In a post on Apple's website today, Steve Jobs details the reasons behind Apple's refusal to allow Flash onto the iPhone OS:
- Flash isn't open, as Adobe says, but proprietary
- The prevalence of h.264 video means Flash isn't required for web video anymore
- Flash is insecure, unstable, and doesn't perform well on mobile devices
- Flash drains too much battery life
- Flash is designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse, not the iPhone OS' touch interface
- Creating apps in Flash means that developers aren't creating native iPhone apps.
I'm not really in a position to evaluate most of those claims, but the one that I have encountered is that Flash is designed for a mouse, not a finger. If you've got an iPhone or iPad and have browsed websites that use drop-down menus for navigation, you've probably seen it too. You tap a nav item to get the menu, but the site interprets that tap as a selection of that item, rather than triggering the menu, which takes you to the wrong page and makes it hard to get to the right one. That's frustrating.
Business-wise, Adobe's in an interesting position. For the last decade or so, it's basically dominated web audio and video, and had a big stake in web design and development, thanks to Flash. With the growing influence and marketshare of the iPhone OS, Apple is threatening that position. Adobe is cozying up with Google to get Flash to Android, which should help, but may not be enough.
Adobe does have one option, though. Its Creative Suite - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc. - contains the premiere apps in their spaces, crucial apps for many, many Mac owners. If Adobe withdrew Creative Suite from the Mac, or created a feature disparity between Mac and Windows versions, it could certainly hurt Apple. That would be a pretty desperate and unlikely move - as Jobs notes in his letter, Creative Suite for Mac accounts for 50% of the sales of the software - but companies do strange things when they get desperate.