Kevin Tofel on the announcement of Android support for Flash:
The key word in Adobe’s press release today being “expected,” which appears three times. Platforms other than Android are expected to integrate and work with Flash Player. All of the latest Android handsets are expected to see Froyo, which is required for Flash Player 10.1. The production version of Flash is expected to be available as a final production release for Froyo devices. Translation: Adobe hasn’t delivered anything to most handsets today and the fate of Flash Player is increasingly out of Adobe’s hands.
Kevin is spot on in highlighting Adobe’s use of the word “expect”, but I disagree with his last sentence. The fate of Flash Player isn’t out of Adobe’s hands: in fact, the fate of a platform which relies on Flash as a development environment is out of the hands of the platform’s creator.
If you want to know why Apple wants Flash kept away from iOS, you should ask Palm:
Adobe hasn’t given any signs that it’s close to porting Flash to webOS, Palm said in an AT&T online app development seminar on Thursday. When asked about the multiple delays, a representative said that Palm didn’t ‘know what the hold-up is’ with getting it ready. Adobe itself hasn’t commented on the state of the webOS version or of other platforms.
Would Adobe keep Flash updated for iPhone? Yes – as long as it wanted to. And the moment that it didn’t want to, or had other priorities, or simply hit some problems, Apple would have the millstone of an old development platform around its neck.
Apple has been in that position before, and it wont allow itself to go there again.
UPDATE: According to what I’m going to call “informed sources”, Electronista’s report doesn’t represent what was actually said at the event. In fact, what was said was that Palm “had no update” to make – which means that it didn’t have anything to announce at that time, not that it didn’t know what the situation was, which is what Electronista is implying.
In the comments to the story, Palm’s Chuq Von Rospach posted this:
Adobe and Palm continue to work together to bring Flash Player 10.1 to WebOS as quickly as possible. At present, the integration work between the Player and WebOS is undergoing extensive testing to ensure we deliver a high quality implementation.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the point I’m making here is wrong. Having a third party who has significant levels of control over your platform is exactly what Apple is seeking to avoid with its effective ban on Flash.
Some interesting comments on Flash, from Opera’s product analyst Phillip Grønvold:
“Today’s internet content is dependant on Flash,’ said Grønvold. ‘If you remove Flash you do not have today’s internet. We are trying to give the best internet experience for our users therefore we need Flash – there is no way to beat around that bush.
But at Opera we say that the future of the web is open web standards and Flash is not an open web standards technology. Flash does have its purposes and will have its purposes, the same as [Microsoft's] Silverlight and others, especially for dynamic content. But flash as a video container makes very little sense for CPU, WiFi battery usage etcetera – you can cook an egg on [devices] once you start running Flash on them and there’s a reason for that.”
In other words: Flash is a temporary fix to a problem which is going away.
Think that Steve Jobs is talking out of his behind when he says that Apple needs full control over its platform? Perhaps ARM’s experience with Smartbooks will help you understand:
‘ARM dominates the mobile phone chip design market and has since 2008 been trying to get into the subnotebook market as well. The plan was to do so through Linux-based, ARM-powered ‘smartbooks’ that would provide an instant-on, longer-life alternative to x86-based netbooks but, according to ARM’s marketing vice president, Ian Drew, events have conspired to stall this plan.
“We thought [smartbooks] would be launched by now, but they’re not,” Drew told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. “I think one reason is to do with software maturity. We’ve seen things like Adobe slip — we’d originally scheduled for something like 2009.”‘
If you hand your developer platform over to a third party, you’re handing the whole platform over to them. You’re effectively tying your fate to theirs, and allowing them control over your future. For some, that might be acceptable. But for Apple, it’s not.
Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols:
“Apples iron-bound determination to keep Adobe Flash out of any iWhatever device is about to blow up in Apples face. Sources close to Adobe tell me that Adobe will be suing Apple within a few weeks.”
If Steven is correct – and he’s not the kind of guy to write this without some good sources – then things are about to get very interesting indeed.