An Active Choice: No Flash Support for iPhone, iPad

Main Thread 2 min read

With the continued trend of not supporting Flash in the new iPad, another wave of articles hit the web. Instead of whine like the rest, I offer two reasons why Apple does not support Flash on its iPhone OS. Please note this is merely my speculation as a third party Flash and iPhone applications developer. Regardless, I hope it can shed light on the matter until an official release.

Limited Device Resources

All of the devices that run iPhone OS have limited resources and last I looked Flash can be a resource hog. It takes a lot of processing power, and memory, for all those flashy things that make Flash, well Flash. Apple can not guarantee that these devices could run every Flash app. Even if they could, your battery would probably last an hour. That's problematic, and boils down to a liability for Apple. After all, it's easier for a user to blame the device than an application (i.e. Flash).

No Regulation

Flash support would more than likely be available only within the Safari app to view websites. I assume this is the initial user demand – to view sites with Flash content. However, Flash has uses well beyond web content. Most of us see Flash as media players and games. Both of which have implications, but let's focus on the latter: Games. It's estimated that 70% of the current 150,000 applications in the App Store are games. Apple receives 30% of the revenue generated by a paid application. We are all aware of Apple's application review process as there are twice as many articles on that topic. Of course, Apple does not review web content displayed within the Safari App.

So lets add this up. If Flash were supported within Safari, Flash developers could make applications for the device without having to pass the notorious application approval process. With far more Flash developers than iPhone developers a flood of unregulated applications would hit to the device. Just as it did with the web several years. So, why would Apple support technology that could directly compete with one of their largest sources of revenue for the device? They won't, and neither would any business.


Apple needs to do with is best for themselves and the users of the device. Currently that means no Flash support. I believe this is an active choice. A technical decision made by Apple. It's not personal, it's business.

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