Apple in no rush for iPhone Flash, says analyst

It has no urgent need, since the popular phone already handles YouTube

While Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. made nice over Flash today, there's little pressure for Apple Inc. to follow suit and rush to put the technology on its iPhone, according to one analyst. And Adobe seems to be in no hurry to help.

"There's no doubt that Flash is important for mobile and will become even more important," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch LLC and a Computerworld columnist. "But for Apple, it's not as urgent [for it to support Flash] as Microsoft.

"People want Flash primarily to get videos on YouTube, and Apple already has a tight relationship with YouTube. So there's less pressure for it to react," he added.

YouTube, the Google-owned user-generated video site and service, relies on Flash as the default format for its video clips.

Earlier today, Adobe announced that Microsoft had licensed Adobe Flash Lite, the Flash Player runtime designed for mobile devices. Microsoft, however, hasn't said when it would add Flash support to its Windows Mobile operating system, which powers smart phones made by OEMs such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung.

Apple's iPhone, meanwhile, doesn't support Flash, and according to comments from Apple CEO Steve Jobs two weeks ago, it isn't likely to do so anytime soon. Speaking at Apple's annual shareholders meeting, Jobs panned Flash Lite, saying that proper Flash "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone.

"There's this missing product in the middle. It just doesn't exist," he added.

"I read that as almost a challenge by Jobs to Adobe that Adobe create something [else] for the iPhone platform," said Gartenberg. "Apple has been particular about what goes on the iPhone and wants something [from Adobe] that meshes with the rest of the [iPhone's] applications."

Adobe, however, doesn't sound like it's rushing to put Flash on the iPhone. "We'd love to see Flash come to the iPhone," Anup Murarka, Abobe's director of technical marketing for mobile and devices, said in an e-mail. "Hopefully, when we have the opportunity to review the SDK, and if it's a vehicle to deliver a solution, we would look forward to working with Apple."

Apple released its iPhone software developer kit, or SDK, less than two weeks ago and will update all iPhones in June so that they are able to download and install third-party applications written for the device.

Gartenberg is optimistic, at least in the long run, that the two companies will see eye-to-eye at some point. "It's only a matter of time before the iPhone gets some sort of Flash support," he said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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