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Flash video comes to iPhone, iPad (kinda)

Steve Jobs workaround

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Beginning this Thursday, owners of iOS devices — iPhone, iPad, iPod touch — will be able to view Flash video on the devices from which Apple CEO Steve Jobs has so vociferously banned Adobe's much maligned media-enabling software.

No, Jobs did not have a change of heart. And yes, there's a catch — a number of catches, to be exact.

Flash on iOS will be enabled through a Safari add-on called SkyFire from the eponymous Mountain View, California, developer of browsers for Android, iPhone, Nokia/Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

SkyFire doesn't in any way "put Flash on your iPhone" — instead, it downloads to its own server Flash-enabled video content that you select in your Safari browser, rewraps that video content in HTML5, and scoots it back to your iOS device, where you can then view it.

SkyFire's goal, company CEO Jeffrey Glueck told CNNMoney, is to "attack those pesky blue Flash error messages."

Not all Flash content will be SkyFireable, though — it's aimed a video. Flash games? Nope.

Neither will Hulu content be available for viewing using SkyFire — that online video trove has blocked SkyFire access. Hulu's reason is simple: it charges $10 per month for Hulu Plus, a service that includes mobile access to the Hulu library, and it would prefer to keep charging that sawbuck, thankyouverymuch.

"That's their business model, and we respect that," Glueck says.

Exactly how much Flash video SkyFire will open up for iOS device users is, to be frank, both unknown and unknowable. Last week, as The Reg reported, MeFeedia released survey figures that indicated that over 50 per cent of video on the web is now available in HTML5. Of course, much web video is available in both Flash and HTML5 formats, so how many — or even what percentage — of videos that will be newly available is unknown.

Glueck, for his part, estimates that "millions" of videos previously unavailable to iOS users due to Jobs' Flashturbatory machinations will now be viewable with the $2.99 SkyFire app. For more from Glueck, check out his interview with CNNMoney writer Michael Copeland:

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