Adobe Flash Finally On iPhone? Well, Sort Of. Uh, No


Is Adobe's Flash software coming to the Apple iPhone or not coming to the Apple iPhone? The answer is "sort of" -- it's available through third-party-developed Flash apps created with Adobe's upcoming Flash Professional CS5 release.

What isn't so ambiguous, however, is how what was supposed to be a celebratory week for Adobe and its latest Flash software has instead ramped up the tension between the software maker and Apple, whose iPhone is among the only smartphones in the world that doesn't support Flash.

In short, Adobe Flash will come to the iPhone, but only as a third-party application -- Adobe's new Flash update, the Professional CS5 release, lets app developers create Flash-based programs for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch and offer them through Apple's App Store.

Adobe said Monday during Adobe's Max 2009 conference that six Flash apps are already available through the App Store and that there will be more once Adobe releases the new Flash Professional to more developers.

Adobe on Monday introduced the latest version of its Flash Player, optimized to support not only smartphones but also netbooks and other devices. David Wadhwani, Adobe's general manager and vice president, platform business unit, confirmed that mobile devices with the completed Flash Player will begin shipping in early 2010.

According to Adobe, the soon-to-be-available public developer beta of Flash Player 10.1 works for Windows Mobile and Palm webOS mobile operating systems. Betas are also in the works for Google Android and Nokia Symbian OS-based devices, and Adobe has signed on Research In Motion's BlackBerry for Flash Player, too.

Which, of course, leaves Apple in the background and iPhone as the odd phone out, and the high hopes for full-fledged Flash support on the iPhone have once again been dashed.

Adobe has acknowledged its impasse with Apple over Flash-for-iPhone in the past, and the tension continued at Adobe Max 2009. According to news sources, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch even poked a little fun at Apple and iPhone, comparing it to a rotary-dial phone, apparently joking about its old fashioned-ness.

If "Flash apps" take off -- and who's to say they won't -- maybe it will be enough to finally convince Apple that Flash and iPhone don't have to be mutually exclusive, especially now that Flash is coming to RIM's BlackBerry, another smartphone titan.

"We believe these apps are good for Apple and good for iPhone. We have no reason to believe that Apple won't love this," said Adrian Ludwig, a product manager for Adobe's Flash Platform group, according to sources.