Apple’s mobile devices that run the mobile verison of their web browser Safari, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and now iPad, do not support Flash video. Adobe Flash is a plugin for browsers that allows all kinds of video to play from sites like Hulu, ESPN, JibJab, and many others, including Flash-based games. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad it was hard not to notice the “Blue Lego Block of Ambiguity[TM]” that resides where a Flash video would normally play. Adobe immediately responded to the matter:
It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers. Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers. And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web.
If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab — not to mention the millions of other sites on the web — I’ll be out of luck.
Adobe goes on to share that any other mobile devices like the Nokia N900 have no trouble at all supporting Flash video in their respective browsers. In a related blog post following this response, Adobe labels a section “The iPad provides the ultimate browsing experience?” Next to this title is a bunch of mockups Adobe created that show the iPad loading a handful of website that include the Blue Lego Block of Ambiguity[TM]. Adobe is striking back against Apple and is insisting that the iPad and the iPhone cannot promote “the ultimate browsing experience” without the support of Flash. Adobe employee Lee Brimelow believes that Apple does not want to include Flash into their browsers because it would take customers away from their iTunes/App Store ecosystem: “They don’t want you to go to Hulu or play Flash games because they worry that you won’t buy their apps.” The man makes a valid point. Either way, if Apple thinks their platforms can survive without Flash support, they better figure out an alternative way to watch all these videos. It won’t be long until people are fed up with not being able to watch their favorite TV shows with Hulu on Apple’s attractive but not 100% functional devices.
Update: This late-breaking news comes from Wired. At a recent town hall meeting in Cupertino, Steve Jobs addressed Apple employees, touching upon the latest remarks from Adobe and even take a jab at Google. He called Adobe “lazy” and said that “Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.” Strong words coming from Jobs. But truthful and honest nonetheless. HTML 5 will slowly but surely take the place of Flash as it becomes more widespread and implemented into many websites. YouTube is currently in beta with HTML 5 video playback. Though Flash is prone to crashes and HTML 5 is on the way, a gaping hole still exists for Apple’s products today because tons of videos rely on Flash. Unfortunately for Adobe this is a lose-lose situation; Adobe needs Apple to support Flash, but Apple does not need Adobe. And in a year or so, HTML 5 will likely wipe out the need for Flash for most devices.
Though Google has stated on many occasions that they are accepting of all phone manufacturers and welcome handset competition, Jobs had this to say about Google and their Android platform: “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.” And what of Google’s don’t be evil mantra?: “It’s bullshit,” says Jobs. Oh, it’s on!