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September 13, 2011

Adobe gets Flash video onto Apple iOS gadgets, but not the full monty

Flash-based video to run on Apple devices, but no full Flash Player yet

By Jason Stamper

Adobe has developed a multimedia viewer tool that plays Flash video on Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad. According to The Daily Mail, "the new tool is a ‘cheat’ that allows Flash video to play freely on Apple’s devices – without Apple signing it off." This is not quite the story that it appears to be.

Apple has so far blocked the ability to run the fully-fledged Flash Player on iPhones, iPods or iPads, limiting the ability to see Flash-based video, animation and other Flash-based interactivity on some websites.The latest announcement only covers the ability for iOS devices to play Flash-based video content streamed through Adobe Flash Media Server, which is not the same as support for all of the features of the Flash Player, such as full interactivity, applications and games.

Apple has said publicly that it will not permit Adobe’s Flash Player to run on its devices citing security concerns and inept technical features of the players.

Adobe Flash Media Server group chief Kevin Towie told The Daily Mail, "Websites have two challenges."

"To deliver video to desktop PCs, and to deliver to Apple devices. This [the new software] bridges that gap, and will give consumers access to more video content. We already offer Air for iOS, which allows developers to create apps with Flash video – and prices for Flash Media Server 4.5 start at $999, for a lower-end version with less content protection," Towie added.

Earlier, Adobe Enterprise head Rob Tarkoff had told CBR he believes, "Apple clearly has to catch up" with rival tablets and smartphones that are able to run Adobe’s Flash multimedia platform.

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In an open letter in April 2010, Apple chief Steve Jobs said the reason he wouldn’t let Flash into that ecosystem was down to the fact Flash is, in his view, proprietary Adobe technology, and Apple prefers to support open standards such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. "While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe," Jobs said.

In his letter in April 2010 Jobs made it clear he was unlikely to change his mind any time soon: "New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticising Apple for leaving the past behind."

One of the reasons that Apple is unlikely to allow the full version of Adobe’s Flash Player to run on iOS devices is precisely because of the interactivity and application potential that would give users – Apple would rather than most rich content is delivered via its Apple App Store.

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