Apple vs. Adobe Flash

30 04 2010

Let’s face it.  The poker game between Apple and Adobe has been going on since the early 1980’s and there is undoubtedly a boatload of history there going back to the early days of Adobe PostScript that most of us mortals will never know.

Steve Jobs on Flash

Steve Jobs wrote a blog on why Apple will not support Flash on their iPhone and iPad devices:

  • It’s proprietary. That’s true, but funny coming from Apple.  Apple’s contention is that anything on the Web should be open standards.
  • “Full Web.” Apple thinks is can make the full Web available by supporting other standards like H.264 (MPEG 4) and HTML5.
  • Reliability, Security, Performance.  Apple says that Symantec has listed Flash as being one of the biggest security risks.  Further, Apple says that Flash is the #1 cause of Mac crashes.  OK, but is that a Flash issue or a Mac OS issue???
  • Battery Life.  Adobe disputes this vehemently, but Apple says that Flash is a battery hog.
  • Support for Touch.  Apple products are designed to have a touch interface.  This will take major re-work for Flash to support.
  • Who Owns the Developer.  Apple says this is the biggest issue and I believe it.  They don’t want anybody but Apple owning the developer tools and environment.  Period.  It’s a strategic business issue.  I wonder just how important the first five issues really are?

A View from Ex-Adobe Developers

Gadget Lab published some interviews with ex-Adobe developers who say that they literally begged Adobe to get on board with the Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch devices and were met with indifference.  They ultimately left Adobe and started their own company.

Apple’s argument that Flash was designed for desktop PCs and has not kept up with the requirements of mobile,  touch interface, smartphones seems to have merit.

If interested read the full  Gadget Lab article.

My View

Speaking just for myself, I would be a lot happier without the slow loading times of Flash-heavy web sites and all the annoying wiggling things in ads.  This really has nothing to do with Flash.  If these people do not use Flash, they will use another technology.

At the end of the day we will all need some (preferably open) technology to view video content on the Web.  Today, about 90% of Internet video is in Adobe Flash format – according to the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab.  There are technologies perceived as more open such as HTML5 coming that could change that.  Apple’s position could accelerate the change as well.

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