Flash vs Usefulness

Not that I really need to pitch into this bloodbath of a conversation, but I just wanted to share a thought on the iPhone and Flash:

No matter how well optimized Flash could ever possibly be on the iPhone, it would always offer a substandard experience with the slightly possible exception of video playback. And while Flash playback is important, it is also obviously becoming less so with HTML5 video players quickly picking up the slack.

The big problem comes with all the other things users expect and experience from Flash on the Desktop. You’ve got games, you’ve got banner ads, you’ve got entire sites designed in flash (when they really should be HTML). These Flash movies are almost always designed for a specific desktop size or higher, be it 800×600 or 1024×768. Many of them allow you to right click. They all ultimately expect you to be interfacing with a mouse and keyboard easily at the ready. At best you’re going to get a mix-and-max of sub-standard to downright awful browsing experiences. One could even argue that Apple got full web browsing so right on Mobile Safari by ignoring Flash completely.

At best a Flash designer could possibly create two versions of the Flash interface: one Desktop, one “mobile.” And then of course you’d be designing for every potential Flash enabled phone out there, regardless of speed, screen size, or interface.

Whether you chose to write your Flash for the desktop or you chose to “optimize” for mobile, if you targeted both at any point you are now providing a lowest-common-denominator, feature incomplete interface that will likely not look or interact as well as versions specifically designed for Desktop or mobile. So let Flash be Flash, a time wasting game interface and the bane of mobile users searching for restaurant menus everywhere. The iPhone doesn’t need it, and if it had it it would be worse for it.

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