Is Apple (AAPL) helping Adobe (ADBE) get its Flash animation and video plugin on the iPhone? That’s what it sounds like, based on Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s comments in Davos.
“It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.
But what does “collaborating” mean? Hard to tell based on Bloomberg’s Web report.
It could mean that Apple is giving Adobe access to the iPhone that other companies don’t get via the iPhone App Store. (This would be necessary if Flash were to work as a Safari plugin, the way it does on the Mac.)
Or, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, “Another way to read it is that ‘collaborating’, without any details of what that collaboration entails, is just an empty word that could mean anything.”
We won’t really know until there’s either a Flash app for the iPhone or more definitive comments from either company.
Why might Apple help Adobe put Flash on the iPhone? It’d certainly be more useful. We’d enjoy watching Flash video on sites like Hulu, assuming Adobe could make an iPhone Flash player good enough to play back video. And some competing phones — including Palm’s (PALM) forthcoming Pre, according to a report — support Flash.
Why not help Adobe? We can’t imagine many people have skipped out on buying the iPhone specifically because it doesn’t support Flash. And giving special treatment to Adobe — if Apple’s actually doing this — could tick off some of its other partners.