BobbyeM71hxwAdobe Fires Back at Apple’s Snub of Flash on the iPad

What’s Apple’s problem with flash? After three years of the introduction of the iPhone, Apple’s refusal to include Flash on its soon-to-be-released iPad has sparked another kerfuffle between Apple and Flash maker Adobe Systems.

Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch in a lengthy blog post railed against Apple’s Flash avoidance and detailed why Flash has become successful on the non-iPhone part of the web. From its humble start allowing low-bandwidth vector animations on the web, Flash now includes animation, streaming audio, rich interactivity, arbitrary fonts, two-way audio/video communication, local storage, and “enabling the video revolution on the web, Lynch wrote.

Lynch wrote in blog that the explosion of smartphones and the imminent wave of tablet devices — including the iPad — means an “important crux for the future of Flash”. A plethora of devices in the mobile with different web-browsing capabilities threatens to break up what Flash largely built — “seamless, consistent and rich experiences,” he added.

Flash for Smartphones

According to Lynch, “Adobe is attempting to manage the transition to the mobile web with a version of the Flash player for smartphones — which will be deployed by all but one of the top manufacturers”. Any Guesses…

Flash works just fine on Apple’s devices, Lynch wrote. Adobe is developing stand-alone apps built on Flash that are currently available on the App Store. “This same solution will work on the iPad as well. We are ready to enable Flash in the browser on these devices if and when Apple chooses to allow that for its users, but to date we have not had the required cooperation from Apple to make this happen,” Lynch charged.

HTML5 Won’t Replace Flash

Apple is a supporter of the open-standard HTML5, which it says will eventually replace Flash. According to Lynch, he doesn’t think so. If HTML could reliably do everything Flash does, that would certainly save us a lot of effort, but that does not appear to be coming to pass.

“The coming HTML video implementations cannot agree on a common format across browsers, so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the web with incompatibility issues,” Lynch wrote.

At the iPad’s introduction, Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Flash “buggy,” a charge Lynch denied in his post. “Regarding crashing, I can tell you that we don’t ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically, Flash could not have achieved its wide use today,” Lynch wrote. “Addressing crash issues is a top priority in the engineering team, and currently there are open reports we are researching in Flash Player 10.”

Battle of the Titans

Greg Sterling, principal analyst with Sterling Market Research, said in a phone interview that this really all comes down to market power. “There’s a lot at stake for Adobe here. If Apple continues to gain and the iPad is a hit, and there are millions of devices out there that Flash is not compatible with, it’s a danger for them.”

As the phone was an “app” device, then the lack of Flash on the iPhone wasn’t a huge deal, it’s a different world with the larger iPad screen. According to Sterling, it was very jarring to see Jobs scrolling around the {New York] Times site and all these blue boxes where there should have been videos.

Sterling said, it seems really foolish at one level for Apple to shun Flash — it’s a media device and it needs to be able to play media. “On the other hand, perhaps it’s the height of arrogance where Apple thinks they can move the whole world to their technological choices.”

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