October 05, 2009, 9:44 PM — Adobe had a big dog and pony show today to announce the approach Flash Player 10.1 on a number of mobile platforms. All the heavy hitters will be covered: WebOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Android ... am I forgetting someone?
Ha ha, yes, Apple is still being standoffish about adding the near-ubiquitous video streaming technology to its phone. Its reasons are not a secret: they don't like virtual machines or applications-within-applications-esque runtimes like Java or Flash on the phone, for reasons of power consumption and stability. They're also not keen on leaning heavily on proprietary technology owned by other companies -- which Flash is, despite their somewhat disingenuous name for the effort to get Flash on mobile devices, the "Open Screen Project." Apple would rather have Flash-like effects delivered by some open industry standard approved by the W3C, like HTML 5.
But even if that weren't true, Apple's incentive to add Flash to its phone would still be fairly low, because it involves work, and everyone else seems to be rushing to accommodate the gadget's Flashlessness. Possibly the most popular Flash site on the Internet today is YouTube, and Google and Apple worked even before the phone's release to ensure that most YouTube videos would be available via H.264. And even Adobe seems to be tacitly admitting that it can't lose its developers to the siren song of the App Store; the next version of Flash Developer will include an option that spits out Flash applications as fully formed native iPhone apps. In this sense Adobe joins a number of other development tools maker recognizing that iPhone development is hot, and providing a way for their developers to take advantage without having to learn Objective-C.
But the place where Flash is most important is in the browser, not in standalone apps. And presumably Apple will only consider Adobe's pleas for inclusion in Mobile Safari when iPhone users start getting really annoyed by reaching Flash-based pages that they can't use. That hasn't happened yet. But if every other smartphone on the market can get to Flash sites, that might start being a real selling point.