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Three Reasons There Is No Flash in iOS

by Travis Harvey | February 1, 2010February 1, 2010 2:17 am PDT

Since the debut of the first device to run the iPhone OS (iOS), there’s been a substantially loud community calling for the inclusion of Adobe Flash.  Nearly three years later, there’s been no progress made and none in sight.  With last week’s announcement of the iPad and it’s glaring Flash omission came a backlash that’ll affect sales through multiple hardware revisions.  So what’s keeping Apple from collaborating with Adobe to bring Flash support to the most capable iOS device yet?

ipadnoflashAccording to Wired, at a Town Hall meeting where Steve Jobs fielded questions from its employees, Jobs had some not-so-nice things to say when questioned about the exclusion of Flash on the iPad.  Although direct quotes have gone unpublished, Jobs referred to the substantial amount of Mac crashes that are due to Adobe’s Flash plug-in.  Further, Jobs referred to Adobe as lazy despite having tons of potential to do interesting things.  He wrapped up Apple’s stance that the world is moving towards open web standards like the increasingly adopted HTML5.

In a perfect Jobsian world, web standards of HTML5 would already be mandatory.  With HTML5 comes the ability to do much of what is being burdened onto Flash implementation.  The ability to embed media playback is Flash’s main draw, cited by popular video streaming sites like Hulu. (How killer would Hulu be on the iPad?)  Mass adoption of HTML5 standards would eliminate the need of add-ons like Microsoft’s Silverlight and Adobe Flash, relying on the browser to deliver a full web experience.

Before the introduction of the App Store, Apple pushed developers to created web applications that would run in mobile Safari.  They were backing the idea that the web browser could transform into the application and that their devices needn’t be opened up to outside developers.  Since the explosion of the App Store, Apple’s done a 180, urging developers to created applications that essentially pull information from the web and display it through a unique app.  Building in support for Flash would undermine the goal they have with their App Store.  No longer would applications have to follow optimization and regulation approval but instead could be built within the browser, an inefficient resource hog that erodes the user experience that the iPhone strives to create.  Apple’s solution to those who want to bring Flash content to iOS devices: build an app.

Whether you hate it or love it, Flash isn’t making its way into Apple’s closed ecosystem.  Instead, they’re pushing for HTML5 and it’s open web standards where we aren’t relying on one developer to maintain a web platform.  Is the lack of Flash a deal breaker for any of you?  Should Apple cave and collaborate with Adobe to bring Flash to its mobile devices or should they stand firm in their vision?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


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