Adobe received 7 million Flash download requests from iPhone OS in Dec.

Apple and Adobe aren't the best of friends. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, is rather well-known for his general dislike of the Flash technology, as it is the leading cause of crashes on the Mac OS X platform. When Apple announced its iPhone a few years back, a lot of people noted that there was no Flash support whatsoever, not even in the form of Flash Lite; this very same issue appeared again when Apple unveiled the iPad just under two weeks ago, and is still very much a problem for some. To show the interest that iPhone users have for Adobe's technology, the company told SFGate that they logged over 7 million Flash download requests from the iPhone OS platform during the month of December, an obviously substantial number.

Following the announcement of the iPad, Steve Jobs held a town hall meeting for employees of Apple to go and ask questions. Jobs got onto the topic of Flash and called Adobe lazy for not improving it on the Mac platform (which Adobe has since addressed), proving his general negativity towards the software. The debate of whether or not Apple should include Flash on the iPhone OS is ongoing, though you can safely bet that the Cupertino-based company won't allow it anywhere near its handheld devices – Jobs has made it clear that he believes HTML5 is the future, a web standard that is still being worked on. 

Jobs' feelings for Flash aside, there are numerous reasons as to why Apple would not want to support Adobe's software. Firstly, the technical: Flash, whilst being a huge player in video over the Internet, also boasts a gargantuan selection of games and other forms of media. As you will all know, this heavily relies on having a mouse to point and click – something which touchscreen devices are somewhat lacking. This has been pointed out before, and will continue to be pointed out. In addition to this, if Adobe's implementation of Flash on the iPhone is anything like what is found on Mac OS X, you can surely say that before long, Apple will be criticized for letting it on there in the first place. Apple is very much known for its "walled garden" way of thinking when it comes to the iPhone OS; applications have to venture through the App Store approval process, which has generally improved lately (though, yes, still sees complaints), helping to keep quality under control at the expense of developer's time. Different people have different views on this way of thinking, neither of which is really right or wrong, so we won't tell you otherwise.

Another reason that Apple is keeping Adobe away from its mobile platform is the fact that it is one company that controls so much. Millions of people use Flash content daily, simply because it's there and it does the job, though that does have problems: if any security issues (or otherwise) appear, everybody has to wait for Adobe to fix it. Apple is a company that very much likes to be able to do what it wants when it wants, as you will have learned from the iPad launch – the company has even started using its own A4 CPU, meaning it controls the software and a large portion of the hardware, allowing it to rely only on itself for its products. Say Flash is allowed onto the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and then a problem appears... Apple would be helpless, awaiting Adobe to do the work, which is a position it very much doesn't want to be in.

People will complain and nag for months to come about the lack of Flash, but don't get your hopes up. Apple will almost certainly prevent the software from ever reaching its iPhone OS devices, which causes fairly big problems for Adobe. If Apple wants to help get rid of Flash in order for an open web standard to take its place (in this case, HTML5, which major sites (including YouTube) have recently begun taking advantage of), it will have to take the heat for a while. It's no good if they decide to allow it, but tell Adobe that they have to improve it, as nothing will get done; it's on the device, people are using it, Adobe is happy. You may loathe Apple for preventing Flash, which is the exact reaction most would expect, but don't expect to make a difference.

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22 Comments

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Everyone seems to be doing just fine without Flash on their iPhones and soon to be iPads.

HTML 5 (and CSS 3) are already here and although we don't have a standard on what extension the <video> element should be that's certainly no reason to hold off using it; as we can see from YouTube.

Much as how IE is having to undergo its face-lift to meet demands of standardization so will Flash.

Jimmerz28 said,
Everyone seems to be doing just fine without Flash on their iPhones and soon to be iPads.

No, everyone is not doing fine without Flash on their iPhone OS devices. I hate not being able to access embedded video on news sites, sports sites and TV networks. If Apple has a problem with Flash then they can leave it off by default, but blocking Flash from running on their devices at all is annoying and tyrannical.

Maybe one day HTML5 will replace Flash use, but right now it is a huge impediment, which is barely tolerable on iPhone/iPod Touch.

I'm so impress by actually seeing people taking on apple's side on this subject, incredible that they actually think is adobes fault simply because Steve Jobs[Apple] saids so, so flash would be better open source and Apple is better @ brain washing people to think so. only in America

Lw011 said,
I'm so impress by actually seeing people taking on apple's side on this subject, incredible that they actually think is adobes fault simply because Steve Jobs[Apple] saids so, so flash would be better open source and Apple is better @ brain washing people to think so. only in America

Have you used Flash on any Mac platform? Or even any non-Windows platform?

Adobe HAS the ability to make Flash for Mac OS X. And they do. It's a horrible, HORRIBLE product. Unstable, and VERY poor performance.

I've used Macs before that were capable of watching movies, playing 3D games like Unreal Tournament 2004 and World of Warcraft with 60+ FPS, but a simple Flash animation (not even full screen) was enough to bring the system to its knees.

We have a Mac with a Core 2 Duo at work. Attempting to do something crazy like play Hulu in full screen grinds the system to a halt.

Flash performs poorly under Windows, but under any other platform it is almost unusable. Even if Adobe could do Flash for iPhone, how good does anyone expect it to be? One Flash game or video would chug along in single-digit framerates and eat up your battery faster than any app has ever done.

I do want Flash on iPhone, but I agree with Apple that it's still pretty retarded. That is Adobe's fault.

Skyhawker said,
Is there flash (or equivalent) for jailbroken iphones?

There is a flash video player (FLV), but nothing to allow flash animations or the like on websites.

False, Youtube has not 'taken advantage of' HTML 5, they have launched an experimental version of it on their 'TestTube' site.

There are hardly any sites out there supporting HTML 5 at the moment, and I believe it will be a few years before it becomes mainstream.

That being said, Apple really needs to wake up and allow consumers the choice of whether or not to include flash. Android is already allowing 10.1 soon, and I believe WebOS is also in the running to receive flash support.

Lexcyn said,
False, Youtube has not 'taken advantage of' HTML 5, they have launched an experimental version of it on their 'TestTube' site.

There are hardly any sites out there supporting HTML 5 at the moment, and I believe it will be a few years before it becomes mainstream.

That being said, Apple really needs to wake up and allow consumers the choice of whether or not to include flash. Android is already allowing 10.1 soon, and I believe WebOS is also in the running to receive flash support.

I watch ALL Youtube's videos in html5 using Chrome.

Jobs got onto the topic of Flash and called Adobe lazy for not improving it on the Mac platform (which Adobe has since addressed)

It has? Since when? Yes, there is talk of them improving flash for OSX, but talk is cheap.

jasondefaoite said,
It has? Since when? Yes, there is talk of them improving flash for OSX, but talk is cheap.

100% agree; and I've run the beta of 10.1 and it is just as pathetic, unstable and unreliable as 10.0. If Adobe had half a brain they would completely open source their plugin and allow the likes of Apple and others to improve it without having to be held to ransom to a pack of semi-literate monkeys who pass themselves off as programmers at Adobe.

rawr_boy81 said,
100% agree; and I've run the beta of 10.1 and it is just as pathetic, unstable and unreliable as 10.0. If Adobe had half a brain they would completely open source their plugin and allow the likes of Apple and others to improve it without having to be held to ransom to a pack of semi-literate monkeys who pass themselves off as programmers at Adobe.

The only way i would be happy with the Flash situation is if it was open sourced. I run FreeBSD as a server/development box because i like Unix systems. Adobe will never create a Flash plugin for FreeBSD.

The only thing that stops me running the web as well as on Windows/Linux is the inability to play videos with Flash. I can do without games and adverts, but not being able to play that YouTube video is a pain.

With Apple and Google pushing HTML5 (and the passive MS support) hopefully that will be enough to get the major sites to provide HTML5 video streams as well as Flash.

It wont happen.
If you could play flash games for free on the iphone via safari, people wont buy them via the app store and apple will loose literally millions of lost revenue, I think that is the only reason.

barteh said,
It wont happen.
If you could play flash games for free on the iphone via safari, people wont buy them via the app store and apple will loose literally millions of lost revenue, I think that is the only reason.

AFAIK, Flash is supported on 3 of the current consoles (Wii, PSP and PS3) and it doesn't seem like those Flash games are eating at Nintendo's or Sony's margins, so the "millions of lost revenue" argument seems a bit weak.

I love Apple's products I really do, but this lack of flash, and their ignorance of their customers who keep their company alive, is really being to annoy.

Elven said,
I love Apple's products I really do, but this lack of flash, and their ignorance of their customers who keep their company alive, is really being to annoy.

Agreed.

Elven said,
I love Apple's products I really do, but this lack of flash, and their ignorance of their customers who keep their company alive, is really being to annoy.

How about instead of attacking Apple you attack Adobe for being unable to produce a Flash plugin that doesn't royally suck. Maybe of Adobe actually took their damn job seriously and produced a decent product then Apple wouldn't have a leg to stand on as far as refusing to allowing their software on the iPhone/iPad.

rawr_boy81 said,

How about instead of attacking Apple you attack Adobe for being unable to produce a Flash plugin that doesn't royally suck. Maybe of Adobe actually took their damn job seriously and produced a decent product then Apple wouldn't have a leg to stand on as far as refusing to allowing their software on the iPhone/iPad.

Agreed that Flash isn't perfect and it consumes too much CPU, but that is not the issue here.

Edited by Jebadiah, Feb 10 2010, 12:59pm :

rawr_boy81 said,

How about instead of attacking Apple you attack Adobe for being unable to produce a Flash plugin that doesn't royally suck.

No, IT IS NOT REALLY TRUE.

Flash is a platform, hence you can do a program in flash that use all the resources or use small resources, it is up for the developer to decide which program to developed on it. For example, Flash banner usually uses less than 0.1% cpu (modern pc), while some games can peak over 90%.

rawr_boy81 said,

How about instead of attacking Apple you attack Adobe for being unable to produce a Flash plugin that doesn't royally suck. Maybe of Adobe actually took their damn job seriously and produced a decent product then Apple wouldn't have a leg to stand on as far as refusing to allowing their software on the iPhone/iPad.

Why does Apple need to decide this for me? Why can't I install Adobe Flash on my iPhone and see for myself how terrible it is. Am I just suppose to take Job's word for it? If it is really that bad then I will get rid of it. Elven isn't even attacking Apple (per-say). He is stating whats on a lot of Apple customer's minds.