“Over the last year, many observers have wondered when Apple would deliver Adobe Flash support on the iPhone. At the company’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Steve Jobs made comments that indicate that support isn’t coming anytime soon, thanks to architectural limitations in Flash itself. A full explanation of those limitations follow.
The iPhone’s mobile Safari browser delivers such a desktop-like experience that the main remaining element missing for most users has related to Flash, software commonly used by web designers to add interactive applets to their websites. Adobe’s Flash acts as a self contained environment for presenting interactive, animated elements on web pages.
The most common use of Flash is in banner ads that goad users to click the moving monkey or fight an opponent in order to draw attention to an advertised product. Flash has also become the lowest common denominator for embedding video clips into webpages, making it easier for web developers to present video clips that works on any system without forcing users to install a plugin.
Flash just works because most web users have the required plugin already installed; Adobe has bundling agreements with both Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS X. Users who don’t have Flash pre-installed can download it for free, and Adobe now even offers a Linux version of the plugin.
Flash on the iPhone
Less technically inclined pundits have expected Apple to release a Flash plugin for the iPhone that works identically to the plugin used on desktop computers, similar to how the iPhone supports viewing PDF documents or Microsoft Word and Excel files. The problem is that the Flash runtime has never been designed to work on anything outside of a desktop computer, which has almost unlimited access to processing power and few constraints on battery use, available RAM, or heat dissipation…”