Jobs: Flash Is Too Much for iPhone

Technical limitations would make Flash a struggle on the iPhone, Apple CEO Jobs says.

In comments made the week of March 3 at Apple's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Steve Jobs said Adobe Systems' Flash media format was not suited for Apple's iPhone and that his company was not currently planning to support Flash on its popular mobile platform.

The Flash player itself can stream video, show animated and interactive content, and work with entry forms and other client-side data. However, all this requires a great deal of CPU power and RAM, more than most mobile devices currently on the market are packing.

This led Jobs to say that "proper" Flash "performs too slow to be useful," referring to the combination of the Flash player and the iPhone in their current versions. Some news outlets have run with this as Jobs bashing Adobe's product, though there is no record of any such bashing from Jobs.

Adobe does not even promote Flash for mobile devices. Instead, it offers Flash Lite, which was first used in Japan.

To read about two new mobile Flash offerings from Adobe, click here.

Anup Murarka, a member of the Macromedia Mobile and Devices team, wrote in a recent blog post that "Eighty percent of mobile phones sold in 2003 don't have sufficient memory or processing power to support Macromedia Flash Player. Of those that can support Macromedia Flash, very few are capable of supporting the complete Macromedia Flash 5 or Flash 6 formats. The Mobile and Devices team purposely chose distribution over functionality to reach as many consumers as possible."

Flash Lite is supported on many Windows Mobile-based phones, though there is no support for the current version of the full Flash player. However, Flash Lite is not the same as Flash. Flash Lite does not offer the full functionality of the desktop Flash player.

Apple, and Jobs, have touted the iPhone as providing access to "the Internet," which is often taken as meaning that the iPhone's Safari browser is a full-fledged Web browser, as compared with previous cell phone browsers that were restricted to "mobile" versions of Web pages.

Requiring content developers to create duplicate page versions and redirecting iPhone users to Flash Lite versions of Web pages-versions that provide limited content-would run counter to this marketing point.