It’s something Mac users have lived with for years: the version of Adobe’s Flash Player for OSX runs much less efficiently than its Windows counterpart. Perhaps then, we shouldn’t have been all that surprised to hear Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ explanation of why the iPhone doesn’t support Flash. Simply put, it runs too darn slow, while the cut-down version designed specifically for mobile devices – known as Flash Lite – isn’t fully-featured enough to grace the screen of Apple’s device. However, Adobe could be about to put its house in order with regards to support for the Mac, leading to speculation that the iPhone could be next.
According to Adobe developer Tinic Uro, the latest beta of Adobe Flash Player 10 running on Mac OSX is significantly faster than previous versions. “If you have followed GUIMark at all you will notice that this version of the player runs this benchmark substantially better on OSX than any previous Flash Player version”, writes Uro on his personal blog. “It should be up to 3 times faster”.
Just in the same way that improvements to Apple’s desktop version of its Safari web browser eventually trickle down to the company’s mobile version, it’s logical to assume that a more efficient version of Flash for Mac helps Adobe’s case in persuading Apple to sanction porting Flash onto the iPhone, as both platforms share the same core operating system. However, it’s far from clear if “3 times faster” on Mac OSX translates into Flash running “fast enough” on the iPhone.
And, as we’ve argued in the past, the inefficiency of Flash, whilst real, maybe a smokescreen for the real reason Jobs doesn’t want to see Adobe’s software on iPhone anytime soon.
Instead, this is really a battle over whose technology becomes the choice for those developing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) for mobile devices. Adobe hopes it will be the company’s Flash-based AIR platform, while Jobs is intent on ensuring that nothing detracts from the iPhone’s newly released Software Development Kit (SDK) or Safari’s support for emerging Web standards that enable RIA features such as video/animation and offline storage.
Photo illustration by Gizmodo.