Why Apple is right about Flash on smartphones

May 25, 2010 9:22 AM EDT

Apple's lack of support for Adobe Flash has generated thousands of column inches online and in print.

There's been harsh words between Adobe's founders and Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. We've seen huge ads appear in key publications as Adobe spends cold hard cash to counter Apple's criticism of its fading multimedia star, Flash.

Apple, says Adobe, is "anti-freedom".

Really?

For all this expensive posturing the one thing we still don't have is a version of Flash for smartphones that doesn't leech performance and battery life.

Hover over to PocketNow, which looks at Adobe's recently-launched Flash 10.1 for Android. And points out, "Adobe's launch of Flash 10.1 for Android is almost single-handedly responsible for slowing down the experience of the browser and the Android phone."

You want evidence?

This video says it is true. It shows that when Flash is installed on a Nexus One the device becomes slower to load content than both an iPhone and an HTC HD2.

Android 2.2 (Froyo) is a great upgrade, it runs much faster on the device, but stick the Flash plug-in on there and it slows down, and eventually succumbs to a memory error.

Now. To be fair, this is a beta. Adobe has been industriously developing a beta for modern smartphones ever since it realised that the future of the category wasn't in low-powered feature phones, but in powerfully-featured smartphones.

Unfortunately, if Steve Jobs is to be believed, Adobe didn't quite realise how things had changed until it was too late.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs specifically referred to the performance and stability of Flash as two of the most important issues Adobe should address in order to get its technology onto iPhone OS-powered devices.

Adobe's failure to address these issues -- even after an extended period of Apple requesting the company take action -- is cited as Apple's key reason to abandon Flash in favour of other video containers, such as HTML5.

The second video shows the performance of Android 2.2 (Froyo) and its Web browser once again, this time with Flash switched off.

Pretty fast? Sure.

Apple's expected to introduce iPhone OS 4.0 in the coming weeks, most likely on or around WWDC 2010 on June 7 . We'll be interested how much faster Apple's own Safari browser may become in that release. The battle is a big one, with Apple set to ship 24 million iPhones across the coming year.