Opinion – Adobe says it is working on a version of its Flash player for the iPhone. But realistically I doubt that you will ever get to use it, at least not in why you are used to Flash on a regular PC or Mac. The reason? Simple: The terms-of-service agreement on Apple’s iPhone does not allow Flash to run on the iPhone.
Flash is one of the most important Internet software platforms today, enabling the display of interactive animations, graphics, and multimedia within a browser. Adobe claims that 98% of desktop computers currently support Flash, which prompted many developers to begin utilizing the platform. The recent announcement by Adobe stating that is working on Flash for Windows Mobile has caused much speculation the iPhone version might hit the AppStore soon. But realistically, the wait for the product could potentially be indefinitely.
The problem is that Flash is a software platform.
Apple likes to maintain complete control over the applications running on its hardware. By allowing Flash onto the iPhone just like that, it is clear that Apple would be opening the doors to someone else’s development platform. Flash would give developers a new opportunity to place their software on the iPhone. This could divert business from the AppStore, and also allow for the distribution of music, movies and videos that would be capable of competing with those on iTunes.
A look into the iPhone’s terms of service agreement provides further clues.
“An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise,” reads clause 3.3.2 of the iPhone SDK agreement, which was recently published on WikiLeaks. “No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s).”
This could be a major let down for iPhone owners. One of the greatest complaints about the handheld since its release has been that it lacks in Flash support, which makes this otherwise fantastic web browsing devices look silly on Flash sites: You can’t play free flash games, you can’t stream videos from sites such as Hulu and you can’t navigate websites designed with Flash.
On Monday, Adobe demonstrated a version of Flash for Windows Mobile handsets, and stated that it is working on the product for the iPhone, but all would be left up to Apple.
In essence, this all boils down to Apple and its idea how much control it wants. Flash would also cause a ton of other issues also. Potentially, Flash applications could impact the lifespan of the battery, take the graphics-processing unit to its limit, use too much memory, and even cause security risks. The iPhone is already ridden with customer complaints, Flash might just add more to the list, none of which Apple needs right now.