Adobe drops a Flash bombshell on Apple's iPhone

At the Adobe Max Conference in Los Angeles today, Adobe had some big announcements for the technology world and Apple in particular.

This morning, they announced that Flash 10.1 would be available on just about every single mobile hardware platform out there.   Blackberries, Android phones, Symbian Phones, Palm Pres and Windows Mobile would all be able to run Flash applications using their new software.  The 10.1 version of Flash would also be available for Mac, Windows and Linux desktops as well.

Basically just about anything with a keyboard and a screen, except the iPhone, will be getting a usable version of Flash.

Silly video put out by Adobe

It was later revealed that the minimum hardware requirements for these mobile devices would be an ARM Cortex A-series processor (and of course Intel on the desktop).   It just so happens that the processor inside the iPhone is an ARM Cortex A-Series chip –specifically the Samsung S5PC100 which is the same class of chip that the Palm Pre and new Android devices will get.

While Adobe didn't mention whether or not Apple would allow Flash on the iPhone, the next huge announcement made it fairly unlikely:

Adobe released the news later in the day that the next version of Flash (CS5) would allow Flash developers to export their Flash applications as native Phone applications.  These applications can then be submitted to the App Store via Apple's traditional process.  There, they will undergo the same scrutiny as apps built with Apple's iPhone SDK.

Eight apps have already made it through the process and can currently be purchased from the App Store. More should follow in the coming months and the beta software should be available to developers by the end of the year.

This is a big deal for a number of reasons. 

First, Apple hasn't sanctioned any third party development tools for the iPhone.  It remains to be seen how they react to this news. 

Flash won't create Intel binaries (just ARM) so the applications won't run on the iPhone Desktop Simulator.  This would be an easy way for Apple to determine if an app was built with Flash (and deny it if so).

The fact that Adobe has built this complexity into Flash CS5 means that they hold little hope that Apple will let Flash onto the iPhone in the Mobile Safari browser as it is built into other platforms.

This is also interesting because some feel that Apple's Keynote application is an alternative development environment to Flash because it allows you to export simple animated presentations to .swf format without using Adobe's Flash development environment.

If you are looking for a lot more information on Adobe's Flash to iPhone app export, check the details here and FAQ here.

Adobe has shown that it is willing to work hard at getting Flash onto the iPhone and that it is very possible with the hardware that the iPhone currently enjoys. 


Perhaps Apple should consider letting it be a full citizen on the platform like other devices in the iPhone's class.  If they are worried about user choice, they could stipulate a Click-to-Flash type of  manual loading of Flash applications.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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