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Flash Won’t Hit the iPhone Anytime Soon

Even before the first version of Apple’s iPhone hit the streets, pundits and critics were lamenting the lack of support for Adobe Flash on the device, saying that lack of Flash support would lock iPhone users out of a wide variety of Internet content. Although individual applications have enabled access to Flash-powered services like YouTube, others remain inaccessible, like the NBC-Fox video streaming service Hulu, a vast number of widgets and applets, and—of course—a number of online games.

However, as the iPhone closes in on its second year of availability, there’s still no version of Flash for the device—and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen dashed users’ hopes the technology might appear any time soon. “It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen told Bloomberg Television. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.”

Almost a year ago, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was somewhat dismissive of the prospects of bringing Flash to the iPhone, citing the full version of Flash as too cumbersome for the device, and Flash Life—Adobe’s stripped-down version of the technology—as too weak. A few weeks later Narayen indicated Flash development for the iPhone was indeed underway, but no announcements have been made.

In contrast, Adobe is actively bringing Flash technology to both Windows Mobile and Google’s Android mobile platform. Those platforms can also run Sun’s Java virtual machines, which may give them a leg up on the iPhone in some enterprise circles, and among a handful of consumers who depend on Java-enabled applications and technologies.

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