At Apple's shareholder meeting this week, CEO Steve Jobs took a bat to Adobe's Flash -- leading to speculation the door is open for Microsoft's Silverlight on the iPhone.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs, seen here at Macworld, fielded a wide range of questions from shareholders Tuesday.
Jobs said that the full-blown PC version of Flash "performs too slow to be useful" on the iPhone and the mobile version, Flash Lite, "is not capable of being used with the Web".
Adobe returned fire: "Flash and Flash Lite are a huge success. All major handset manufacturers worldwide licence Flash today delivering a broad range of mobile devices ranging from feature phones to smartphones and consumer electronic devices. With more than 450 million Flash-enabled mobile devices shipped worldwide and 150 percent year-over-year growth we are on track to see one billion Flash enabled devices by 2010. Consumers demand a rich Web experience on any device and platform and Flash delivers just that," the company said.
Meanwhile, Silverlight has been receiving some attention this week with Microsoft's announcement that it will be writing a version of Silverlight for Nokia's S60 smartphone platform, which runs on the Symbian OS.
Microsoft chose to work with Nokia because it has the largest market share of mobile phones, but it will sign on with other handset makers to create ports of Silverlight, John Case, a general manager in Microsoft's developer division said this week.
At the Mix '08 show in Las Vegas, Microsoft corporate VP .NET Developer Platform, Scott Guthrie, alluded to support for Apple's iPhone, saying Microsoft wants Silverlight running on "anything that has an SDK [software development kit]". The iPhone SDK is set to be revealed tomorrow.
IBRS analyst Joseph Sweeney thinks that Microsoft's Silverlight is not in the same space as Flash. "It's not Flash. It's a mobile application framework," he said.
He does, however, think that it has a future in the mobile market. "I believe it has got good potential for being an application framework on top of an operating system framework for mobile devices," he said.
Adobe will be fine without Apple's approval, according to ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan, because it has developers on its side and a presence on such a large number of handsets. The number of Apple iPhones in 2008 will reach 10 million, Dignan said -- a tiny number compared to Adobe's 450 million Flash-enabled handsets.
Tom Krazit, Martin LaMonica and Ina Fried from CNET News.com contributed to this article.