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Adobe hoping to marginalise Flash-free iPhone

We got a few more clues about Adobe’s iPhone problem at a press conference today with Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch. There is no doubt about the importance Adobe attaches to the device. “Flash needs to get there in order to stay relevant on the web”, says Lynch, though there was some ambiguity about whether he meant the iPhone specifically, or the mobile web in general.

Yesterday’s announcement of Applications for iPhone, a feature of the forthcoming Creative Suite 5, solves a problem for developers wanting to port Flash applications to iPhone apps for Apple’s App Store, but does nothing for Flash content in web pages. Here’s the page you get if you follow a “Get Flash” link using an iPhone:

Note Adobe’s slightly more aggressive wording in the latest version of this page: “Until Apple eliminates these restrictions, Adobe cannot provide Flash Player for the iPhone.”

So what if Apple continues to refuse Flash – something which some users would actually welcome? Lynch made reference to the number of hot new Smartphones now appearing, including Palm Pre, Android phones, Windows Mobile 6.5 phones, and Nokia’s latest devices. He then referenced the early history of the PC, when Apple was first to market with a mouse-driven GUI but lost out to Windows in the mass market, and suggested that history might repeat itself, as these new devices incorporate many of the features for which the iPhone is popular.

The implication is that if Apple continues to be Flash-free it might lose market share to others; and that this might happen anyway thanks to the iPhone’s premium price and closed platform.

This may be wishful thinking. Closed or not, Apple has built up impressive third-party support for the iPhone and it will be hard to tempt existing users away.

Still, in the absence of any other possible strategy, it’s a reasonable one to try. We will not know the impact of having the full Flash player on Smartphones for a while yet, but if it successful, more of Apple’s customers will ask for Flash to be supported.

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  4. Adobe’s secret plans for the iPhone – but still no Flash (updated)
  5. What’s the deal with Flash and the iPhone?

5 comments to Adobe hoping to marginalise Flash-free iPhone

  • Does the iPhone have enough RAM for Flash?

    I know my iPod Touch 2nd Gen tends to spend most of its time with a mere 5MB free RAM. Sure some of that might be jailbreak related hacks, but it certainly begs the question.

    The new 3rd Gen with 256MB RAM should be able to cope however but having Flash on that but not the older devices could do even more damage in alienating their customers. I myself got pissed when Sony doubled the RAM of the PSP and added exclusive features only to the new, cheaper, model.

  • I think theres a bigger problem for experienced developers who are used to developing apps in a an event-driven paradigm trying to switch to write apps using CS5 which has scenes/timelines/transitions.

    I looked at the demo vids of creating a basic app using flash and it looks horrendous, well to a veteran (20yr+) coder like myself.

    I’m currently going through the pain of ObjectiveC and seeing these videos only convinced me its worth perservering with the route I have taken.

    Gary

  • tim

    @Gary

    The tool for developers is meant to be Flash Builder (formerly Flex Builder) which is code-centric rather than Flash Pro, which has the timelines etc. Having said that, the iPhone compilation is initially a feature of Flash Pro, but will also come to Flash Builder before long – so I’m told, anyway.

    Tim

  • @Tim

    Thats not how I read it Tim but to be honest you are closer to the news than I am. All the pieces I read stated it would be Flash CS5 and not Flex Builder, if it was the latter it could be interesting.

    Gary

  • tim

    @Gary

    You are slightly misunderstanding me I think! You’re right, Flash CS5 will be the tool initially; but it will come to the more developer-centric Flash Builder in due course.

    Tim