Flash on iPhones? Adobe’s Done Trying

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It’s no secret that Apple doesn’t care to put Adobe Flash on iPhones and iPads, but now the feeling from Adobe appears to be mutual.

When asked by the Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg whether Adobe is done arguing with Apple over Flash, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said “Absolutely.” Not surprisingly, Narayen thinks Flash-equipped Android tablets will get the best of Apple’s iPad in the end.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously slammed Flash in an April 2010 editorial. Jobs said Flash is unreliable on mobile devices, drains battery and isn’t designed for touch screens. He also derided Flash for being proprietary, and noted that lots of major sites now offer video in H.264 — a format that Apple supports. Apple has never allowed Flash to run on iOS devices, and last October, the company stopped pre-installing Flash on Mac computers, although users can still install the software themselves.

In an interview with Mossberg at the All Things D conference, Narayen suggested that the Flash issue wasn’t merely about technology. “It’s a business model issue, and it’s about control of a platform,” he said. In other words, Flash-based videos and games, offered through a web browser, reduce the need for Apple’s App Store, arguably the most important part of the iOS platform.

That may be true, but Flash’s technical issues can’t be ignored. As Mossberg pointed out, he’s “yet to test a single [Android phone] where Flash works really well.”

That’s been my experience as well. Videos sometimes stumble on playback; games can drag, especially if they’re not made for mobile devices; and Flash-based ads are a burden on ordinary web pages. There’s some fun to be had with Flash on smartphones and tablets, and I’m always frustrated when the iPhone can’t play a video on the web, but mobile Flash is far from perfect.

I would’ve liked to see Narayen acknowledge that fact instead of pinning the blame entirely on Apple’s business model.

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