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What’s the deal with Flash and the iPhone?

An brief comment from Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen quoted by Bloomberg suggests that Apple and Adobe are actually working on putting Flash on the iPhone:

It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating. The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.

Deliver what? I’d have thought it would be straightforward for Adobe to implement some level of Flash on the iPhone. There are at least two reasons though why Apple might be blocking it:

1. Flash is a client runtime. Apple may feel that allowing applications to run within Flash could threaten its App Store lock-in and market.

2. One of the frustrations of Flash on devices is that it lags behind the version of Flash available on desktops, and is often hard to update. That’s frustrating for users. Apple may want to address that by giving iPhone users an experience that comes close to that on the desktop.

So what is Apple waiting for Adobe to deliver? Better mobile performance and usability? Or some other piece that might address the first of the above concerns?

The outcome of this has a significance that goes beyond the iPhone. Although iPhone and iTouch users form only a small proportion of those browsing the web, it is an influential group and one that will grow. The lack of Flash support makes pure HTML and JavaScript solutions more attractive to web developers.

If anyone from Adobe can give us more insight into what it is working on with Apple, I’m keen to know.

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