More than half a year after its launch, Apple’s iPhone is set to get an app it should have had from the beginning: Adobe’s Flash plug-in. GearLive reports that Flash support is “just around the corner” and could be introduced later this month alongside Apple’s iPhone software developers kit.
Good news, if true. While the iPhone’s Safari Web browser is one of its best features, its lack of Flash support means many features simply don’t work. A plug-in for the iPhone means Flash files — games, site navigation, videos, and yes, even advertisements — should load the same on the iPhone as they do on a computer.
So what took so long? Not technology — Apple’s Mac OS X has supported Flash for years, and Adobe boasted yesterday that more than 450 million Flash-capable mobile phones have shipped since the company started making its mobile version.
The real delay: Business negotiations. While Adobe gives away its Flash plugin for free on computers, it’s tried to get mobile phone manufacturers and/or carriers to pay a licence fee for each phone its software is installed on.
That may have helped Adobe generate some extra revenue over the years — we’ve heard the company charges a licence fee as much as $1 per phone — but it has limited its market share. The free Flash plug-in is installed on some 99% of computers, but mobile research firm M:Metrics says just 14% of U.S. phones are Flash-capable.
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