Steve Jobs trashes Flash in open letter

Darren Allan

April 29, 2010

Apple and Adobe haven’t had a particularly smooth relationship in recent times.

And now Steve Jobs has put pen to paper – or finger to virtual iPad keyboard, perhaps – to let us know exactly why Adobe Flash isn’t up to scratch for Apple’s tablet, or indeed iPhone.

And there are a number of reasons. A great big old list of them. Fasten your seatbelts.

One issue Steve has beef with concerns the draining of precious battery life on mobile devices by Flash video.

Then Steve highlights the problem of reliability, contending that the number one reason Macs crash is Flash. And in terms of security, Symantec recently highlighted Flash as having one of the worst security records in 2009.

The Apple CEO also makes the point that HTML 5 is far more open than Adobe’s solution, and then takes to task Adobe’s assertion that Apple devices can’t access the “full web” because 75% of video is Flash.

Jobs states that most of this video is available in the more modern H.264 format, which is perfectly viewable on the iPad and iPhone. Then he talks about the likes of YouTube, which hosts approaching half the video on the web, being bundled via an app on all Apple mobile devices.

He then mentions touch technology, saying that Flash was designed for keyboard and mouse systems, not multi-touch gesture devices.

Finally, Jobs concluded that: “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.”

Predictably, there’s been quite a flurried and heated response to this on the Internet.

With one of the most obvious comments springing up being that never mind HTML 5 being far more open than Flash, when it comes to closed shops, Apple is up there with the best of them.

It must be said, however, that Mr Jobs has a point on many of these issues, and with the continued delay of Flash 10 for mobiles, things really aren’t looking good for Adobe.

Flash 10.1 for Android, BlackBerry and WebOS should be out soon – in the first half of 2010 – but even if that is the case, you have to wonder if it’s all too late.

Steve Jobs certainly thinks so, and in the finishing flourish to his piece, he talks about Flash being a thing of the past.

He concludes: “New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).”

“Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

We expect a response from Adobe soon enough, and wonder whether it will be quite as detailed.


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