Back to the Flash

Flash has been running on non-Apple tablets for several months now and I haven’t heard any horror stories of the massive security breaches because of Flash that Steve Jobs predicted. At least no horror stories on par with the ones about Apple being able to track you with your iPhone.

I noticed that Adobe has extended support for Apple Newsstand in their Designers Suite. This could be an olive branch extended to Apple following the announcement of Job’s departure as CEO. Even if it isn’t, this would be a good time for Apple to follow suit and reciprocate by allowing Flash and Flash based apps to run on iPad.

The apps will still have to meet Apple’s rigorous standards. The fact that they were developed with an Adobe engine instead of Apple’s SDK shouldn’t stand in their way.

Sure Flash isn’t perfect, and web-based Flash games will frequently have problems with mapping mouse and keyboard controls to touch controls. But as demand soars, those bugs will get ironed out.

Flash is great for developers who don’t want to invest in the Apple SDK and learn a new language and develop a decent Flash app from the ground up. And, in spite of Job’s assurances that the games will be just as good, I’ve noticed that the iPad reworking of Flash games are often not as good.

This leaves small developers with crappy third party options like Game Salad which has produced some decent games, but no great games. And the Game Salad developers’ documentation is horribly disorganized and complex. Sure developers don’t write code, but I think it might actually be easier than using their software.

There may be a couple of signs that Apple is weakening in their position. Not caving in like Obama did with the Republicans on the Bush tax cuts (only to have them turn around and blame him for the increasing deficit which, duh, will always happen when you extend tax cuts). But maybe wavering a bit.

Apple has finally approved the release of Skywire and iSwifter browsers which do allow Flash video playback (and, in the case of iSwifter, some Flash based online games).

But I want to see Flash apps that run on the iPad without a browser. Adobe had actually developed a Flash platform that allowed Flash games to run on the iPad, but Apple refused to cooperate. I think it’s time to beg forgiveness and let Adobe release the platform.

It is stupid, and I mean stupid, to lose any market share to other tablets just because they run Flash and you don’t.

I’ve said this before and I’ll sat this again. I bought the damn tablet, I should have the right to use Flash based apps if I want. And if I’m a developer who’s willing to pay Adobe’s admittedly exorbitant licensing fees to save the effort of rewriting an app from the ground up, how will it hurt Apple? They will still collect their percentage of the game download fee.

And if I finally decide that Flash based apps on the iPad really are crap in comparison to iOS native apps, that doesn’t hurt Apple either. In fact it further validates the brand. But until we can compare Flash apps and iOS apps head to head on the same device, we’ll never know, will we?

I’m sorry to see Steve leave, especially for health reasons. He was a genius even if he had his blind spots. But now that he has stepped down, maybe Apple can revisit the thinking on Flash.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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