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Apple hates Flash on the iPhone: it has its reasons, just not what you think!

Paul Nesbitt

Apple is upfront about its refusal to permit Flash content to play on its i family. However, there are other bigger factors behind its stance. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has called it a 'resource hog', which eats up battery life and which has security issues, which could compromise your iPhone/iPad.

And he's got a pretty good case on both counts. Even Adobe has admitted it's been slow to produce a version of Flash that runs decently on mobile devices.

Was it a sign that Adobe has got its act together that Google, which had previously backed the rival open standard for content playback, HTML 5, (along with Apple) recently decided to add support for Flash to its Chrome platform? Possibly, but it's more likely an attempt to undermine Apple, which is even more firmly in the anti-Flash camp, following its decision to ban repurposed Flash apps from running on the iPhone/iPad.

This was a bold step for Apple to take, as there are vast numbers of Flash-based apps, especially games, which will be blocked from iPhone OS 4.0 devices, when the new version of the OS ships this summer.

You've got to figure that lots of games developers, who have Flash expertise were looking forward to using Adobe's newly released Packager for iPhone, which enables them to recompile a Flash game for the iPhone with a click of a button followed by a bit of tweaking.

Already some have condemned Apple's move, which they claim makes their life harder, and which seems like a constriction of freedom – a move back towards the darker, more proprietorial days of tech.

But this is exactly the point. If developers create apps and content in Flash, they remain Flash developers above all, rather than iPhone developers. So Adobe controls the technologies which emerge in the mobile sector.

So, if Apple creates some great new features for the iPhone, which could both appeal to customers, and differentiate its products from the competition, Flash developers will not have the expertise to take advantage of them. They will wait until Adobe updates its Flash recompiler software.

'We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform,' Jobs wrote in a terse email to a Flash developer, who complained to him.

Jobs has a point, especially as Adobe has a woeful record when it comes to supporting Apple's Mac OS X.

Apple's gambit is that it is better to spurn Flash, rather than see the iPhone's reduced to one of many smartphone platforms, whose feature sets are determined by Adobe.

In the meantime, Apple may irritate some of its customers and lose some alienated developers, but with over 185,000 iPhone apps available in its App Store, and booming sales, it's a risk worth taking.



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