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Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia » Mobile Flash

Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia

Why Flash is Not on The iPad

Posted in News, Adobe, Flash Player, Mobile Flash, FP10, Flash Platform Community, Apple, iWhatever by Joeflash on the January 30th, 2010

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There is a polarizing debate going on between “iPad - Flash = Epic Fail”, and “Flash is dumb/crashes/obsolete/ads/porn/who cares,” bordering on the religious. Problem is, many of the cons against Flash are the same tired HTML fanboy arguments one hears, as if by trolling force alone millions of sites will go dark overnight. There’s only one reason why Flash is not on the iPad, or the iPhone for that matter.

It’s not 3G bandwidth. If Rogers or AT&T has oversold its network capacity and cannot deliver 1/10th of its advertised 7.2Mbps with a clear signal in a major urban environment, they deserve to be taken to court for false advertising. Even then, I am on a wireless connection at home, and during peak hours the connection can slow to dial-up speeds. When that happens, I click on FlashBlock, and only click to enable the Flash content I know I want to watch. So tell me one good reason why Apple could not disable all VM plugin content by default, and enable them by a click on the little blue lego. No, I can’t think of a reason either.

It’s not performance. As Lee Brimlow, Flash evangelist for Adobe comments, Adobe is willing to work with Apple on improving the performance of the Flash Player for this mobile device, as they have with every other major manufacturer. The fact of the matter is, Apple will not let Adobe play in their sandbox. And yes, I will concede, Flash could be better engineered to run on a Mac, as John Gruber claims — but that is besides the point, because we’re talking about a completely different product and OS here. As Peter Elst mentions, “With the iPad we’re talking about a different device, a processor that clearly is capable of high performance rendering”.

It might be about the fact that Flash will allow content that cannot be sold on the App Store, but that does not hold water either. App store revenues of millions a year do not threaten a billion dollar revenue base.

There is only one reason I can think of that makes any sense why Apple would do this.

No, Steve Jobs Is not Lying About Flash Not Working on The iPhone (nor is he doing an f-you to Adobe)

Posted in Business, Flex, Adobe, Flash Player, Mobile Flash by Joeflash on the March 8th, 2008

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Everyone is all a huff as why the iPhone does not have Flash, in posts and comments all over the bloggosphere lately about Steve Job’s comments about Flash, spawning two main interpretations:

a) Steve Jobs is Lying about Flash on the iPhone, and is keeping the info to himself as a negotiating tool.

b) Steve hates Adobe, and is doing an f-you to Adobe.

…and a kinder, more rational explanation,

c) that Flash is not ready for the iPhone.

Okay, let’s get a grip, and a reality check here people. I am not normally one to fall prey to idle speculation, but some of the conspiracy theories floating about lately border on the ridiculous.

Personally, I don’t see any of these explanations as holding water, including the third.

First, Steve Jobs does not need to lie to anyone. He simply keeps his mouth shut on stuff he doesn’t want anyone to know about (yet).

Second, this is business, it’s not personal. That Apple would pull this as a stunt to piss off Adobe or use it solely as a leveraging tool does a disrespect to both parties. (more on this below)

And let’s not turn speculation on whether the iPhone will run flash into yet another *\*yawn\** flash-bashing session. I am sooo bored of pathetically uninformed Flash bashing that does not stand up to a grain of truth. Fullscreen, hardware-accelerated H264 Video in Flex and AIR — ‘nuf said people.

As for Flash running slow on Macs versus PCs, it’s a problem that occurs mostly in Flash Player 8 and below (or AS2/VM1 apps in FP9+), as a difference in the frame rendering engine between the two OSes. Any Flash developer worth their salt will know that if you set the frame rate of the FLA to 21, 31, or 41, that “bug” will disappear, and mac SWFs will run just as fast as their PC counterparts. Don’t blame the technology, blame the developer for being too clueless to know how to code a decent Flash app. And apps designed for the VM2 (AS3) runtime in the Flash player run at the same speed on the PC as it does the Mac without the hack. So let’s put that one to rest already.

As for Jobs not willing to put Flash on the iPhone, as a Flash/Flex developer I can see that as a perfectly reasonable assertion. I think this guy has the right idea: it’s not that Flash is not ready for the iPhone, or that the iPhone is not ready for Flash (the full version), it’s both, depending on which Flash player we’re talking about. One reason I won’t currently touch Flash mobile development with a ten foot pole is that the Flash Lite player is a pathetically chopped down version of the Flash player which requires a mix of AS1 and AS2 coding techniques with a “hackiness” that almost makes Lingo programming look robust. And the full Flash Player is just too powerful for the iPhone processor, so one could also say that the iPhone “is not ready” for Flash. Truth is, Adobe needs to create a new version of the Flash player for this “mid-range” computational device.


Given the Flex 4 roadmap lecture at a recent Flex conference I attended regarding the up and coming modular nature of the next version of the Flex framework, my money is on the probability that Adobe is already in the process of making a Flash 10 Player for the iPhone.

I am sure there are a fair bit of politics involved, but none of the current discussions I’ve seen take into account the pink elephant in the room: Quicktime. The FLV standard is currently kicking Quicktime’s butt all over the net as the current de-facto standard for online video, so it’s unlikely Apple wants to invite that wolf into their home without some serious adjustments. Adobe and Apple may even be in talks to establish Quicktime player capability in the next version of the Flash Player, who knows (again pure speculation). If we take into account the iTunes licensing model, it’s quite possible Apple will also want some form of DRM for video and audio in Flash as well.

As for the other assertion that Microsoft’s Silverlight will be “first to market” on the iPhone, well I personally don’t think Apple cares if Silverlight or Flash, both or either get on the iPhone. Steve is holding all the keys to all the doors of the iPhone. If it enhances the Apple brand without losing too much control, he’ll do it. But I doubt Apple is weak enough to be bought, bullied or cajoled into doing anything it doesn’t want to do, from Microsoft, Adobe or the user base crying out for either. Apple has long since become a monopoly in its own right, and despite its PR, is far from being the “company for the people” that it once was. You worship at the iChurch of Apple or you go home, and you don’t tell the priesthood how to operate.

Having said that, everyone assumes there’s this incredibly aggressive war going on between Apple and Adobe. What if there is no such thing going on, and Apple and Adobe are merely taking their time to sort out the mutual licensing rights, as it is definitely in both parties’ interests to come to a satisfying solution? Quicktime, PDF, iTunes, DRM, FLV, SWF, Flash Player, iPhone OS — all these are proprietary technologies, on both sides, and getting them to legally play well together will take time for the suits and the engineers to work out.

Personally, I don’t give a toss if the iPhone has Flash or not right now. I’m having too much fun developing Flex and AIR apps. Flash on the iPhone will come. And when it does, it’ll be cool. But I’d rather have faith that these two goliaths will work out a decent solution rather than give in to all the fear and loathing going on. So please, let’s give the limp “Apple is doing an f-you to Adobe” rumours a rest, eh?

Update March 20: Here’s the real state of Flash on the iPhone, right from the horse’s mouth.