iSwifter's Flash workaround app coming to the Mac
iSwifter, the company that released a piece of software for the iPad last year that lets iOS users view and interact with Adobe Flash content, soon plans to bring its service to Mac OS users.
The company told CNET this evening that it's at work on a Mac app it plans to sell through Apple's Mac App Store in the next few months that will let users play Flash videos, games, and other interactive content without installing Adobe's Flash plug-in. Instead, everything Flash will be processed on the company's servers, then piped through the app, which iSwifter is positioning as a Web browser alternative.
Why now, you might be asking? Since last October, Apple's been shipping its computers without Adobe's Flash installed, and in the move to Lion--Apple's new OS, which shipped last week--Adobe's Flash Player had some incompatibilities (which Adobe has pledged to fix).
"We believe that although Adobe claims that it is compatible and you can download the player, etc., the fact that Apple is not bundling it with Safari is a message," said Rajat Gupta, founder of iSwifter. "Apple has taken its mobile philosophy, and though not as stringent as on iPad and iPad, and brought it to the desktop."
Gupta believes that while Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has been part of the driving force against bringing Adobe's Flash onto iOS, would never outright bar Flash from Mac computers, by simply decoupling it out of the box, the company is keeping people from using it in the first place.
"There's no way [Flash] will get the same penetration on PCs where it was 90 to 95 percent market share, because when you do not bundle and people have to install it, you're going to get some drop off of users," Gupta said.
The answer then, is an iSwifter app, which Gupta described as "one common experience for Flash applications across the iPhone, iPad and Lion."
"The beauty is that if you want to play Facebook games, MMOs, or any Web site you have the same experience across the entire Apple computing line," Gupta said. "We want to release the same experience in all three cases: it runs where it cannot."
When asked why desktop users wouldn't just download Adobe's free Flash Player versus using a standalone application that lives outside the Web browser and that could potentially cost money, Gupta said a large portion of users is just not savvy enough to understand. "They get Lion, or they upgrade and they go to a Web site that they're used to getting. Instead there will be some message about a missing plug-in. They don't know if it's legitimate, or a virus, or what," he said.
So far there's not a mock-up of how the app will look, or how much it will cost. The company offers up its iPad app as a free trial, with users being able to spend $4.99 via a one-time in-app purchase to use the service without limits. Gupta said that if the company charges for the app, there would be a similar free trial offer.
iSwifter currently has more than half a million active users. Earlier this month, the company said that 40 percent of all gaming time on the service is spent playing Zynga's games, with users logging nearly 2 million minutes of gaming on Facebook in the past three months.