In 2007 Steve Jobs first responded to the lack of Flash on the iPhone by stating that the current version of Flash is too resource intensive and that the current version of Flash Light was too limited.
We all nodded our heads and bought what he was selling (both literally and figuratively).
Back in those days Steve’s statements encouraged Adobe to devote resources to improving Flash player for mobile devices.
About 2 years ago, CEO Shantanu Narayen even went so far as to announced at the World Economic Forum that Adobe was working on a version of flash for the iPhone and later noted that putting Flash on the iPhone would be trivial and that it was completely up to Apple.
While this is complete speculation, I’m guessing that there is working copy of Flash on the iPhone and it’s been sitting in the basement of the Adobe headquarters for the past two or three years.
Actually, it’d be silly if Adobe didn’t have a version of Flash locked away on an iPhone somewhere. We are talking about intelligent Adobe engineers here. And getting root access to the device has been trivial since late 2007. If the mobile version of safari is void of the normal plug-in hooks then Adobe could have just dropped a completely different browser on the operating system.
I don’t pretend to know how Adobe could engineered it, I’m only theorizing that it’s highly likely to have already been done.
Now it’s 2010 and we all know that Steve never intended to allow Flash on the iPhone. Furthermore Steve’s been running his mouth all over town, calling Adobe “lazy”, encouraging media companies to drop Flash and even calling Flash a “CPU hog,”, source of “security holes” and calling Flash a “dying technology”.
Adobe’s response to the lack of Flash has grown more firm but it’s obvious that they don’t have any leverage in the situation. If you go to install flash on the iPhone you will find:
Apple restricts use of technologies required by products like Flash Player. Until Apple eliminates these restrictions, Adobe cannot provide Flash Player for the iPhone or iPod Touch.
And recently after the iPad announcement where Adobe stated:
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.
It appears to me that Apple is throwing punches and Adobe is quietly trying to play by the rules, hoping that mounting peer pressure will influence Apple to consider adding Flash to their handset.
Well it obviously this tactic isn’t working. Flash on the iPhone would be a significant financial hazard to the iTunes empire. Music, movie and application content are too valuable a resource to Apple. Allowing Flash content on Apple’s mobile deceives would threaten that money making machine. Adobe need to try a new approach.
If I were Adobe and I wanted to play hardball with Apple, I’d let the basement version of Flash for the (jail broken) iPhone slip out the backdoor.
Claim it wasn’t you, claim someone stole it, or even sue; but Adobe should ‘accidentally’ let this software slip out the backdoor and allow it to enter the wild world of the interwebs.
Lots of folks would avoid it but watching Hulu or other Flash content would be too tempting for many of the general public. Plus, I’d be eager to use some of that multitouch Flash Player 10.1 goodness on this device.
In a matter of days we would start to see a significant increase in the amount of hacked iPhones. This is the kind of pressure that Apple would have to respond to. I have no doubt that Apple would much rather see Flash on the iPhone than a growing percentage of hacked iPhones.
Sure, Apple would first try to fight it. They’d probably say jail broken phones are illegal, but we aren’t renting these phones and the general public can do whatever we want with our property. At the end of the day Apple would just be plum out of luck and there is nothing they could do about it.
Lots of folks would avoid the hassle but watching Hulu or some other flash content would be too tempting for many of the general public. There would be mounting pressure on Apple to just give in and allow the plugin. And maybe, just maybe, Apple would listen.
Does anyone else think this is possible?