The lack of Flash capability in the iPhone's Mobile Safari browser has been a bone of contention for many naysayers for years, even if Apple's made its case pretty well. It seems the iPad won't have it either, and Adobe is upset.
Over at Adobe's Flash Platform blog there's a new post on this very matter by Adobe's Adrian Ludwig, but it's a complex little twisty piece of writing. The blog post starts by complementing Apple on the iPad—Ludwig professes himself impressed, before noting that Apple's often previously been good at driving momentum into an entire product category. "It's no surprise that the iPad looks like it's a pretty good new device," he says.
Then Ludwig's piece turns to Adobe's involvement in the new gizmo, things like PDF and ePub which were featured during Steve Job's presentation, though they didn't quite take "center stage" as Ludwig would like us to believe. He then notes that Adobe tech is "at the center of virtually every print and digital workflow, so undoubtedly a lot of what you'll see getting delivered to the iPad will have originated in Adobe creative software. Hmm.
Then comes the best bit, where Ludwig mentions the "oops!" moment during Jobs' speech whereby the Web page he surfed to contained a big empty square and a default graphic indicating that a Flash event had failed to run. Steve joked the OS wasn't quite yet optimized, but it's clear now that the iPad won't get Flash. And that's got Adobe all upset, because the next thing Ludwig does is slam Apple for "imposing restrictions" and "limiting both content publishers and consumers".
And there was me thinking, "Wow! Apple just enabled a whole new type of surfing the Web!" But if it's not done with Adobe tech, that's not true...according to Adobe. Apple is doing its usual trick of "imposing restrictions" that'll limit people's enjoyment of Flash-powered Web sites, including "over 70% of games and 75% of video on the Web." He then takes a swipe at Apple's use of ePub—noting that unlike other makers of e-readers, Apple's ePub books will be DRM-ed so that you cant read them on other e-readers (Ludwig ignores the fact that many of these other makers don't actually release their own published content, unlike Apple). We're not sure where he gets that from, as it's not on Apple's site anywhere...and it's no different from Amazon's even more closed-source solution.
The blog post closes with comments describing Adobe's role in the Open Screen Project, which is trying to let consumers get access to all sorts of media content on almost any digital platform. Basically Adobe is painted as being super consumer-friendly, while Apple is a tyrannical dictator.
All Adobe's doing is portraying itself like a snarky, pissed-off teenager who's not getting his way. Flash is undoubtedly useful for some things, but in general it's a hindrance on a mobile device—eating up processor cycles that are best used elsewhere, requiring more data downloads over an expensive and slow 3G network. Having used an iPhone for 18 months I almost never notice that I'm missing out on something due to a lack of Flash—in fact I'm more annoyed when a Web site takes me to their default mobile device version automatically, when the iPhone is more than capable of viewing the original. With HTML5 slowly seeping into Web programming, Flash may well become redundant soon—Google's already experimenting with the idea. And the iPad is certainly HTML5 compliant.