Inevitably there was disappointment this week over the release of details of the iPad. This is standard procedure for Apple launch announcements – frenzied speculation, incredible disappointment, good sales. Don't buy it though, never buy the first generation of any Apple product. You pay the Mac tax plus the early adopter tax for a substandard product.
That's another story though, what I meant to write about is the discussion around why Adobe Flash is still not on the Apple mobile products, when clearly it could be. On the face of it, it's a no-brainer, you can't watch YouTube, or iPlayer, or the news on any of the main sites or any of the other millions of things you do on the internet all the time on your desktop.
Flash would rip the heart out of the apps marketplace. Apple makes a fortune by completely controlling the experience you get on your iPhone. The apps are actually tiny up-sells each time you want access to additional functionality.
If you could run a flash app on a web-page, full screen and have it work on any phone with flash on it there would be no further reason to ever download an app again. Given the Apple have made untold millions on the 3 billion or so apps that have been downloaded, they have a substantial disincentive to let Flash run on their devices. The other manufacturers are probably following the same logic.
True enough, the latest release of Abobe Creative Suite has an app development toolkit, so you can output flash applications as mobile apps, but much of the web is enabled by flash players.
If I were Nokia or Sony Ericsson right now, I would be pushing through Flash enabled phones as fast as my little workers could pack them into boxes. Free apps for everyone would be a sure-fire way of reducing the Apple appeal just a little.
If I were Apple, I would be trying to come to some sort of arrangement with Adobe to enable some sort of crippled version of their software to run on the phone. Something that would allow web users to say watch videos, but not to do complicated functionality.
It will be interesting to see it develop. Apple has a strong historical dislike for open systems, and has made up for it with a very compelling user experience and design aesthetic. Flash has been instrumental in the development of the internet over the past 10 years and its owner Adobe is going to strongly push for it to remain that way. A clash of civilizations is approaching.
Update: since writing this last night, Robert Scoble has written an interesting piece on whether Flash is doomed or not. Worth a read