By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 10, 2010

Flash apps are already getting approved, but there’s still no Flash in the mobile browser

Confusion reigned for much of Thursday following Apple’s (AAPL) announcement that it was lifting its restrictions on development tools for iPhone apps.

Wall Street, assuming that this meant that Adobe (ADBE) has won its long-running Flash battle with Steve Jobs, drove the company’s stock price sharply higher. Adobe closed the day at $32.86, up $3.55 (12.11%).

Developers, meanwhile, were not so sure. Adobe’s Flash Player, currently in version, is a complex beast with a lot of moving parts. The folks who depend on Flash for their livelihoods waited most of the day for Adobe to tell them what Jobs’ change of heart meant for them.

The answer came at 5:03 p.m., nearly 9 hours after Apple’s announcement, in a blog post entitled “Great News for Developers.” But the text of the message, written by Adobe’s corporate communications department, made it clear that the news was only semi-great. The full text is here. The key points:

  • Apps written in Adobe’s Packager for iPhone, introduced last spring as part of Creative Suite 5, will no longer be automatically rejected for inclusion in the App Store
  • In fact, Packager apps were already being approved. (See, for example, Cooler Kreator.)
  • Work on the Flash-to-iPhone compiler, which Adobe suspended last April, will pick up where it left off
  • But Flash content on the Web — which is where most users come across it — still won’t show up on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
  • Adobe “will continue to work to bring full web browsing with Flash Player 10.1 as well as standalone applications on AIR to a broad range of devices,” the statement concludes, before rattling off a long list of partners with which it’s on better terms than Apple, including Google (GOOG), HTC, Microsoft (MSFT), Motorola (MOT), Nokia (NOK), Palm/HP (HPQ), RIM (RIMM) and Samsung.

So we have some clarity: yes for Flash apps in the App Store, no for Flash in the iPhone browser — at least for now.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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