Flash on iPhone / iPad

On May 4, 2010

It seems that after a lot of hearsay, and he said / she said, we finally got a direct statement from Steve Jobs / Apple about what his / their reason is for not supporting flash on their devices.

Fresh from Apple’s web site, Steve Jobs points out the following 6 reasons why Apple does not currently support Flash on their devices.  We can’t say that we agree with all of these, but a few actually make some sense to us, see what you think, since from the sounds of things, Apple will probably never support Flash on its devices.

1. Flash is 100% Proprietary to Adobe.  They control pricing, updates, etc. and this non open standard is something Apple doesn’t approve of.

2. The "Full Web".  Even though Flash video is used 75% of the time on the web, Apple points out that there are many other alternate video formats that they would prefer to support on their products which are being used on most popular video sites.

3.  Reliability, Security, and Performance.  According to Apple, Symantec recently said Flash has one of the worst security records in 2009.  Apple also claims that Flash is the number 1 reason that Macs crash.

4.  Battery Life.  Chips used in modern mobile devices contain decoders called H.264.  Its a standard used in Blu-ray (something Apple still doesn’t support, whats the issue there Apple?).  Even though Adobe recently added H.264 to Flash, older generation decoder used on web sites are not implemented in mobile chips and therefore must run on software which taxes the chips more and "wastes" battery life.

5.  Flash does not support Touch Based devices.  Its made for PC’s which include keyboards and mice, and works on rollovers (when the pointer rolls over the item you want to create an action for), therefore the experience that Apple wants users to have is lost if Flash was used.

6.  Apple doesn’t like 3rd party development platforms, and I quote, "If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.  We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

So there you have it.  Apple’s 6 reasons for not allowing Flash on their devices.  It seems that Apple probably will never allow Adobe’s Flash at this point.  So the real question then becomes, will developers of Flash products ultimately recode their products in more open formats like HTML5 in order to work with Apple?  Or will Apple users have to learn how to live without?

You can read the full Steve Jobs post here.