Jobs illuminates Apple’s Flash objections

In recent weeks, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been taking a more active role in customer relations, mostly in the form of terse e-mail replies to inquiring users. But today he used the larger stage of the company website and almost 1,700 words to address the debate over Apple’s refusal to support Adobe Flash content on its mobile devices, once again insisting that it was an issue of technology, not competition (see “Adobe to Apple: Hey, we can take a hint“).

Jobs laid out a handful of objections, either to Flash or the way Adobe has portrayed it. Some excerpts:

* “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system. Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript — all open standards.”

* “Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. … iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.”

* “We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. … In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.”

* “To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. … Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.”

* “Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers.”

* “We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices. We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. … This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool.”

* “Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

You can be sure that the folks at Adobe, who have not been shy about arguing this out in public, are busy loading up a response with bullet points.

 
 

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  • kevin

    But will they use PowerPoint?

  • Sam

    Closed System? Similar to iTunes’ closed system? I can’t play my damn songs on anything else! And the battery is not changeable on my iPod! Please don’t talk about closed systems when Apple creates AND utilizes many closed systems itself!

    * “While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system. Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript — all open standards.”

  • Interesting that Jobs touts “open standards” like HTML5, but then talks a lot about H.264 which is NOT an open standard. And in fact, the debate rages about whether HTML5 video should be H.264 or Ogg Theora (an open source, open standard).

  • bryan forst

    i had to laugh when Job’s first objection was that Flash is not open. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…

  • Adam

    I’m glad he actually said something about Flash causing Macs to crash. My iMac couldn’t go a day without crashing because of the Flash plug-in, and I uninstalled/re-installed that thing over and over again

  • The absence of Flash segments of websites is very disheartening and frustrating! iPhone users may be drawn to Android or Mobile systems AND website developers that want their sites to be accessed by one of the single largest group of wireless users, might think twice about using Flash. Work it out!

  • okay, but i hope someone else makes it then, i really want my netflix, hulu, on it. so maybe microsoft should give the people what they want again. cause flash is the “killer app” just don’t forget the video out option its mandatory, (so i can hook it up to any tv where ever i may be)you’ll sell a zillion.

  • Raphael Bruckner

    Come on Steve can’t we all just work together?????

  • He can’t even put his statement out without being full of lies!

  • jrobino

    >> Flash causing Macs to crash

    Interesting – Flash doesn’t cause Windows to crash.

    For all the bad mouthing Windows gets from Apple users – you’d think that Apple’s OS was somehow more stable, more solid – more reliable.

    And they cry because Flash *causes* Macs to crash.

    Apple claims that Snow Leopard is the *world’s most advanced OS *
    – apparently not the most stable, though.

  • Steve seems to equate flash with video. I have a children’s education web site (www.kidport.com) with over 700,000 students a month using my Flash-based educational activities. Nothing I’ve seen in HTML5 provides the high level of interactivity I get in Flash. Sadly, Apple is trying to promote the iPad for education, but it refuses to allow Flash, the dominant development tool for interactive education. I agree that Flash has its problems, and can be quite unstable, but not supporting Flash makes the iPad a very limited web surfing tool. I’m far more frustrated by not being able to view a web page on my iPad than I ever was about crashes in Flash. For a company that always professes to put the user first, this seems very “not Apple” to me.

 
 
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