Adobe’s (ADBE) long-running quest to get its Flash animation and video software on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone might finally be getting somewhere: Apple has made the surprising move to allow Web browser apps into the iPhone App Store.
This means Adobe could potentially finally get Flash onto the iPhone, which means Flash-powered sites like Hulu and Iminlikewithyou might not be off-limits to iPhone users. It won’t necessarily be easy:
- Adobe will still have to shoehorn the Flash plugin into a browser shell of some sort — we’re not sure if it could use the MobileSafari browser guts included in the iPhone software developers kit. If not, this could get complicated, as it seems Apple is only approving browsers based on MobileSafari.
- And Adobe’s engineers will have to figure out how to make Flash run fast and efficient enough on the phone to be useful. It’s no help if Web video plays at 5 frames per second.
- Adobe will have to convince people to use a different browser than MobileSafari. We suppose people wouldn’t need to use it as their main browser. But ideally, Adobe would have to figure out a way to easily get the site you’re looking at in MobileSafari — where there’s no Flash support — to boot up in the Flash browser. (This works with other apps like Google Maps — so anything’s possible — but we’re not sure if Adobe would need Apple’s help here.)
So while technical challenges remain, one hurdle — whether Apple would approve any app marketed as a browser — seems to have been lifted. (Update: As commenters on another post note, it seems Apple could still ban Flash from the App Store based on the fact that it’s a code interpreter, however.)
Meanwhile, we imagine some of Adobe’s competitors — like Microsoft’s (MSFT) Silverlight division, or Divx (DIVX) — are also salivating at the idea.
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