Why doesn’t my iPhone have Flash?
Why should it?

Games! Videos! The Dr. Phil sound board!
I hate to say it, but for every one of those, there’s an app for that.

OK, fine. But there’s still lots of websites that use flash. Most of my favorite local restaurants do! 99% of computers have it installed, and Apple ships OS X with it!
Flash is all over the place on computers. But mobile flash has several challenges. For example, dragging the slider on a YouTube video with your mouse is easy - hold down the button and move the mouse. But on an iPhone, dragging your finger just scrolls one direction.

So what? Apple has solved problems like that before - look at what they did with copy and paste! It’s really good!
Wow, you’re really enthusiastic about this! You must be a fanboy. Why don’t you just marry Apple and get it over with?

You’re the one who has dedicated 40% of his posts so far to them.
You’re… you’re right. I’ve come to a sad realization.

Here’s the thing: if Apple allowed flash, all sorts of new games would be instantly usable, and it would be easier to make something in Flash than learning Objective-C.
Possibly. But look at the performance of Flash on the Mac - it’s terrible. If you’re on YouTube, your CPU will skyrocket, your computer gets really hot and your battery life suffers. Do you want that to happen to your phone?

But they’re solving problems like that already! Android is getting flash. Sounds like you’re just making excuses for Apple. What do they say when people ask about this?
Not a whole lot. But I don’t think their issue is with performance.

So if flash ran a lot better, Apple would still reject it?
Yes. It’s all about control.

You mean, Steve Jobs wants to control Adobe?
Not exactly. Apple wants to own the entire device from top to bottom. They design the hardware, manufacture the chips and can change any part of the software they want. They can reject any app for any reason just to “control the experience”. They can fix any bugs that crop up, too. Browser plugins like flash cause the vast majority of crashes on desktop computers, and Microsoft and Apple can’t do a whole lot about it.

OK, interesting. That’s why the iPhone is really stable and there aren’t any viruses affecting them - Apple has to approve every piece of code that runs on it.
Pretty much. Flash would allow you to write something and run it without Apple’s blessing.

You can still write an app in javascript, though, and anyone can use it without Apple’s approval.
You sure can.

So what happens when javascript gets as fast as flash?
That will be pretty sweet! I’ll bet the next iPhone will have a faster processor, so this could happen really soon.

You’ll be able to run all kinds of useful webapps still, right? Like you can now, only faster?
Yeah, it will be neat. You’ll see games and stuff that are webapps instead of native apps, and you won’t be able to tell the difference.

But won’t that “hurt the experience” if people no longer need the app store? Apple can’t control every website.
That’s… a good point. I guess we’ll wait and see on that one.

Posted Mon 01 March 2010