inessential by Brent Simmons

Speculation as to why iPhone doesn’t include Flash

We all know that the iPhone doesn’t include Flash. Various theories have been aired.

I have a theory that I haven’t heard yet: Flash wasn’t included because it crashes so much.

I have some evidence for this. My app—which uses WebKit and, thus, supports Flash—includes a crash reporter: when it crashes, you can send the crash log to me just by clicking a button. People do so, so I see the crashes.

And you know what I see a lot of? Stuff like this:

Thread 0 Crashed:
0 ...romedia.Flash Player.plugin 0x094e8ddc native_ShockwaveFlash_TCallFrame + 344728

Thread 0 Crashed:
0 ...romedia.Flash Player.plugin 0x19367572 MMgc::GCAlloc::ClearMarks() + 370

Since Apple collects crash logs too, they know how often Flash crashes.

Given that the first impression of the iPhone is so important, I can easily imagine a conversation like this:

A: “We have to include Flash so it’s not the watered-down web.”

B: “We can’t, since Flash crashes all the time, and people will think the iPhone is crashy.”

A: “But can we get away with not including Flash?”

B: “If we do a special YouTube app that uses QuickTime instead.”

A: “That’s officer thinking, lieutenant. Let’s call Google.”