I read an interesting article this morning that suggested Apple would change its mind and put Adobe’s Flash technology on its iOS devices within a year. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
In an open letter to users, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave several reasons why he didn’t want Flash on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. They are: Flash isn’t open; the full web; reliability, security and performance; battery life; and touch.
Adobe began shipping Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile last June, but even Laptop magazine admitted that “Steve Jobs was right,” and that “Adobe’s offering seems like it’s too little, too late.” Granted, that report was from six months ago, but it still doesn’t bode well for the technology.
There is no doubt that Adobe is making advances with Flash on mobile devices, but I don’t believe future changes will be enough to get Apple to adopt the technology.
Jobs has been very clear that Apple supports HTML5, an open technology that is controlled by a standards committee, not one company. By building support for that technology into Webkit, Apple is ensuring that mobile Web browsers will be able to access what we’ve come to know as the “full web.”
Webkit is used by Google, Palm, Nokia and RIM, so it has a pretty solid base.
One of the arguments often bantered about when the discussion of the “full Web” comes up is video. There is no doubt that Flash made huge strides over the years in having sites like YouTube encode their videos in Flash. But that’s for the desktop.
As Jobs points out, almost all of this video is also available in H.264 format (a format Flash also supports), so it’s viewable on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
“Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video,” wrote Jobs.
You may ask why other companies adopted Flash for their mobile devices when Apple won’t. That’s easy, they are looking for something they have that Apple doesn’t. Considering how hard it is for tablet makers to compete with Apple, any perceived advantage will work.
I’m not an Adobe hater—I know quite a few people that work at Adobe and I think they’ve done some amazing things over the years. Flash for mobile devices isn’t one of them.
Chris Dawson said he gives “Apple a year until they cave [and adopt Flash]. Android tablets will just be too cool and too useful for both entertainment and enterprise applications if they don’t.”
I have been using my iPhone for years and my iPad for one year. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went to a Web site that wouldn’t load because I didn’t have Flash installed. I can load videos from YouTube and a host of other sites too, no problem.
Apple has sold more than 160 million iOS devices and there are no screaming, angry hordes of users breaking down the doors at 1 Infinite Loop demanding Flash on their devices.
In order for Apple to change its mind and adopt Flash, the technology has to be proven to be indispensable and that it will benefit its users. Apple has proven just the opposite is true.