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Adobe Pushes for a Flash-ier Mobile Web

The Web browsers on such smartphones as Apple's iPhone, devices running Google's Android software and the Palm Pre (all based on the same open-source code framework) do an outstanding job of presenting full-sized Web pages, with one exception -- displaying most Flash interactive content. You can watch YouTube video clips in separate applications, but that's about it.


This morning, Flash developer Adobe Systems Inc. announced plans to change that -- the upcoming 10.1 version of the Flash player will ship not just for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but also for such mobile-phone platforms as Android, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Palm's webOS, and Nokia's Symbian. This new release, unlike the Flash Lite software available on some phones today, shouldn't be limited to running special, simplified Flash animations.

San Jose-based Adobe has also set up an Open Screen Project initiative with phone software and hardware vendors, Flash developers and media companies "to enable the delivery of rich multiscreen experiences built on a consistent runtime environment for open web browsing and standalone applications."

Apple, however, is not joining Adobe in this effort. It's never supported Flash on the iPhone, objecting to the Flash player's processing and memory requirements, and it counsels Web developers looking to create iPhone-friendly sites to provide interactive features through existing, open Web standards instead of Flash.

Will the lack of Flash start to set back the iPhone? It hasn't so far, and I'm not sure that Flash 10.1 will change that. On the desktop, the Flash plug-in can gum up a browser faster than any other piece of Web content (especially, it seems, on a Mac), is frequently targeted by malware writers and can also be a pain to keep up to date. I don't need a mobile version if it will inherit those traits.

Flash has also enabled some of the Web's most annoying, if not outright abusive, content: the animated site introductions that fill your browser's screen and play an unwanted soundtrack when you only wanted to see a restaurant's menu or learn about the new apartment building going up down the street. (Note: Please don't click the last link with your computer's speakers turned up at work.)

Are you anxious to bring Flash to the mobile Web, even if it means being subjected to some over-eager Web coder's song-and-dance routine? Or would you rather do without it on the go, even if that means having to switch to a "real" computer to use some Web sites' features?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 5, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets , The Web  
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Here's hoping the linux plugin works better this time around. The last copy of the 64bit linux plugin I used (two weeks ago) made youtube look like I was watching a flipbook.

Posted by: hesaid | October 5, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I use a bunch of add-ons, like NoScript, Request Policy, Flash Block and a few others so I don’t have to “experience” flash on my desktops! I certainly don’t want to see it on my phone. I hate waiting for content to load while I am NOT being “entertained” by a web commercial. Most of it is simply too much crap.

And since it’s manufactured by Adobe, you know problems are bound to happen with flash. After the many issues with Reader, I have been trying to live Adobe free!

Posted by: ummhuh1 | October 5, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ummhuh1--Flash is pointless (except to advertisers) most of the time, so I block it. I'd rather have Flash than install Silverlight, but Adobe apps are generally invasive bloatware. IMHO, they need to redo their business model and make Flash (and Reader, even more) leaner, customizable apps people want to use.

Posted by: krazykat23 | October 5, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely do not want Flash. I use Flash-block plugins on all my web browsers for this very reason. The web is a much saner place without all that animated crap all over the place, and pages load much faster.

Some news sites are getting carried away about how great it will be to have mobile Flash. Let's see what people think when actually start using it.

Ever notice how long Adobe apps take to load? Bloated, processor-hogging stuff. I haven't installed Acrobat Reader in years. Life is good without it.

Posted by: jkh1970 | October 5, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Flash is like corporate saying "SHut up and listen to us, what you say or think doesn't matter because you don't have any money (Ram on a PC)left because we took it all.
You will do as we say ... then pay us all the money ... then go away and die.
I would say most sites today take so long to load because of all the flash add ... I always just hit the esc key once the text is loaded.
Ever wonder why Google loads so quickly?
No flash!

Posted by: kuemmet | October 6, 2009 1:52 AM | Report abuse

While I really hate the animated intros, too, I do think there is a place for Flash. For example: Educational companies have created many self-correcting exercise templates in Flash into which teachers and publishers can add their content. I would love to be able to do my homework on my iPhone. Sure, there are other options--programming from scratch using Java--but not everyone has a team of programmers at their disposal. I would like it to be an option so the user can choose whether or not to enable it.

Posted by: eduDC | October 6, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow. A lot of Flash-bashing here. Sounds a bit snobbish. I know that some developers can get carried away with Flash. When used smartly (and more developers these days are getting better about this) it is a great communication tool that can convey something that text and a static images cannot.

I'm sure Adobe should do better about the technical aspects of Flash (less memory hogging, better security, etc.), but as far as content goes, saying Flash serves no purpose and the web is better off without animation is a bit extreme. I can think of dozens of sites right now that are incredible and wouldn't be so without the use of Flash and it's QUICK streaming vector graphics that can be much smaller than using video.

If you are skipping all Flash content, you are missing out on a lot of great stuff on the web. The trade-off might be worth it to you, but then again, you don't know what all you are missing.

Posted by: Sullyville | October 6, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Lack of Flash support is probably the thing that disappoints me more often than anything else when using my iPhone (which is saying a lot with AT&T service).

Posted by: Sullyville | October 6, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about Flash? No Flash support just means no annoying Flash ads. look at 20 web pages and the only place you'll see Flash is in the ads on the page.

Flash has been dying out for years and it needs to imo.

Posted by: macross2 | October 6, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

With Adobe's recent track record for writing software that is riddled with security vulnerabilities, I say keep it away!

Posted by: Annorax | October 6, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

FOr the most part, I don't miss flash at all. It is way overlooked and is nothing more than a resource hog. I block 100% on web sites and require that I allow by exception.

Posted by: mdembski1 | October 6, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@ Sullyville

While there are, of course, some good things about web animation, it will be much better if they come from open standards in HTML 5 than through proprietary plug-ins. Just do a web search on HTML 5 animation to see some really impressive stuff.

Yeah, I know Internet Explorer won't support these standards, but that just adds helps prove that the we needs to get past the proprietary interests of companies. If it can't support *standards*, IE needs to go out to pasture as well.

Getting rid of Flash is key to making the web a better place.

Posted by: jkh1970 | October 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Flash will bring plenty of good and bad to the platforms.

The good:
cool web based games, and applications...heck I'll be able to see the web...all of it. even if you turn off flash..there is plenty to see and do on the web that requires the flash player.

The bad:
Its been stated very well

Posted by: ronstrawbridge | October 6, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the Flash plugin or your mobile's web browser will have the option to disable Flash content if you'ld prefer.

With Adobe making a huge effort in providing solutions to issues addressed in mobile browsing, there's high confidence that Flash will be smooth, rich, and wonderful even under a mobile environment.

Everybody knows that having a Flash-capable smartphone is so much better than one that doesn't; the more functionality, the better. And I bet the majority of sour comments here come from the iPhone community that will NOT benefit from having a Flash-capable smartphone.

I don't blame iPhone fans for being sore; they're gonna be missing out on a lot of super cool Flash animated web designs, videos, audio, webcam, etc.. content while they fumble around with band-aid solutions that has not proven itself to run as solid and reliable as Flash for many years.

Posted by: washinfo | October 6, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Methinks washinfo=adobe PR dept.

Posted by: jkh1970 | October 6, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I too think there is a place for Flash Tech. Yes it seriously needs rethinking, but it has affected all of us (good or bad), and we are apparently going to be hearing about 'new' developments for some time to come. Let's just hope 'they' listen.

I actually laughed outloud, thanks!

Whether people like it or not, the iPhone is IMO a fantastic device that many are scrambling to duplicate (hello blackberry, palm, etc.... ). I think Apple has good cause to ignore Flash until Adobe cleans up it's act.

Posted by: DefineX | October 9, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Flash is the internet equivalent of Rush Limbaugh: a big, fat idiot who assaults your senses with his offensive messages until you can change the station.

Three-layered defense against Flash: My customized HOSTS file blocks all known ad servers and keeps out 90% of the Flash crap that's thrown at me. The AdBlock Plus extension in Firefox gets most of the ones that are missed by the HOSTS file. Whatever left is blocked by the NoScript and FlashBlock extensions.

If you're stuck with Internet Explorer 6 at work, you can disable Flash by doing the following:

1. Click on the "Internet Options" in the Tools menu.

2. Click on the Programs tab.

3. Click on the "Manage Add-Ons" button.

4. Locate the item for Shockwave Flash (the file name will look like flash.ocx or similar), select it, and then click on the Disable switch at the bottom of the window.

5. You will need to close out of I.E. and restart the browser for the changes to take effect.

6. Note: sometimes, the folks in your corporate training department may use Flash for their presentations. You may need to re-enable Flash to do their required training.

Posted by: taskforceken | October 10, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

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