Bite this, Apple: 5 reasons Flash would've rocked the iPhone

Flash on the iPhone won't happen, according to Steve Jobs. Here are 5 reasons that's too bad.

The sparring between Apple and Adobe, on whether Flash belongs on mobile devices such as the iPhone, has gone from philosophical to real. Steve Jobs wrote in an open letter that he's yet to see Flash running on any mobile device, and Adobe responded by saying it'll ship Flash Player 10.1 for Android phones as a public preview in May, with a general release in June. Finally, Android will demonstrate whether Flash on the iPhone would've been as bad as Jobs makes it out to be. I think not, and here are five reasons why:

Free Stuff

Jobs' claim that you can supplant Flash with the App Store and the Web omits a critical point: Even if you could get the same experience with those means, it wouldn't be free. Case in point is Canabalt, a fun little time waster that's free on the Web but $3 on the iPhone. Gaming isn't the only example, as the MLB At Bat app costs $15 but there's no way for MLB.tv subscribers to watch games for free in the iPhone Web browser.

Cross-Platform

Yes, allowing Flash on the iPhone would taint the experience of that particular device, but it would also represent a way out of Apple's ecosystem. Like any Web app, Flash games or other applications can store your data in the cloud, letting you pick up from where you left off on another machine. You can't say that about the App Store unless all your devices run the iPhone OS.

Community of Gamers

Apple may have the world's largest gaming platform on volume alone, but it doesn't have a community built around it. iPhone gamers can't play on Flash game sites like Kongregate, which gives players achievements, challenges, contests and chat rooms. Nor can they enjoy the gamut of Facebook games that are fused with their existing social networks. Even if a high-profile game like Farmville came to the iPhone, it wouldn't replace the entirety of those community features.

The Real Full Web

In writing, the term "weasel words" means avoiding specifics in order to twist the truth or cover for a lack of research. Adobe says Flash allows for the full Web, and Jobs' counter-argument has a couple of these weasel words. He says "almost all" Flash video is available in more modern, iPhone-supported formats, and says iPhone users "aren't missing much" video. What does that mean, exactly? That they're still missing -- and here's a weasel word of my own -- a decent amount.

Choice Rules

Ultimately, the Flash debate comes down to principle. Apple wants to control the experience people have on iPhone OS devices, ostensibly for the benefit of consumers but partly for the company's own good. But the great thing about Flash on PCs is that you can avoid it. You can choose not to install Flash in your Web browser, or use an extension like ClickToFlash, which hides all Flash operations except for ones you specifically allow. Having the choice to do so is a wonderful thing.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPhonesmartphonesadobe flash

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?