The Real Reason Apple Hates Flash (Part II)

Posted on: February 23, 2010
Posted in Mobile, Strategy

The Real Reason Apple Hates Flash (Part II)

In part I of this post I discussed reasons why Apple is hell-bent on skirting Flash on its line of iPhone OS products. It had to do with Apple’s dominant micropayment / transactions franchise, and the potential to steer ad dollars away from Google… Here are some additional reasons why I predict Apple will not allow Flash runtimes on either iPhone or iPad….ever.

  1. The concept of “hover over” does not exist on iPhone/iPad. This is a HUGE problem. Flash content designed to run on the desktop assumes the presence of a mouse pointer (e.g. when you mouse over a Toyota Flash banner and the wheels spin). How do you mouse over w/ a finger? You don’t. Flash was never conceived around multi-touch interfaces. This is reason enough for Apple to try to kill Flash – they want to OWN the multi-touch space and give products like the iPad a unique “Apple look and feel” versus what people will see from PCs / netbooks.
  2. The world is moving to H.264 CODECs (using MPEG-4 as a container format). Google is proving this in migrating YouTube videos. QuickTime also uses these formats to encapsulate and deliver web video. In the early 2000’s Microsoft worked to bundle Flash (Macromedia at the time) w/ IE as way to weaken QuickTime’s emergence as a video delivery standard. This early MSFT/Flash alliance likely formed the basis for Apple’s initial hatred of Flash!
  3. The Symbian / Android / Windows Mobile 7 camp appear bent on getting Flash to work on mobile – in large part to tout a ‘competitive advantage’ over Apple’s closed iPhone. Ironically, this will further fragment their mobile app development efforts. Apple knows this. Mark Suster wrote a great post on how fragmented app development hurts the mobile web. The reality is that Apple views this fragmentation as helping them to build a larger lead, since it will be simply too difficult for app developers to support HTML-5 in addition to Flash, Cocoa, JAVA-ME et al (developers can’t embrace everything due to limited resources). This will actually help Apple maintain its lead in the app store, since app developers will devote the lion’s share of their fragmented resources to the largest app marketplace…Apple’s.

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