Flash on Macs: Birthright? Curse? Something Else?

By  |  Friday, October 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

I’ve been using a new MacBook Air which Apple loaned me for review–thoughts coming soon–and it didn’t take me very long to discover that it didn’t have Adobe’s FlashPlayer preinstalled. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether there was anything noteworthy about that–I couldn’t remember whether any Mac I’d ever used came with Flash, or whether I’d just installed it myself. In this case I did the latter (although–odd coincidence–going to the Flash download page got me an error message at first, and I had to come back later).

But as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, the lack of Flash is a new twist in the Apple-Adobe squabble. Apple says that it’s still cheerfully supporting Flash, and that downloading it from Adobe is the best way to get the safest, most current version. Others, of course, may draw more conspiratorial conclusions. (The timing is probably a coincidence, but it’s an interesting one: The news is hitting right before Adobe’s big, news-filled conference MAX kicks off.)

Is this bad news? For Adobe, it’s surely not good news:  It’s easier to be an industry standard when you’re a de facto operating system component than when you’re an optional download. But anyone who wants Flash can get it–I do, and I did. And Flash is now merely in the same boat as every other piece of non-Apple software. (I like Firefox, too, but I’m not indignant that it doesn’t come preinstalled.)

Your thoughts, please…


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. @evvywevvy Says:

    I'm in favor of penalizing Adobe in any way possible, because of the crap I deal with every day from Acrobat Reader.

    Seriously though, when you navigate to a page that requires Flash, doesn't it pop up and offer to find the plugin for you? Maybe 5 clicks. Not a problem.

  2. IcyFog Says:

    Best avoided. I block it in Safari with Click to Flash.

  3. Vulpine Says:

    I avoid it on all my own pages. The only Flash I have over three different websites is one keyword cloud widget on only one site. Don't need it; don't want it; won't use it.

    As for my own browsing, like IcyFog, I block it.

  4. Derek Says:

    Windows has *never* came with Flash installed from what I can recall, so what's the big deal?

  5. BambisMusings Says:

    Yep, who cares. As long as you can install whatever plugins you want and have at least one browser to start with to download stuff, who cares whether it comes pre-installed.

    In fact, it would likely be outdated by the time you get it anyway…just like it is on OEM Windows systems.

    Same is true with Java. In fact, it would be in Mac users’ best interest if Apple would stop being a middle man for Java and let Oracle do the Java for Macs at the same time they do it for the other OSes. Mac users would get the updates much quicker that way.

  6. Drunky Says:

    Flash is not only not necessary on a Mac, it’s an outright liability, along with Adobe’s further extensions of the PDF spec. The minute they started allowing executable code inside PDF, or Flash in PDF in Flash then Acrobat stopped being a document reader and started becoming an App/ Web Browser. With even MORE security holes as Flash is such a WONDERFULLY secure browser plugin. The whole plugin within a plugin recursion that Adobe now supports is as logically twisted as the Microsoft we all ‘know and love.’

    The only core os technology that is really necessary is PDF, and we’re talking the older more stable PDF that Apple licensed from Adobe YEARS ago. Everything else is a plugin (Flash, ugh; Java) that needs to be maintained by their respective vendors. If Adobe can’t survive on their own merits without being bundled then they do not deserve to survive, and they can go the way of Real Networks. Remember them?

    Adobe adopting Microsoft’s so-called ‘best security practices’ if not outright just becoming a Windows shop is not Apple’s problem.

  7. Jbelkin Says:

    Good news – less win pc crap ware, the better. Flash is like animated gif – useful for a couple years but now pretty pointless unless your a corporate site that wants to load persistent cookies. Good move apple – html, yes – prop rotary adobe crap ware, no.

  8. BambisMusings Says:

    Should still be available for the Mac though. Just let users go get it. It’s all about choice for the user.

  9. Matt Smith Says:

    Let the user get it, but don't ban it. That sounds like the best of both worlds.