Adobe’s Rich Internet Application Evangelist Ryan Stewart countered Jobs’ complaints about Flash in his blog on ZDNet. Citing 450 million Flash-enabled devices currently in circulation, with 1 billion expected by 2010, Stewart wrote, “I’d even go as far as to say that the web experience isn’t complete on the iPhone until some kind of Flash support is added.”
Stewart advocates for Flash Lite in mobile devices while Jobs wants something more akin to the full desktop version of Flash on the iPhone. Since no one outside of Apple has witnessed Flash performance of any sort on an iPhone, no one knows what Jobs means when he says Flash performance is in adequate. But many have openly suspected that Apple never intends to support Flash on the iPhone. Robert X. Cringely put it best back in December when he wrote:
One product I believe WON’T be coming soon from Apple is a Flash plug-in for the iPhone. Though this was at one time promised, it is hard to say how real that promise ever was because of the strategic importance of Apple’s WebKit — the basis of the Safari browser on Mac, Windows, and now the iPhone and iPod Touch…
…The point of WebKit for Apple was to define an open source standard for rendering web pages on all sorts of Internet-enabled devices. This also explains why Apple used KHTML instead of Gecko or its own web engine for Safari — even though KHTML was terrible at rendering web pages that were optimized for Internet Explorer. KHTML is the only rendering engine that can pass the Acid2 web-rendering test, and following a standard was more important to Apple than correctly rendering poorly written web pages.
Which brings us back to the lack of a Flash player or plug-in for the iPhone, which is the single greatest reason why we do not yet see true third-party iPhone applications. Had Apple allowed a Flash player on the iPhone, it risked having Flash — rather than the Apple-preferred Ajax — become the dominant iPhone web application development environment.
With so many other mobile vendors able to make Flash work, three months later Cringley’s assertions make sense.