Adobe Backs Away From Promise to Bring Flash Player to iPhone

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Adobe systems appears to have backed away from a promise to develop a Flash-based media player for the Apple iPhone.

Earlier this week, Adobe Chief Executive Shantanu Narayen said his company would attempt to build a Flash player that would work on the iPhone.

"We believe Flash is synonymous with the Internet experience, and we are committed to bringing Flash to the iPhone," he said.

Narayen made this comment in the wake of an earlier admonition from Apple CEO Steve Jobs that the software wasn't ready to work on the iPhone platform yet.

What Jobs termed "proper" Flash "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone, he said. "There's this missing product in the middle. It just doesn't exist."

But yesterday Adobe issued a follow-up statement that stressed the importance of Apple's involvement with any Flash player Adobe might build for the iPhone.

"[T]o bring the full capabilities of Flash to the iPhone web-browsing experience, we do need to work with Apple beyond and above what is available through the SDK and the current license around it," the company said. "We think Flash availability on the iPhone benefits Apple and Adobe's millions of joint customers, so we want to work with Apple to bring these capabilities to the device."

The statement sparked concern on the web that Adobe would renege on its promise. Online guru Brandon Shalton told XBIZ that such backtracking is unusual for a large company.

"Maybe Apple wanted maybe money from them," said Shalton, who founded the traffic analysis service "Who knows what the deal structure was that they were considering?"

The lack of a Flash-based player for iPhone-based applications means that adult websites, affiliate companies and content providers wouldn't be able to use the versatile platform to stream videos.

Matrix Content President Stephen Bugbee told XBIZ that even though his company has converted its entire library of content to Flash, he harbored doubts about the appeal of adult content on the device.

"The iPhone is great, but you really can't base a large business model on just being able to stream to an iPhone," Bugbee said. "Although it is nice if you can't do anything else."


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