Monday, February 2, 2009

Flash on iPhone Hopes Dashed

According to Adobe, their most famous product Flash will not be coming to the Apple iPhone any time soon. Flash is the program responsible for playing many videos on Internet websites, such as YouTube and Hulu. One of Apple’s main boasts about the iPhone is that it provides a real browser as opposed to a pseudo version which is standard on many mobile devices. The lack of Flash is a huge blow to this claim, because it severely limits the video-watching capabilities on the phone. Flash Lite, the lesser version is simply “not advanced enough” for the iPhone according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. This appears to be a minor problem for Apple and the iPhone but upon closer investigation, it actually could severely affect sales. Many other mobile phones and other portable devices are being cranked out by rival companies will have Windows Mobile and Google’s Android which both are going to be Flash-ready sometime very soon. The simple lack of Flash will not negatively affect sales, but if several rival phones have better features and capabilities, then that may just tip the scales in favor of these new competitors. This problem seems like something that could be easily fixed with two technology giants working simultaneously on it. However, it seems that there is more to this problem than the simple lack of progress. It seems as though there is more boardroom strife that is occurring here than one would assume. Perhaps Adobe is bitter that Jobs, in a conference call with reporters, claimed that Flash was not good enough for the iPhone. Considering how important sales of the iPhone are for Apple, I would think that they would be doing everything they could do instead of insulting Adobe. Plus, only a few short weeks after dissing Adobe, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit, apparently allowing them to make a version of Flash that was iPhone capable. Even after this though, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen claimed that the two companies needed to both be involved in this project, claiming the Software Development Kit was not accomplishing everything they had hoped. There seems to be a great deal of pettiness when it comes to the introduction of Flash capabilities to the iPhone. Many speculate that the boardroom drama is holding it up more than the technological issues themselves. It is really a pity that these two companies cannot find some way to reconcile their grievances with each other so that the customers do not have to suffer. The iPhone is the undisputed king of the mobile phones with internet access but there is one gaping hole in its services. Many videos online will not work simply due to the fact that there is no Flash installed on the phone. If it is a technological problem, then I do not begrudge the companies one bit, however it simply seems like there is more to it than just that. There is no public feud between the two firms but all signs point to the fact that more is going on than a tech delay. If this is the case, then I am severely disappointed in both, but more so Apple. I would assume they were above all that.

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