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Why Apple doesn’t Allow Flash on iPhone and iPad? It’s the Money

by Scott Hoffman on April 13, 2010

Apple doesn’t allow Adobe’s Flash on it’s iPhone or iPad (See article in the Wall Street Journal) platforms. I believe that this is mainly because of money. It is my opinion, listen to this really simple explanation.

Flash is a very versatile tool. To illustrate it’s versatility, look at popular gaming site, OMGPOP which features games designed in Flash, for FREE.

By not allowing Flash, Apple can continue to sell Apps, and maintain the App Store’s place as an important revenue delivery system for Apple (they get 30% of the price of every App you buy.)  If Apple allowed Flash to work on the iPhone and/or iPad, a developer could develop a web application in Flash, specifically for either the iPad or iPhone, and then have it work through the browser. The entire App Store, and the associated revenue, would be undercut.

Just ask yourself this question: Why would you buy Paper Toss for $.99 when you can just browse to a site that has the same game for free?

My 2 cents, what do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Why Apple doesn’t Allow Flash on iPhone and iPad? It’s the Money”

  1. Peter Cheng

    Agree and commend Apple for this. Free is bad, very bad…as those of us in the web space has witnessed. War online consumers paying for stuff!

  2. Stephen Grant

    I think I understand your argument, but not sure I understand your example. If someone has a Flash version of a game, yes they could direct people to their site on a browser and cut Apple out of any revenue stream. But couldn't they also just build the same game in an iPhone app and give it away for free on the AppStore. Either way, Apple gets no revenue. Outlawing Flash doesn't force a company to charge for a game.

  3. scotthoffman

    Stephen – first thanks for the comment – and yes after I read your remarks I can see how my example could be confusing and maybe a bit misleading.

    You are correct, an App Developer can always reduce the price of their application down to $0 in the App store. So the big question is why don't they all? And why are people still buying the games? On the open web, Flash designed mini games almost 100% of the games are priced at FREE, but that is not the case in the App Store (or is it?)

    I do think it has to do with the scarcity of the games (and other apps) that's artificially created by Apple banning Flash on the devices.

  4. Wind_Freak

    Really? You really think a quality programmer only wants to program for free? I guess those programers that went from 67k a year to 67k a month because of the app store would have much rathered write it in flash and post on the web free then to get paid for their work….

    Also you obveously havent seen just how many free apps are in the app store. Many of which offer more full featured ones for a small cost. I suppose apple is forcing them to write a second version that costs money.

    The app store is exposure and distribution. Which in the business world is very important and valuable. I'm sure you already see the parallels between the app store and ebay right? You know offer a distribution channel for your wares and skim a little off the top. But unlike ebay, apple only makes money if you make money. But no apple is evil not ebay. Or Google and web advertisements, once again getting paid whether the content creater or not gets paid. But again apple is evil not google.

    Ok lets talk about scarcity of apps and games. You know you are talking about the apple app store with some 150k apps. Please find me 150k flash apps and games. Oh yeah and find it in one place with a distribution model that only takes a cut when I get paid.

    So is it about the money? hells yeah! But the lions share goes to the app writers who up until now havent been getting their fair share. Sure there is facebook with all the flash games. The bring even the heaftyist of pc's to their knees. How many rich developers are there from the facebook world? Sure you got farmville….and what else? Find me 150k apps in farmville that arent viruses or scams.

    Next why browse to website (which you must have access to)(with a runtime that will suck the energizer bunny dry) when I can pay 99 cents (less than a cup of coffee) one time to be able to play anytime anywhere devoid of high speed internet without the fear of having my battery run dry. Oh yeah and for all those removable battery cell phones…How many buy the second battery? How many actually every use more than one battery?

    So if I'm a developer and I have a chance to put my skills to work and create a killer game am I going to put my time in writing something that must be only accessed when the person has access to the web and oh yeah has to find it! Or am I going to write something that doesnt require a quad core processor to show 72 square plots of land with wheat growing on it and has a robust distribution system built in.

    I don't program so maybe I'm all wrong about programmers and they would rather spend countless hours writing code to give it all away free. But I sure and greatefull for the few greedy developers making quality code that runs on my devices for hours on in that I am more than happy to buy a 1/2 a cup of coffee for to say “hey thanks for making this paper toss game that is so fun”

  5. scotthoffman

    Hey there Wind_Freak. Thanks for participating in the conversation…I am learning quite a bit.

    I think that you are correct that every developer wants to get paid – but when they develop on the web that allows Flash, that payment most likely comes from Banner ads, when they develop for the iPhone or iPad without Flash they can get money from the App purchase or they can get money from the mobile ad marketplace – like AdMob or iAd (formally Quattro)

    The question is how does Apple get paid? By creating a distribution system (AppStore), that includes a one click payment method, that is hard to circumvent (Flash not allowed on Devices) allows Apple to collect 30% of every app sold. If it was easy for developers to go around the Apple system – Apple would not be able to collect their 30%.

  6. Wind_Freak

    How do you circumvent eBay taking their cut? How about google. Don't
    forget with adwords you are taking a tiny fraction of what google is
    getting paid. How do you circumvent the monthly fee on a merchant
    accout. How do you circumvent the exorbant setup fees on a merchant
    account. How do you circumvent the 6% fee per transaction.

    There is soo much more to take into account when going at it alone or
    when adding more and more people in the middle of the transaction.
    With apple you got 1 person and their fee is 30% and that covers

    I really think you are massivly undervaluing the distribution system
    and the premade business model. All the developer has to do is write a
    good program and promote it. There are plenty of free and effective
    and easy ways to do that. But promoting it exists no matter what model
    you choose.

  7. Andrew Fox

    For all you bozos discussing the reason why Apple doesn't allow Flash I've only one thing to say “Guys get a life”. Leave this kind of discussion to pros please. You all sound immature and foolish. What is that you are trying to prove with your skirmish writeup and blog Scott Hoffman? How well do you know about community and social media? Isn't this a way to drive traffic to your site? Ah! I've heard your talks and they are plain simple ignorant in quality factor. Get a job, and play less of some sort of stupid learned geek. Be yourself.

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