Critics have bashed Apple for omitting Adobe Flash support from the iPhone's "real life" Safari browser, and with good reason: a quick spin around the Web on an iPhone reveals sites that don't work, or don't work well without the plug-in. Now, it's rumored to be coming, via a quote from Mossberg himself. The question is, was the original exclusion of Flash a technical decision or a business decision?
You'll recall Apple's celebrated announcement of YouTube support. However, the fine print suggested you couldn't get all YouTube video, but only those that had been rolled over to the Apple-favored H.264 video codec.
Although this was arguably a technical hurdle, Archos <a href="http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/field-notes/first-hands+on-with-archos-605-wi+fi-cinemanow-downloading-pmp-268985.php
">had just announced and demonstrated a Wi-Fi media player that could easily browse YouTube, and queue up any video on the site, using an <a href="http://www.archos.com/products/gen_5/archos_605wifi/tech_specs.html
">Opera browser with Flash plug-in. Did the Archos 605 have that much more processing muscle? Teardowns of the iPhone have revealed a sufficiently sturdy ARM processor, so we think it's doubtful.
My suspicion is that a Flash-friendly iPhone wasn't good leverage to convince Google to adopt the H.264 codec crucial to the YouTubin' success of the browserless Apple TV platform. By giving YouTube special favoritism in the iPhone launch, Apple got Google to do its codec swaperoo. But people have demanded more, because this isn't just about YouTube. People want Flash for non video stuff, too. (Games, websites that choose to unwisely use it for their entire menu structure)
A more simple and therefore probably reason is that Apple and Adobe didn't have enough time to build it into the phone. Not an issue, since firmware every quarter, flush with features, is the way gadgets roll these days. (Zune, Xbox, Wii.)
The man who ought to know, Walt Mossberg, says that Flash will come as a simple software update, answering our question about technical capability:
Apple says [to Mossberg, not to the general public] it plans to add that plug-in through an early software update, which I am guessing will occur within the next couple of months.
Let those software updates roll!
Questions About Apple's iPhone [Allthingsd.com]