updated 10:20 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2008
Adobe iPhone Flash Coming
Adobe is in the process of developing its own Flash client for the iPhone, company chief Shantanu Narayen told investment experts during a conference call (registration required). The executive revealed that Adobe has obtained the publicly available Software Development Kit and intends to release a version of the animation plugin through the App Store as soon as the software is completed. Narayen stated that analysis by the company suggested a form of Flash could be developed without requiring special access to Apple's mobile Safari browser and that it would be an important launch regardless of how it arrives.
"We believe Flash is synonymous with the Internet experience, and we are committed to bringing Flash to the iPhone," the Adobe head noted. "We have evaluated [the SDK] and we think we can develop an iPhone Flash player ourselves."
Any implementation would require that Flash load as a stand-alone application rather than as a direct plugin, as Apple's official guidelines bar third-party software from running in the background or launching separate executable code.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has so far dismissed current Flash versions as fundamentally unworkable for the iPhone, preventing a direct port of existing technology. To him, mobile versions such as Flash Lite 3 are considered too feature-limited while the desktop-class software is too demanding for the relatively limited resources of current handheld devices. Jobs also suggested that there was a program necessary in between the two extremes but did not say that any compromise had been struck between Apple and Adobe.
The iPhone maker is now under increased pressure to match or exceed rival smartphone designers in adding rich web content to its mobile OS, as Microsoft just recently licensed Flash Lite for Windows Mobile to allow third-party cellphone manufacturers the option of an animation plugin. A mobile version of Microsoft's own Silverlight animation and application plugin is similarly in progress.