Adobe Flash in the world of mobile phones

by Administrator | Apr 23, 2010

When talking about the various technologies a user runs into when surfing the web, no conversation would be complete without a mention of Adobe Flash. It is practically ubiquitous and it is undoubtedly the case that the majority of internet users around the world will have a Flash plug-in installed on their PC. Given how many users subscribe to YouTube, and the fact that YouTube videos are shown in Flash, it does not seem unfair to say that Adobe Flash is one of the must-have plug-is for any PC.

However, it may soon be the must-have plug-in for mobile phones as well because Adobe have stated that Flash 10.1 will be appearing on mobile phones and tablets running WebOS (as found in the Palm Pre), Android (as found in the Nexus One) and the Blackberry OS (as found in Blackberry phones, including touchscreen handsets such as the Blackberry Storm 2).

The timeframe for these operating systems to have Flash available is the second half of this year.

This announcement comes after Microsoft have stated they are working with Adobe to include Flash in their new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, some time after that new OS is launched to the public. While Flash will not be included in Windows Phone 7 at launch, Microsoft have stated it will be coming in the future. However, there is one notable company who will not be using Flash any time soon, and that is Apple.

This has been confirmed directly by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has gone on record as saying that Flash is too slow and buggy to be used on their devices, such as the iPhone (both current models and the upcoming 'iPhone 4') or the iPad. In Jobs' own words, according to various reports, 'Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it's because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.'

He also went on to describe Adobe as being 'lazy', which perhaps is not surprising from the man who described Microsoft as making 'really third rate products'.

The view of Apple is that they do not need to support Flash as the world is moving across to the new HTML5 standard for web development. While this may be true, that transition is going to be a very slow process, as it involves developers learning an entirely new way to code website content. As a counterpoint to that, however, it is worth noting that some websites have already begun switching over to HTML5, in order to be viewable on the iPad.

More cynical commentators have said that Apple's refusal to use Flash is more a sign of them wanting to control what their users can or cannot use the iPhone for, as well as what content users can or cannot view.

However, with Flash being such a ubiquitous piece of software, the words of Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen do ring true when he says that this particular business decision by Apple will hurt consumers and, that ultimately, consumers will vote with their wallets. It is a sentiment which is hard to argue with, and by not supporting Flash it may well be that Apple are going to cause problems for themselves in future. However, only time will tell and for Adobe the inclusion of Flash in every other phone operating system is a going to give them a much bigger advantage in future negotiations with Apple, as well as providing the obvious benefit to consumers of being able to view much more on the web than they would have otherwise been able to.

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