Prospects for Flash on iPhone dim with Jobs comment

Neither the desktop nor mobile versions of Adobe Flash are apparently good enough for the iPhone in Steve Jobs' eyes, as stated in his first public comments on the matter.

Some had hoped that Thursday's expected announcement of the iPhone SDK would bring Adobe Flash support as well. However, with Jobs' comments to shareholders Tuesday, the chances of that now look unlikely, if not impossible.

Adobe produces Flash Lite, a scaled-down version of its multimedia platform for the mobile phone, but Jobs seemed to indicate that was just not good enough for the iPhone.


On the other hand, the full version apparently works too slowly to be used on the device. "There's this missing product in the middle," Jobs told investors. So whether Flash will ever be available to iPhone users is still up in the air.

Don't ask Adobe on Flash's status either. The company itself has said only Jobs knows when and if they will ever support flash. But at the same time, the company itself never planned for the standard version Flash to work on anything other than the desktop.

There are many considerations that need to be addressed before Flash could work correctly on the iPhone. First, Adobe needs to take into account processing, memory, and battery use constraints, something it generally does not need to worry about in desktop computing.

Secondly, Adobe needs to recompile the code and optimize it for the iPhone's ARM processor, two things that Apple couldn't necessarily do on its own. With all this groundwork needed only to make Flash work, the prospects for the technology on the device are not looking good at all.

Add to this Apple's increasing distance from Adobe in its development materials for the iPhone -- its web applications guidelines urge its developers to avoid Flash -- and even its movement outside of the iPhone (where its website now includes practically no Flash at all), and this amounts to a very strained relationship.

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