This is a guest post by Polemicist, a loyal blog reader and commenter. If you’d like to guest post on the iPhone Download Blog, please see the guidelines.

What ever happened to this guy?

Developer Jonah Grant submitted an “Adobe Flash mobile” plug-in for the iPhone and iPod Touch’s Safari browser on Friday, April 24 2009.

flash iphoneMaybe Jonah’s plug-in was only an urban legend but I do recall Adobe saying they were working on a new version of Flash for the iPod and iPhone and now over a year later we get to see the wonders of the iPad still with no Flash support. To top that off the mobile Safari browser doesn’t appear to be able to support HTML 5 so we are again left in limbo with a media rich field of HTML, JPG and maybe a few animated GIF’s.

So why would Apple go out of its way to stop a product that has been around since the early 90’s in one form or another? Flash has become so much a part of the internet that it has been included in Windows CD’s since Windows 98.

Yes OK there have been security risks with Flash and Apple can say that those risks are the reason they do not allow Flash content. They can even block it due to the fact that Flash can execute arbitrary code. But if that is the case then they had better not let QuickTime run on the iPad or iPhone as it allows arbitrary code execution as well. Anyway both Apple and Adobe patch their security holes quite quickly so again not a good enough reason for saying no to Flash.

Apple can say that Flash content doesn’t run quickly enough on iPhones. That might actually be correct and in some cases a Flash enabled iPhone user might have to turn off Flash support so they can bypass for example an intro screen that is freezing their browser (wouldn’t that be inconvenient). The iPad on the other hand could easily cope with massive Flash content so that crosses that off the list of reasons.

Why do they take fast processors then underclock them?

Original & 3G: Samsung 32-bit RISC ARM 1176JZ(F)-S v1.0
620 MHz underclocked to 412 MHz
PowerVR MBX Lite 3D GPU[8]

3GS: Samsung S5PC100 ARM Cortex-A8
833 MHz underclocked to 600 MHz

I wonder if they are going to do the same with the iPad?

All things considered the only logical reason I can see for Apple to ban Flash content is that they might lose money. Because of this attitude from Apple I now want to see the iPad hacked so badly that a version of Snow Leopard can be installed on it.

But I digress. So let’s take a look at the issues here.

On the Official side of the fence we have:

  1. Adobe determined to put Flash onto mobile devices.
  2. Apple determined to keep Flash off all of its mobile devices.
  3. Developers more than capable of porting Flash to Apple mobile devices.
  4. Apple not letting Developers put Flash onto the App Store.

On the Jailbreaker side of the fence we have:

  1. Dedicated hackers capable of making iPad do whatever they want.
  2. Homebrew developers with vast experience in iPhone Software.
  3. Adobe apparently porting Flash to other mobile devices

Looks to me like the JB community will win. Once a version of Flash is made that will run on Windows Mobile and Android devices the Homebrew guys I’m sure will take great pleasure in putting it onto iPad and maybe even the iPhone. Adobe would have to make the mobile version of Flash capable of being used on Apple products so they can show it off to Apple. Maybe (if we are lucky) that version might “leak” from Adobe.

I’m sure the JB community will happily pay a dollar or two for the Homebrew developer’s effort to port the mobile Flash to the iGadgets. I for one would donate to that cause. Picture just how annoyed Apple will get if this happens and how smug the looks would be on the Adobe team (at least while Apple wasn’t looking).

Imagine now an iPhone/iPad that can browse Flash based websites and then take that website and run it full screen. Going online and finding a few SWF games, downloading and playing them using an updated version of iFile. Watching a Flash based movie or TV channel right from the palm of your hand.

What a wonderful world that would be. I look forward to this Utopia. If not (like many Mac Fanboys) I will look forward to Windows Mobile 7.

What do you think?

  • PS

    Too bad some companies takes some pride in what they make. Even worse that their taste just don’t cater to you, isn’t it?

    I don’t believe for a second Apple worries about losing money over Flash. I also think Flash is crap, and should be eliminated from the regular web. Actually I can’t think of one single Flash website I would miss.

    But then, I’m no fancy schmancy iGen guy neither… Or maybe all you Flash-fanbois just go find another nice slate computing tablet device that runs Flash and play with that instead. Simple choice really – they’re aplenty out there.

  • Holeinthehead2

    I can’t wait for a hack either, really irritates me that I have to email myself links with flash so I can see them on my desktop. However, what this is all about is Apple wants to see HTML5 move forward (despite current non-support)[easy to fix] and away from single provider solution. This is about the future.

  • I’m too lazy to go look it up right now, but I’ve seen a clip where steve jobs dismisses flash as too buggy to be released on the iPhone. I do think Flash is responsible for 90% (or more) of the times when my browser crashes. Crashing is pretty unacceptable to the UX for iPhone. I can get behind the idea of having a jailbroken version of flash… but until it’s more stable, I think that’s where it belongs… behind a long list of technical challenges before it gets into the hands of the end-user. It’s just not stable enough for anything else.

    On the other hand, I don’t doubt there are political reasons for flash’s omission as well. It seems pretty likely to me that a lack of Flash on iPhone/touch devices is more to do with the relationship between Apple and Adobe than anything else.

  • Eddie

    I think flash is approaching it’s end, which is being sped up by apple. HTML5 should be the way to go since it is open and not proprietary like Adobe Flash.

    It is now in the hands of the web developers. Obviously web developers want their content to be accessed by as many devices as possible. We already see a lot of websites being optimized or the iPhone and I wouldn’t be surprised if they move away from flash.

  • Wize

    The iPhone OS is a completely different operating system than Android. Just because there’s Flash for Android doesn’t make it any easier to make Flash for iPhone. Furthermore, porting Flash is much more of an undertaking than just cracking a phone or making a small app; it’s practically an OS in and of itself. I have no doubt hackers could rig something together, perhaps starting with Mac OS Flash, but it would require a *lot* of effort, and bring up thousands of issues that crop up in being compatible with all the Flash programs out there. I don’t think they will bother, it’s just not worth the effort.

    I have an iPhone, and I figure I’ll just never have Flash on it. Frankly, the biggest practical use seems to be for video, and hopefully a Safari Mobile update to HTML5 will resolve that.

  • Wize

    Also, in answer to “why do they underclock”, I’m guessing it’s to reduce heat and increase reliability.

  • ab

    Go away Flash. It’s a terrible environment thats now very long in the tooth. The web will be better without it – lets make way for far better real standards.

  • iStupid

    I like your style of thought…!

  • Thank you. 🙂

    Sorry about the late comment. In Australia Sunday was the 1 year anniversary of Black Saturday and that has made it a tough week.

    I for one hope that Flash does get onto mobile devices. I’m not interested in Adobe’s market share I’m interested in choice.