Steve Jobs's Cogent Flash Takedown Needs a Response From Adobe

By  |  Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 8:16 am

Why won’t Apple allow Flash on the iPhone and iPad? If you want to read all the reasons all in one place, check out this post. It’s by a guy who knows what he’s talking about: Steve Jobs.

The reasons, as he states them:

  • Flash is closed, and Web technologies should be open
  • Most of the video people really want to watch is available in iPhone/iPad-compatible HTML5 anyhow
  • With 50,000 games for the iPhone and iPad, who cares if they won’t play Flash games?
  • Flash is too unreliable and insecure
  • Flash for mobile devices has been delayed too often
  • Flash kills battery life
  • Flash was never designed for touch interfaces
  • Flash is an additional layer that lets developers create cross-platform apps, but at the expense of building apps that truly leverage the platforms they run on

It’s easy to poke holes in certain parts of Jobs’ arguments–for instance, he says that “iPhone, iPod and iPod users aren’t missing much video,” which will be news to anyone who’s traveled around the Web on an Apple mobile device and found more giant empty blocks than video players. And lots of people–me included–would rather have the opportunity to choose for themselves whether to use Flash and Flash content on their mobile gadgets. (It’s possible to opt for a Flash-free PC or Mac; hardly anyone does.)

Overall, though, Jobs’s piece is pretty cogent. I came away from it feeling that Apple’s stance on Flash is controlling–but not nefarious. It’s the latest in a long list of instances of Apple getting to the future a little ahead of everyone else, in ways that are problematic at first but work out okay in the long run.

I hope that Adobe responds. The company has some good bloggers, including Mike Chambers and John Nack. Unfortunately, though, the most prominent Adobe employee who blogs about Flash is an evangelist named Lee Brimelow who seems to specialize in being kinda childish. His blog is called The Flash Blog, and has included a rant that ended “Go screw yourself, Apple” and  another post which seems to criticize the iPad for not supporting Flash-based porn. I get why an Adobe staffer–especially one charged with being passionate about Flash–might be irate about all this. But Brimelow isn’t the guy to take on Steve Jobs directly.

Brimelow says that The Flash Blog isn’t the official Adobe Flash blog. Given his position with the company and the blog’s title–and the fact there isn’t an official Flash blog as far as I can tell–I understand why people might be confused.

There’s a case to be made for Flash on Apple platforms, and Adobe ought to make it–calmly, coherently, and soon. Even if it’s a lost cause. Which it is…

 
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15 Comments For This Post

  1. Jared Earle Says:

    I think the anti-Flash kids would very much like a Brimelow retort because it would prove that they were on the side with more class and better taste.

  2. sfmitch Says:

    Until Flash (real flash) is shown to run well on devices that compete with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad then Apple is fine.

    It seems to me that a lot of people forget that NONE of the leading smartphones run Flash. It’s not like Apple is badmouthing Flash while there is evidence to the contrary.

    I really, really hope that Flash gets relegated to games where it works great. It will be a beautiful day when Flash isn’t used on most websites. Flash websites (other than games) are so annoying (imho). Until then Click-to-Flash is my favorite utility.

  3. joe c Says:

    “It’s possible to opt for a Flash-free PC or Mac; hardly anyone does.”

    And I can’t think of many of my friends who DON’T use ClickToFlash after I either turned them onto it or they already had it. Maybe the general public doesn’t, but I’ll say it’s because they’ve grown used to the slowdowns, freeze ups, and crashes, and don’t realize there’s a way to handle that.

  4. edwin Says:

    The premise here is that Steve is protecting us from the awful things that Adobe and their evil Flash will do to my computer, my family and everything else we cherish. Thanks Steve because we’re all way too stupid to ever figure that out for ourselves.

  5. Scott Says:

    Flash doesn’t even work well on the Adobe site! It’s quite horrific, actually. Aside from the fact that the Adobe site is poorly designed, the idea that the product it’s hawking does so using flash that flags, stutters, and clogs is appalling.

    Goodbye, Flash.

  6. pdq Says:

    “…hardly anyone does.”

    Ditto on the previous comments re: ClickToFlash. It’s transformed my browsing, and not for the worse.

    It’s frankly amazing to see how much useless Flash crap is loaded onto web pages these days. I’m glad to be rid of the vast majority of this…and the few things I want I can just click on.

  7. Brent Says:

    Is it me or did Microsoft try to set these controlling parameters with Windows already?

    If you ask me Apple is setting themselves up for an Anti-Trust lawsuit by allowing certain software on their devices but not others. I think Microsoft learned this the hard way and if you look at Windows 7 not even an e-mail client is included with the OS, you have the OPTION to install what you want, by whomever makes it.

    If Jobs wants to talk about Web Standards then by all means provide a complete iPad SDK and allow multiple programming languages to execute on the device, Flash included.

  8. ToWS Says:

    Flash must die. Be honest, what good does it do? It is the software equivalent of cheap, shoddy plastic toys from China – it exists simply to turn valuable resources into fundamentally unsatisfying experiences. It wastes power (carbon), and its suffering users’ time.
    The choice is to kill it now, or let it drag on for a few more years until it expires under the weight of its own bugs and bloat. As Lady Macbeth says, ‘If it must be done, ’twere better it were done quickly’. Only one company can actually do the slaying and the launch of the iPad is the uniquely empowered moment. Take the short term pain, and get ready for the long term gain. As for your picking a restaurant, use your eyes and your nose. If it serves good food it’s unlikely many Flash developers eat there.

  9. ediedi Says:

    Jobs’ letter containde absolutely nothing new, except when he mentions that half of buyers of Adobe’s CS suite use macs – could this be true? I think it’s huge, given the 10-1 raito of PC-Macs

  10. Rob Says:

    @ ediedi

    It’s true or damn close to it. Pretty telling that Adobe has already said it has no plans to kill its Mac apps.

  11. Matthew Fabb Says:

    It’s easy to get confused that Brimelow’s The Flash Blog isn’t the official Adobe blog, but they do have one.

    Here’s the offical Adobe Flash Platform blog:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplatform/

    The official Adobe Flash Player Team blog:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/

    The blog of Emmy Huang, Product Manager of Flash Player:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/emmy/

  12. Tom B Says:

    “he mentions that half of buyers of Adobe’s CS suite use Macs – could this be true?”

    Of course, all Adobe’s CS products are available on the PC, but if your bread and butter is doing creative work, it is reckless to use a Windows PC and give the computer more opportunities to get between you and your paycheck.

  13. davidt Says:

    Flash has been written off more times than I can remember, the reason that it just keeps on growing is because its useful, take digital interactive magazines, to view the Wired iPad version you need to download 500 mbs of content – thats 500 mbs. Thats a joke, a flash digital magazine of simular size would be around 5 mbs of content which you only need to download a small amount say 500 kbs at any one time.
    What Apple are asking everyone to do is go back about 5 years and start again, you can if you want, I have better things to do

  14. Kennesawga Garage Door installation Says:

    hey – nice blog, just ” shopping ” some blogs, seems quite a nice platform you are applying. I’m currently using WordPress

  15. John D. Says:

    As for me, success of selling iPhone is only because of marketing.

    I'm using Samsung Galaxy S2 on Android 2.3.3 – its much faster than iPhone 4. The reason, why I chose Samsung was price and speed.

    How can Apple disable the use of Flash technology on a smartphone? It is an important technology!

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