The proclamation from Steve Jobs that the iPhone will not support the Flash Player, either in it's full desktop player form or Flash Lite, has led many to examine the motivations behind Apple's stance.

Personally, I think this is all just saber-rattling. The most compelling argument I've seen thus far - on why Apple doesn't want Flash on the iPhone - has nothing to do with the security of the Flash player or it's robustness on a mobile platform. Apple wants to control and protect the development channels on the iPhone. They want a say in who builds applications and what those applications are. Furthermore, they have no interest in proliferating the Flash Player's reach within the mobile and devices space. That wouldn't help the advancement of Silverlight at all now would it?

For more on this topic see the links below (posted in no particular order).

CNN's coverage (w/ comment from Ryan Stewart):

Marketwatch's coverage:

Robert Scoble on Apple/Job's declaration of no Flash on iPhone:

John Gruber on this topic (more detail on Apple protecting the iPhone dev environment):

Ryan Stewart says the Flash Player is coming to iPhone (background info only):

Larry Dignan on Apple vs. Adobe iPhone Spat (background info only):

Aaron West's Gravatar
About this post:

This entry was posted by Aaron West on March 5, 2008 at 1:30 PM. It was filed in the following categories: Adobe General, iPhone, Mobile & Devices, Flash. It has been viewed 18267 times and has 12 comments.

12 Responses to Apple Refuses Flash Player on iPhone: The Real Reason?

  1. The quote I saw specifically mentioned Flash Lite only as not being an option.

  2. Hi, whatever the reason(s) behind Apple not using Flash I don't think it's because they want Silverlight to be successful! That's something I wouldn't want on the iPhone / iPod Touch!

  3. If you take care of browsing to any web sites that uses Flash, using any device with FlashLite onboard, you would know the answer: the vast majority of web sites will redirect you to a version of the site that has been specifically designed for mobiles and do not contain any kind of Flash (Lite or full), so mobile web is already WITHOUT Flash. Safari on iPhone do not disguise itself as a mobile browser, but rather as a full one, receiving access to web site designed for desktop and, when used, with full Flash content. iPhone/iPhone Touch DO NOT have the power necessary to run the full version of Flash, so the experience would very pitiful. Furthermore, Flash 9 and FlashLite do not support what people are buying iPhone/iPod Touch for: gestures. Every Flash content rely on the presence of a mouse to input events; touch screen devices do not send mouse over events, making 99% of interactive Flash content out there unusable. Also, Flash 9 sites rely on fast connection and throw hundreds of KB of data even for the most basic content: anything made with Flex has a minimum payload of 273KB and thats before you start to put any of your code on it. While it is fine when Im at home with flat rate, IT IS NOT good when Im on portable device with non flat rate or worse Im roaming outside my home networks. Thats something Im not willing pay on my bill, just to please some flashers. And thats probably what Steve is talking about.

  4. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that there's nothing you could do in Flash on the iPhone that you won't be able to using the SDK. Especially since Flash is supposed to be a "platform independent" layer that essentially ignores the hardware it's running on.

    As such, there's no "secret conspiracy" to "control and protect the development channels on the iPhone".

  5. there was an interesting (and long) discussion about this in aral balkans blog last year

  6. I want flash player as many sites I visit have them. Why can't the people that don't like such sites not go there at all and stop with all the bs about bandwidth etc?

    Many players out there support flAsh, why can't iPhone? I know it's just a matter of time, but I want it now :-)

  7. rich

    I dont understand why apple didn't even think of the flash player cos safari works exactly as desktop browser unlike mobile browser . They should think of bringing flash soon cos it. Making the phone useless to me

  8. Manny Rivers

    I have to say that this is a BIG deal to me. The iPhone is an incredible tool in a lot of ways, easilly outclassing my previous windows mobile device on a lot of fronts. BUT no flash player is a real problem. My I Internet experience on the iPhone is simply not the "full" experience that I was promissed. If the lack of functionality is purposeful, there's some serious dough in a class action for an adventurous lawyer. No imbedded videos or music works on my iPhone no quicktime, no WMP, nothing. Are there third party pluggins from trusted sites that people trust?

  9. @Manny - Your mention of a class action lawsuit is rather timely. Read this CNet article about an Apple ad being banned in the UK for touting the iPhone brings access to all of the Internet.

  10. Gloria

    Everytime I go to see a video or hulu it says I need the flash player and Safari won't allow it. What can I do?

  11. Sam B.

    I think we need to file a class action to get flash on Iphone we need to be able to use any software we want on an Iphone. thats why microsoft had to pay big money is because they would not let other software work on their system same as apple is now lets sue apple to open the iphone up...

  12. @Sam B - While I would like to have Flash Player on the iPhone I hardly think not having it is worth a lawsuit. Maybe spending your time writing senior VPs at Apple would be better. I'm no lawyer but you certainly would have a case. Product companies can choose what they want to include and not include and you can't sue someone or some entity because they left off your favorite feature.