Perspective: A Flash Reality Check

When the iPhone was launched it was heavily criticized for not including the ability to play Adobe’s Flash content, fast forward 3 years now and the iPhone is facing the same criticisms. Does it really matter if a mobile device can play flash, does it even really matter if a computer can play flash? I think you will be surprised to learn that, no for the most part it doesn’t matter, and in the coming months it will matter even less.

2007 the iPhone was launched, it was also the day that Flash started to fade into irrelevance. A bold statement, but am I wrong? Most major video streaming sites (exception to Hulu) now serve their Flash video to iPhones using different encoding methods (even some Porn sites do this now – so I hear), or with a custom app (ABC, YouTube). That leaves just a few types of websites that have not optimized for non-flash devices, mainly Clothing, Games and Restaurants.

I think we can all agree with the advent of UrbanSpoon we don’t need to frequent restaurant websites, and we can get by just fine without some clothing sites on our non-flash devices. That just leaves one major type of element that you cannot view on these non-flash devices: slideshows. Most photographers are still using Flash based slideshows, as they are the easiest for them to build.

So without flash here is what you truly cannot do:
- Watch Hulu (which you can’t do even with Flash on mobile devices)
- Shop at some clothing retailers
- View slideshows that are made in flash
- See any punch the monkey ads
- Play Flash Games

Are you beginning to see why I don’t see the importance of Flash?

If you are like many of my friends and are annoyingly using the excuse that you are waiting for Flash on the iPhone before you buy one do a little test on your computer. There are flash blocking plugins for most web browsers (or you can just disable Flash in the browser), get one and use it for a week. My guess is that other than YouTube you will never miss out on content, and remember you can view YouTube on the iPhone no problem.

As for the inability to play Flash based games, well the iPhone/iPad have far superior games that can leverage the touch interface. So why you would want to play Flash based games instead is beyond me.

Originally posted for members on: May 24, 2010
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