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Adobe begins work on Flash player for iPhone

Adobe has started development of a Flash player suitable for use on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, company chief executive Shantanu Narayen said Tuesday.

Narayen made the revelation during a conference call with investors, explaining that Apple's recent release of an iPhone software developers kit (SDK) has afforded his company the necessary tools to finally begin work a version of its proprietary media player for the touch-screen handset.

"We believe Flash is synonymous with the Internet experience, and we are committed to bringing Flash to the iPhone," he said. "We have evaluated (the software developer tools) and we think we can develop an iPhone Flash player ourselves."

Narayen's comments are the latest in an ongoing saga between the two companies largely played out by the media. It all began last month following claims on the part of one gadget blog that Flash on the iPhone was finally imminent.

That surprised Adobe spokesman Ryan Stewart, who quickly noted in an official company blog post that: "No one aside from [Apple chief executive] Steve Jobs has any idea if or when it's coming. Everyone I talk to doesn’t know anything."

For his part, Jobs would later claim that technological limitations were to blame for the absence of the media player, which has grown in recent years to become a staple of the modern web experience, fueling everything from media-intensive advertisements to full-fledged websites.

The version of Flash player that runs on Macs and PCs is "too slow to be useful" on the iPhone, he said during the March 4th Apple shareholders meeting, while the mobile version known as Flash Lite is "not capable of being used with the Web."

"There's this missing product in the middle," Jobs added. "It just doesn't exist."

Narayen and his team now appear poised to alter that notion. They hope to deliver their missing product via Apple's new App Store, set to open in June alongside the release of iPhone software version 2.0.

Still, several unanswered questions remain, such as how the Flash player would function within websites given Apple's current iPhone developer guidelines which seem to require that all third-party software be released as standalone applications rather than as plug-ins.