No Opera or Flash player for the iPhone
For the foreseeable future, Apple's Safari Mobile web browser tool will continue to be the only one of its kind available for the iPhone. In summer, representatives of the Mozilla Project decided against producing a version of Firefox for the iPhone because of differences of opinion over licensing conditions, and now Opera, the Norwegian browser maker, has also abandoned all interest.
In conversation with the New York Times, Jon von Tetzchner, the Opera Software CEO, said his company had begun porting a version of the Opera Mini browser for the iPhone, but then abandoned the project because Apple would not accept products that competed with its own software. Apple did indeed refuse to accept an email client for Google Mail and podcasting software, among other things, into its App Store, saying they duplicated existing functions.
Mozilla's CEO, John Lilly, said in July that Apple was making things too difficult for third-party browser makers. Apple cited technical issues, saying it didn't want outsiders to disrupt the user experience. "That's a business argument masquerading as a technological argument", said Lilly to Wired magazine. Von Tetzchner has a similar view of the problem. "We stopped the work [on Opera Mini] because of the prohibitive license."
Opera produces two distinct browsers for smartphones: the commercial Opera Mobile and Opera Mini, which is free. Opera Mobile is a conventional full-function browser that runs as a native application on the phone's operating system and requests and renders web pages on the device itself. Opera Mini is substantially different, being written in Java and loading simplified, faster-loading pages in a proprietary binary format from special proxy servers run by Opera Software. John Gruber of the Daring Fireball blog had speculated that as a Java application, Opera Mini could not run on the Java-less iPhone. Even if the company implemented their own Java interpreter in order to run it, Apple's licence terms forbid such software.
However, von Tetzchner confirmed that his engineers had produced a version of Opera Mini specially adapted for the iPhone, he said, and did not require a Java runtime environment as it did on other platforms.
Along with a choice of browsers, many iPhone users would also like to be able to use Flash applets, but here too there's not likely to be much happening soon. Although Adobe has reportedly got a working version of Flash running in the laboratory, it cannot officially publish it without Apple's consent – the licence conditions for the iPhone development environment specifically prohibit programs that execute or interpret third-party code. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that he fears that Flash runs too slowly on its otherwise fully web-capable device.
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