Analysts disagree whether Apple can refuse Flash for iPhone

Adobe's plan to develop Flash release for mobile device sets up possible rapprochement

Gold agreed that unless Apple agrees to work closely with Adobe to optimize the upcoming Flash Lite software for the iPhone, the risk remains that the software won't display videos or run applications well enough to satisfy users. "Flash Lite could very well turn out to be a dog on the iPhone," he said. "We just don't know."

Another issue is whether Adobe still hopes to get Apple to pay a royalty fee for each copy of Flash installed on iPhones. Adobe has long charged such fees, but it has been reducing them in an attempt to spur the adoption of Flash Lite.

According to Constantinou, Adobe's official royalty fee is US25 cents per phone. But he said that as long ago as last May, Adobe indicated that the average royalty being paid was US19 cents. The royalty rate "should in practice be significantly lower" now because of Adobe's "subsidy strategy," as well as the bulk licensing nature of recent deals that the company has signed with Microsoft and Nokia.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Adobe's plans. Neither did Research In Motion, which now may come under more pressure to put Flash on its BlackBerry devices. Adobe's announcement on Monday that Microsoft had licensed Flash Lite for use on Windows Mobile devices leaves BlackBerry and iPhone as the only major holdouts among smartphone platforms.

However, there are several unofficial workarounds (see this site and this one) that let some newer BlackBerry models do things for which Flash is normally required, such as watching YouTube videos.

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Eric Lai

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