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iPhone Users Want Flash?

November 4, 2010 13:40:32.887

Skyfire was providing an iPhone browser that promised Flash access yesterday:

Skyfire for iPhone promises to transcode Web-based Flash video on the fly to an iPhone-friendly format.

I suspect that the demand made Steve Jobs a bit unhappy:

Skyfire Labs was caught off guard by the demand for its services, and the company was forced to stop selling the Skyfire browser on iTunes just hours after the app debuted.

While I'm no fan of Flash, here's the thing - the iPad is a great device for watching streaming video, and all of the major TV sites - the network sites and Hulu being the ones I'm thinking of - use Flash. I'm somewhat surprised that the app got approved in the first place :)

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posted by James Robertson


Re: iPhone Users Want Flash?

[Jay O'Conor] November 4, 2010 16:09:56.407

Users want a simple, seamless, video experience on all their devices. Flash is not it.

I can't render judgement on Skyfire, as I haven't tried it myself. But their approach appears to be seriously flawed. While the app was still on the app store, the reviews were rather negative. I think this reflects the huge 'seam' that is apparent when access to Flash video has to go through Skyfire's servers.

Skyfire has serious limitations. It is not interactive, so Flash based games won't work. One of the most desirable Flash based websites, Hulu, won't work with Skyfire as it appears Hulu is actively blocking Skyfire (see [link 1]).

User demand for Flash is analogous to Henry Ford's famous quote: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse". Flash has multiple downsides none of which can be addressed as long as the Flash runtime is supplied by a single vendor.

I understand user frustration when not being able to access existing Flash based websites, but perpetuating Flash either natively or though hacks like Skyfire is not the answer. We have an embarrassment of riches in HTML5 engines. Fierce competition in this area is advancing the open web's capability to take on tasks that have traditionally used Flash, and do it in a way that is scalable across a wide range of CPU and battery performance.

You mention how great the iPad is for watching streaming video. I agree. The lack of Flash has not been a big impediment there. Hulu has their Hulu Plus iPad app. Netflix has an app, ABC has an app, PBS has an app. All great ways of watching streaming video.

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