Digesting Steve Jobs Thoughts on Flash

Apple CEO Steve Jobs posted an open letter yesterday explaining list of thoughts why Adobe Flash is not really allowed on mobile devices.

"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."

Steve Jobs explained the six key points:

Flash is not Open.
Flash is a 100% proprietary product. These only means that Adobe is in full control as to their future development and it's a closed system.

Though Apple has proprietary products too, Jobs believes that all web standards should be open such that of HTML5, CSS, Javascript and the WebKit (widely adopted open source project by most of the big companies).

Consider the Full Web.
Adobe has consistently argued that Apple devices is not of the "full web" and cannot access 75% of web videos because it's in Flash.

But Jobs pushes that almost all of the video on web is also available in a more modern format and can run smoothly through iPhones, iPods and iPads. H.264 to name it.

Secondly, Adobe insists that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. We know this is true and Apple claims it by the way.

"This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world."

Reliability, Security and Performance.
As Symantec emphasized that Flash is one of the worst records last year (2009) and that Apple asserts that Flash is the sole cause why Macs crashes. Still, Adobe can't fix the problem.

He also added, "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. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010."

Battery Life.
"To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power."

Jobs presses that when websites re-encode videos using H.264, Flash is not essential. As then, it runs "perfectly" in Safari and Chrome without any plugins etc. What do you think?

Flash driven websites depend on mouse rollover to which hovers pop-up menus and the like. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. It is and Jobs again insists the use of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Flash is a cross platform development tool.
"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."

And even into a worse scenario supplying a cross platform development tool which hinders developer from future enhancements. As Jobs plots, Apple wants to provide the most advanced and an innovative platform for developers and create the best applications ever.

Jobs concludes, "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." And that mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards.


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