How important is the iPhone to Adobe? Enough that they’ll write a brand new version of their Flash animation/video player — even after Steve Jobs dissed it — just to get on Apple’s phone.
During Adobe’s (ADBE) Q1 earnings call last night, new CEO Shantanu Narayen said Adobe has taken a look at the iPhone software developers kit, released in beta earlier this month — and thinks they can cook up a Flash player for the phone. “We want to work with Apple to bring that capability to the device,” he said.
Which means they could have to make some major changes to their software. (Or maybe not: A commenter who’s worked with Adobe porting Flash to other phone platforms says there might not be much technical heavy lifting involved.) Earlier this month, Apple boss Steve Jobs said Flash Lite — Adobe’s mobile edition of Flash — isn’t good enough for the iPhone. And he said the version of Flash that works on Mac computer is too slow on his phone. “There’s this missing product in the middle,” Jobs said.
Why would Adobe go out of its way to make an edition of Flash for the iPhone — a phone that even Apple (AAPL) hopes will get just 1% of the mobile market this year? There’s the near-term benefit: Almost 85% of iPhone owners browse the Web on their phones, versus 13% of overall U.S. mobile subscribers. And the longer view: More than any other phone, it’s driving how developers and designers make software and Web sites for the mobile Web. And right now, they’re not using a drop of Flash.
Our question: If Adobe goes out of its way to cater to Steve Jobs’ needs, will he let them build a Flash plug-in directly into the iPhone’s Safari browser? That would allow Flash content like Hulu videos, animations, etc., to show up seamlessly in Web pages — like it does on a Mac. Or will he force Flash videos, etc. to open up in a separate application — less compelling, but smoother sailing?
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