Apple’s Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash – and my response

Thursday, April 29th, 2010 | Business | by

Steve Jobs posted a response to the whole Flash on iPad / iPhone / iPod issue, an excerpt:

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

Some highlights:

  • The decision to not include flash was a technology issue, not business.
  • “Open” – Flash isn’t open, it is proprietary
  • Apple pushes open standards
  • “Full Web” – Apple fully supports YouTube, which is 40% of video on the web
  • H.264 works on many sites already Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, etc.
  • Steve totes the games on the iPhone as a replacement for “flash games”
  • “Reliability Security and Performance” – Flash has not performed well on mobile devices
  • “Battery Life” – Non H.264 video, which is what Flash would have to be, cuts battery time in half
  • “Touch” – Flash was designed for mice, not touch.  Rollovers (heavily used in Flash) wouldn’t function
  • “Third Party Layers” ruin the maximum performance achieved and the optimal experience of a true iPad / iPhone application
  • Apple doesn’t want developers to rely upon Adobe to implement new features to use them

Over all there are some good points — but some very weak ones.

My Response – You have ‘Fart Sounds’ as an App, get over yourself.

Isn’t Open Source all about letting the “cloud” decide what it wants?  Isn’t the most closed source platform of everything, the App Store itself?

I can’t accept the issue of mouseovers/hover being a serious issue, but that’s not complicated to solve.  If someone doesn’t click, they can drag their fingers over screen items.  That one is a cop out.

Battery life?  Why not let end users make that decision.  I gotta say, after having any of my iPhones for about a year, battery life of full use is down to about 5 hours anyway — and I can’t even replace it!

Worrying about Adobe implementing their “amazing tools” is crap too.  The App store houses dozens of horrible apps, look at Fart Sounds.  Truly a reason to worry that developers “are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements”.  How many of those innovations and enhancements come into play when playing fart sounds?

I love the iPhone platform, maybe I just can’t see the reasons Steve Jobs has, but most of these don’t count.  He’s holding something closer to his chest.

I love HTML5’s capabilities too — but let the end users make the choice, don’t be a digital dictator.

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7 Comments to Apple’s Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash – and my response

Apple is slowly becoming what Microsoft is, a dictatorship.

April 29, 2010

It is. I have faith still — maybe unfounded.

April 29, 2010

I run a company in the online learning space (my company’s products are used in colleges and high schools). Schools and colleges around the US will not all stand up at once and require iPads and iPhones for every student, while computer access is a given. So releasing an education product dependent on the iPad/iPhone for delivery is a non-starter for an education company. Using the Web/browser combination is the only option.

Almost every learning company delivers a lot of content as interactive animations, with Flash (and perhaps Silverlight) as the only option for delivery. Apple/Jobs has no answer for this type of educational media. Being an Apple fan (got started in HyperCard), if they did, I would seriously consider adopting their development tools and browser-based media delivery software. Apple treats Flash as if it is all about video: but in education it isn’t, not even close.

Apple’s/Jobs’ answer to games (and he means interactive animations too here) is to write a separate iPad app to handle this interactivity. But we are back to the issue described in the first paragraph above. There simply is no good developer tool/software for creating rich interactive media in HTML5. I have seen the HTML5 animation examples on the Web: they are poor, limited in interactiviey, and likely took the developer 50X longer to do than one of my Flash developers could do in Flash.

I hope that there are many things afoot that will quickly change the landscape for Adobe on mobile devices. Hopefully things will change when Amazon (Kindle), HP, Dell etc. all have competing products that do run Flash. If these devices fail to provide a good experience for users running Flash, or Adobe fails to provide a workable solution for those devices, then Job’s stance will be proven sound. However, Apple can easily take this position while they have little competition for this unique and revolutionary device.

Furthermore, processors keep getting faster, and batteries better. The performance issue will become less of an issue as new devices come out.

April 29, 2010

That is so true. Thanks jwc!

I’ve done so many educational Flash interfaces, and they would be great to have on an iPad, but without Flash its a no go.

I can’t believe he doesn’t see this. If it sucks so much, give us a toggle button to disable, get some real data on usage.

I just don’t see how Apple can fight this alone, and hope to win it. All I see is either: A) Apple develops it’s own Flash IDE for HTML5 animations OR B) Down the road, Flash is on the iPhone.

Unless Apple can wait it out 5 years, and with other devices approaching the iPhone’s capabilities, I don’t think they can.

Aldo Cardenas
April 30, 2010

This is a sneak preview of the next update on Apple’s site whit a special section for Adobe Flash, The funny side of the history

[…] the table running Flash prove any of Steve Jobs’ ‘Thoughts on Flash’ […]

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