Steve Jobs Criticizes Adobe and Flash. Again.

By Craig Buckler
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Here we go again. Apple’s Steve Jobs has received more publicity this week following his Flash-bashing open letter. The CEO doth protest too much, methinks. Let’s have a look at his 6 points in more detail but, before we do…

Note: We’re all biased

I don’t have or use Apple products. I admit they regularly create glorious devices but I don’t always understand the appeal or the price people are willing to pay for them.

I don’t develop in Flash. I prefer web standards but Flash has its uses. It is used inappropriately but the same can be said for any technology.

I’ll be accused of bias in one way or another, but those people will have their own biases. Everyone does.

Steve’s first point…

Flash products are 100% proprietary … Flash is a closed system.We strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open.

Great, although we could pick holes in that 100% figure — Flash comprises several closed and open source technologies. I’d hate to see the web evolve into a Flash-only platform, but it’s not likely to happen Steve.

almost all [Flash] video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads

What Steve means is that YouTube offer H.264. While that’s the most popular video site, it’s a different story when iPhone users go elsewhere on the web.And why H.264? It’s covered by patents which impede royalty-free usage — hardly the “open” web standards Steve wants.

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. Flash is the number one reason Macs crash.

Flash has a bad reputation on the Mac but has that stopped people using it? Adobe should fix the problems, but will they bother when Apple publicly berates their efforts? Would Apple have the same attitude if Adobe pulled PhotoShop from the Mac platform?Besides, I’m sure Steve would be horrified by much of the software I run on my PC and phone. Isn’t that my choice?

Fourth, there’s battery life.

Steve quotes a specific example:

  • You can view a (hardware-decoded) H.264 video on the iPhone for 10 hours.
  • The same video in Flash (assuming it’s not H.264-encoded) drains the battery in 5 hours.

Does it matter? How many other applications drain the iPhone battery? Would Apple criticize or ban other products for irresponsible electricity leakage?

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”…Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

First, Flash has it’s roots in SmartSketch — a drawing application for pen-based PCs.But I don’t understand his point? HTML-based websites often rely on rollovers and mouse input. If standard HTML works so well on Apple devices, why are many companies urgently producing iPhone-specific versions of their existing web applications?

Sixth, the most important reason.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.

That can happen. But it can also generate healthy competition and choice.The iPhone is one of the most closed and proprietary products on the market. Apple has total control over what applications you can write, distribute and run. That’s their prerogative, but it grates against Steve’s call for an open web.Ultimately, Apple is protecting their business interests. They’re not consumer champions protecting users from Adobe evil.Enough of my ranting. Here’s a chance to have your say — it’s unlikely to affect Apple’s decision, but cast your vote on the SitePoint home page or leave a comment below.

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  • WebKarnage

    I agree with a few more of Steve’s points than you obviously do, and his comments about open and closed were a response to Adobe calling for the iPhone to be ‘open’. Neither that or Flash are. Adobe wants to make more money from the existence of the iPhone (don’t all devs) but Apple fears for the user experience of it’s devices. After all, that’s the biggest thing that keeps them selling. It’s not a specifically anti Adobe thing.

    Maybe if Adobe had considered development of a hardware linked system to boost Flash efficiency, they’d have really nailed this a long time ago, but that might just be too late now. That’s one of the place where in the end, H264 and HTML5 will win.

    I don’t use much in the way of Adobe software (just the PDF document format really) and don’t own an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad either. Can’t see myself getting one any time soon to boot, so I’m more interested in the future for the web than this very specific battle, and with Microsoft backing H264 for IE 9 video delivery, we can all see which way it’s going.

    Surely Adobe could more usefully aim it’s efforts elsewhere, but seems keen to keep fighting this un-winnable war in the vain hope of denting Apple in some ‘tit for tat’ kind of way. It won’t manage it.

    with best regards,

    • I don’t buy the “we’re doing it for the benefit of users” argument. Some users want Flash. Some don’t. Some don’t know what Flash is. Why not let people have the option? I’m sure there are hundreds of crap applications in the App Store.

      But why does Steve Jobs feel compelled to continually defend Apple’s opinion? And why is Flash so poor on some devices?

      It’d probably be best if neither company won.

      • WebKarnage

        Flash is poor on every mobile device as of now. It would look worse for the iPhone to an unknowing user to see bad Flash response than not to see it at all. That’s why they are doing it.

        I don’t agree with what Jobs states as the reasons, but I’d make the same choice for different ones in his position. He states those reasons for how they look in print like all the CEOs of big companies do. They are about as straight as politicians.

        Neither company will ‘win’ but Adobe could stand to lose if it keeps on with this.

  • Ian @kooladesign

    I have a Mac and an iPhone but I must say these some are some fantastic and valid points in response to Steve Jobs. I find Apple products to be more reliable and more secure (I’ve not had anti-virus software on a computer for three years), and that is why it is worth paying more, though there is one exception – the iPhone sync cable is of a poor flawed design.

    P.S. I have a slow connection at the moment which I think is causing the Sitepoint server to timeout meaning I can’t login because the database does not respond in time.

  • Wyte Rabbit

    Very good blog post, I agree completely with your stance.

    My obsession with Apple products and software is over, I doubt I will buy another Apple product again as I am getting sick and tired of this debate. Overall I couldn’t care less, I do not wish for an iPhone that can play Flash video, it doesn’t affect my life at all and I will not buy that paper weight they released recently called an iPad. But I can understand the usefulness of having it so you don’t holes in web pages.

    As for the open standards, that’s a joke. Apple is the most closed source, proprietary company in the hardware and software realm. Also I might add that they are championing the whole HTML 5 and CSS3 thing, how long have these round-table groups been discussing the wide implementation of CSS3? What makes an agreement on HTML 5 being any different, I bet we will be sat here in three years time still itching to build websites in HTML 5 but because of one software developer, we won’t be able to.

    I love my OS X, I switched over three years ago and never looked back but this whole bullying without a cause has soured me and I really dislike the direction which Apple is taking. It would be different if Apple and Steve Jobs actually had a cause, if this whole to-ing and throwing was about encouraging Adobe to build upon Flash and their other products to run better then I could understand it. At the moment it just seems like Jobs throwing shit to backup his initial decision to keep Flash off of the iPhone, iPad etc. It’s school yard mentality.

    If only Adobe made their Creative Suite for Linux, I would dump Apple the same way I dumped Microsoft.

  • S.Firat Sarlar

    I’m a freelance developer, working about 12 years in internet programming area.. I found all this critics unfair when it comes to comparing flash and html.
    There’re simple things I knew and used during my journey, while people trying to reduce get request by sprites, concating and compressing javascripts,css a flash developer naturally have always a chance to publish a project in a one swf file ( which compressed default since flash 6 version ) .
    Flash developers has acces to bits of bitmaps for a long time.
    Javascript is not organized and compact as actionscript is. ( namespaces, byte code compiling, library organization, swc libs … ).
    So I may write lot of things but the things I told should be considered to make fair judgement..

  • Clintonio

    In some ways I agree with Jobs, others I do not. I particularly dislike his hypocrisy.
    I’m a Windows guy, I don’t own anything Apple. I’ll probably end up a Google guy though. As for Linux; it’s like, an OS for more nerdy and technical uses, so I regularly use it. But never as my primary OS.

    Anyway, I’d hope that both Flash AND Apple bit the dust.

  • Moreno

    Steve Job’s letter is just demagogy in IT politics.
    I think there’s nobody ingenuous enough to think that all Apple cares about is user experience and open standards. Is Steve Joking?
    Improving user experience is not Apple’s goal. Rather, it is a mean for creating fascination and preserving customers. In short, to go on making money.
    Open standards? Apple USES good and open frameworks because they’re obviously better, but this is a totally different thing than being its defender.
    Well, yeah, Apple’s devices are very well developed and the OS is reliable, but please remember two things:
    1) Those devices are just eyecandy without the user action (iPhone, as an example, would just be a 700€ heavy rounded B-mobile if it wasn’t for jailbreaking and third party applications).
    2) Apple would be nothing without Adobe Photoshop and Co., meaning that it has to rely on external development.
    I agree with Buckler:
    “Ultimately, Apple is protecting their business interests.”

  • Trixie

    if you’re pretending to have devices that let you fully enjoy the web, those devices should at least be backwards compatible. Isn’t that one of the reasons HTML5 won from XHTML2? If a lot of current sites use (probably inappropriate) Flash, simply allow Flash. Maybe with a warning, but just allow it.

    Apple is locking people & content out. i like my mac, but i love android for its openness. >>

  • Simon

    Here we go again indeed…
    Flash, from an accessibility POV, is a nightmare. I’ll acknowledge that things are improving but it still shuts out disabled web users, as well as those that a browsing from a mobile device. Yes, Google and Adobe have announced that Flash is coming to Android. That is version 2.2 only and with the current performance of Flash on other platform, I don’t hold out much hope. This will alsom only be available to a few users too. Yes, I know that users are free to update their handsets (like iPhone users, funnily enough), but HTC and the other don’t follow it through for all their handsets, and Joe Average isn’t going to go through the hassle of manually installing a new version of Android OS just for Flash, a geek on the other hand may…
    The patents affecting H.264 do not impede “royalty-free usage” at all — they impede commercial usage, which is a completely different kettle of fish.
    The security issue is a great reason to not let a framework onto a new OS! Flash has stability and security issues on ALL platforms, not just Macs.
    Battery life is important to most consumers, like it or not! Flash degrading battery life is an issue, suggesting it’s a strawman is contrary for the sake of being contrary. Apple, AFAIK, have rejected apps based on this issue.
    Flash is actually based on FutureSplash Animator. I can see what you are trying to do, but you are actually more wrong than Jobs! Beside, pen-based is more akin to WIMP than touch is.
    RE: the most important reason…
    You ever heard the expression; “once bitten, twice shy…”?
    have a read of and for an explanation of why Jobs thinks this is important.

    • Anonymous

      Do you know what else is an accessibility nightmare for the blind just like flash? A touch screen device like the iPhone.

      • Iza

        I think you should have checked your facts first before making assumptions on the subject you obviously don’t understand very well. My vision-impaired colleagues use iPhone because many applications are accessible to them and make their lives easier.

        But don’t take my word for it, read Accessibility For iPhone And iPod touch: A Blind User’s Review

  • The take-away for me on all of this back-and-forth commentary from Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google… is that the landscape is made up of two teams: 1) Apple + Microsoft and 2) Adobe + Google.

  • ruprict

    For those of you that think all things Apple are more secure, you should read and the article linked from that site. The Mac is most-definitely not more secure than Windows.

    Also, there are multiple articles on people getting their iTunes account hacked and then still being forced by Apple to pay for apps/music they didn’t buy. The truth is, Apple products are not as secure as people claim (I use to claim they were, until I did a bit of research) nor does Apple do as much as they should to protect users’ information.

    Apple has created a buzz and a following that are truly envious. They are a business, and they are doing very well. I don’t think Microsoft, or even Google, could get away with charging Apple’s premium along with treating customers like garbage.

    I think I’d have more respect for Steve if he just came out and said “It’s our hardware and OS, so we will decide what runs on it, period. Oh, and we will base that decision on what makes us the most money.” That is how it is, regardless of Jobs comments on any other framework.

    That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

  • Steve W

    “I don’t have or use Apple products.” So why are you writing about something you have no experience with. You obviously don’t care about the products, so you must hate the company.

    Steve Jobs is try to make a distinction between the internet and the web. Safari is Apple’s web application; native apps are internet apps. You can disagree with this definition, in which case you won’t understand what he is saying (whether you agree or not).

    Apple collects 30% of the revenue from App store apps. Therefore those apps are restricted to things that won’t embarrass Apple or its stockholders. When Jobs says Safari offers the “full web experience”, he means porn and everything else that Apple shareholders doesn’t want to be associated with.

    “Flash has a bad reputation on the Mac but has that stopped people using it?” OH YES!!!! Flash Block and Click to Flash are very popular outside the Windows world (Linux and Mac OS X).

    “And why H.264? It’s covered by patents which impede royalty-free usage — hardly the “open” web standards Steve wants.”

    There is a big difference between free and open, and I am sure you know that.

    “Apple is the most closed source, proprietary company in the hardware and software realm.”

    More so than Adobe? More so than Microsoft? OH RLY! Then why are everybody from Nokia to Google adopting WebKit? Wi-Fi seems pretty popular, too?

    “If only Adobe made their Creative Suite for Linux….” [snicker]

    “Some users want Flash. Some don’t. Some don’t know what Flash is. Why not let people have the option? ”

    That IS what this is about. Lack of choice. There are a lot of Flash Only sites out there, and they are likely to remain that way until enough people with power puts their feet down. Most users don’t care about flash, they are only interested in the content.

    If you had a choice between draining your phone battery in 5 hours or 10, everything else being equal, which would you choose? How many websites give you that choice?

    • boltronics

      So why are you writing about something you have no experience with. You obviously don’t care about the products, so you must hate the company.

      That’s a leap, if ever I’ve heard one. If you don’t use them, you hate them? By that logic, you probably hate Porsche.

      apps are restricted to things that won’t embarrass Apple or its stockholders.

      Rubbish. It just depends on which way the wind is blowing. How do you explain Apple approving Puff Puff Pass?

      Even if true, that’s unacceptable. I should have the freedom to install whatever I want. If Apple won’t host content it disagrees with, anyone else should have the right to be able to do it.

      There is a big difference between free and open, and I am sure you know that.

      Web standards are free and open. H.264 is not. Jobs was criticizing Flash by comparing it to web standards, all the while indicating his support of H.264 (as opposed to, say, Theora), thus the contradiction.

      More so than Adobe? More so than Microsoft? OH RLY!

      Yes, they are. The App Store is proof enough. Then there’s Apple demanding OSX only run on Apple-branded computers. Neither Microsoft or Adobe have ever gone so far with any product release I’m aware of – at least not on this scale.

      “If only Adobe made their Creative Suite for Linux….” [snicker]

      Steam is coming to GNU/Linux. In the past we’ve had Corel port all kinds of products to GNU/Linux (even if their projects were short-lived, this was almost 10 years ago when it was less viable to do so). Id Software has traditionally ported all their games to GNU/Linux. WINE can run *most* (>50%) Windows programs based on my experience. Oh yeah, and guess what OS I’m typing this on? That’s right… a GNU/Linux distro. The number of users is only growing.

      That IS what this is about. Lack of choice.

      Just as a web developer can be evil and decide to only make their website compatible with proprietary technologies, Apple is being evil and has decided to force their own preference upon users too. Apple is just as guilty as the developers of those Flash Only websites you speak of.

      If you had a choice between draining your phone battery in 5 hours or 10, everything else being equal, which would you choose?

      If you’re content to have Apple make all your decisions for you just because you agree with them this time, that’s your choice. I personally value my freedom much more than you obviously do.

  • Nunuvyer Bizniz

    Remember when Apple released the first iMac without a floppy drive? Steve Jobs is smarter than you. If he says Flash is dead, Flash is dead.

  • MacHelp

    Apple doesn’t want Flash-created apps on the App Store for a simple reason: It reduces the iPhone to a lowest-common denominator platform, and at that point Apple loses all control over the iPhone OS experience.

    Once developers can create an app in one development environment—Adobe’s—and compile it to run on every smartphone known to humankind, many developers will decide to save themselves a boatload of money and stop developing native apps for the iPhone, Android, and other platforms. They’ll just develop once, for Flash, and let it run anywhere.

    Sounds good, but the “develop-once-run-anywhere” philosophy is something that makes more sense to bean counters and development-environment vendors than it does to platform owners and discriminating users. In the ’90s we were told that Java apps would be the future of software, because you could write them once and deploy them anywhere. It was a disaster.

    Apple doesn’t want apps that don’t feel like native iPhone apps on the iPhone. It doesn’t want Adobe to aid developers in creating a world where App X for iPhone and App X for Android are indistinguishable from one another. Apple doesn’t want to introduce new iPhone features and then watch as nobody takes advantage of them because Adobe hasn’t updated its development system yet. Or, worse, watches as Adobe refuses to adopt them because the other operating systems don’t support those features.

    If iPhone apps are one of Apple’s greatest assets, a lowest-common-demoninator app world is Apple’s greatest nightmare. Apple wants the iPhone app experience to be created using Apple’s native tools by developers who are engaged with the platform and falling over themselves to support Apple’s latest features. These are the developers who were downloading and installing iPhone OS 4.0 on the day of it’s developer release and poring over the documentation, getting ready to dig in and start updating their apps for this fall’s release.

  • JHig310336

    I really liked you last point:

    The iPhone is one of the most closed and proprietary products on the market. Apple has total control over what applications you can write, distribute and run. That’s their prerogative, but it grates against Steve’s call for an open web. Ultimately, Apple is protecting their business interests. They’re not consumer champions protecting users from Adobe evil.

    There is nothing better than the spoken truth! I too am biased and against the Apple/Mac revolution. I’ve never had nor used Apple products and like you, I think they are beautifully designed devises but I don’t always understand the appeal or the price people are willing to pay for them.
    Whats hard to take for me when it comes to Mac users are with Apple closed off technology. Some of the most die-hard OpenSource/web standard activist developers/users/supporters I know, all have a Mac at home and a iPhone in their pocket. May be I missed something but when did Apple become the standard in Open Source? I have a huge problem with purchasing something at such an incredible price point just to have the developer dictate what I can and can not install or tell me how I can or can not use their machine. I have a huge problem with that.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that for Apple to do this is childish. At one point I actually had respect for Apple and for them to make quality products. However this is starting to get out of hand.

    This has nothing to do with usability anymore. Steve jobs looks at Adobe as competition.

  • Chris Pratt

    A few points of clarification:

    1) Flash *is* 100% proprietary. That software may make use of open technologies does not make it, itself, not proprietary. You can’t view Flash’s source code. You can’t create a Flash editor, nor a Flash viewer. From creation to distribution, it’s all controlled by Adobe.

    2) h.264 is used by far more than YouTube. Jobs actually lists all the places where you can get your HTML5 video fix. Odd that you didn’t quote *that* part. Guess it would have interfered with your straw-man argument.

    3) You quote the part about security flaws in Flash and then proceed to talk about something else. This isn’t an issue or slow, buggy or unattractive software. Flash creates security holes. Period. And it doe it on Windows, just as well (some might say far better).

    4) Yes, it does matter, in fact, that Flash drains battery at an alarming rate. If I open up a GPS app, I do so with the knowledge that I should probably connect a power source. Browsing the web, though, I can’t necessary control whether I’m fed Flash or not. That’s the difference: some third-party making the choice for me to drain my battery.

    5) You’re right here. Standard HTML websites often assume mouse, too. And, not all websites do function well on touch devices, Flash or not. However, one big difference is that site owners can do as you mention and create touch-optimized versions. There is no way to touch-optimize a Flash application, because Flash provides nothing to do so.

    6) Finally, iPhone OS’ closed nature is debatable as a positive or a negative. But, it doesn’t “grate against Steve’s call for an open web,” mainly because it doesn’t have anything to do with the web. It’s a separate platform to the web, so closed OS, open web is not mutually exclusive.

    Let’s see… That’s 0 for 6. Try harder next time.

    • EastCoast

      Unfortunately Chris Prat’s comments are the typical uninformed responses regurgitated by Apple zealots who choose to take whatever Apple say as ‘fact’.

      A large part of the flash engine is open source:
      Anybody can create a flash editor (the swf specification is open and documented) and you can also create a viewer:

      The battery life of iphone is rubbish, full stop. The 5 minutes a day I’d have flash content on screen while browsing isn’t going to make any difference. If flash were available then there would be the browser capability to use it or not, like you have in all browsers.

      Latest version of flash has multi-touch capability. It’s easy enough however to use older capabilities to supply touch capability (multimedia developers like myself have been able to do this for touchscreen kiosk apps for’s as easy as using onPress instead of onRelease).

  • XLCowBoy

    Pot. Meet Kettle.

  • I read Steve’s PR note earlier this week on my 27″ iMac (which is an amazing computer) but I don’t buy it.

    First on the subject of “Open”, it’s not as though Adobe set out to create a closed system. Flash was part of Macromedia when Adobe bought them. They have done some amazing things with Flex & Air since then and there are lots of tools that can be used to create SWF files, Canvas, SWF Maker, Swish, even Illustrator before Adobe bought Macromedia. On the other hand, there is only one way to create iPhone/iPad apps and only one place to distribute them… All controlled by Apple.

    Then regarding HTML5 and H.264… HTML5 promises a great standard but it is still a working draft. It’s a bit premature for anyone to suggest that Flash should be abandoned because HTML5 replaces it. Furthermore support for H.264 is mounting but to say the majority of media is available in it is stretching the truth (if I’m being nice).

    The 50,000 game titles really makes Apple’s case. There are 50,000 games that you can buy from the iTunes store so we’ll stop you from being able to access thousands that you might like to play on the Internet.

    I think the security and performance bit is a load of rubbish. I don’t know anyone personally who has had flash trouble crash their Mac and being Unix, it shouldn’t be able to. I wonder if it’s just a problem with Safari and Flash? I don’t use Safari except for testing. Opera, Chrome and Firefox are superior.

    The nonsense about about Flash being a screen/mouse centric system is just that… nonsense. Software influences and adapts. Touch screens have been around for a long time and there are likely developers who have come up with plugins for Flash to work with touch screens.

    Steve, quit being such a control freak, I don’t buy your “I’m doing it for the good of my customers” position. If iPhone/iPad customers want to use a readily available technology, you shouldn’t be locking them out. I’ve had an iTouch for a little over a year and I want Flash on it.

  • Louis Wheeler

    All I see is that you have totally bought into Adobe’s absurd talking points.
    1. Steve was complaining that Adobe was lying when it said that Flash was open when it is not. What’s wrong with replying to a lie?
    2. Apple has a history of sidelining obsolete technology, no matter how currently popular. It did it with the Floppy disk on the original iMac and got the same hubbub.
    Why complain about H.264 being proprietary? MPEG LA is not likely to be any more exploitive of H.264 than Adobe is of Flash.
    3. Apple is rightly concerned about bad software on the iPhone, because it can get blamed for poor service. Apple is interested in progressing toward better technologies. Why are you standing in the way of progress?
    4. Are you nuts? Battery life isn’t important in mobile phones?
    5. The use of Flash on touch screens like the iPhone would require extensive reworking to existing Flash web pages. It is a better utilization of funds to move toward HTML 5. But, it’s not your money, right?
    6. Apple is dead set against placing themselves on the iPhone at the mercy of third party, cross platform, development tools. Whether Apple is correct in this, doesn’t matter. This is settled, so get over it. You have to use Apple’s development tools or develop for some other platform.
    Is Apple being arbitrary about this? Yes, but who cares? Apple says it is trying tp prevent future problems. That is why it is demanding that any internal applications on the iPhone be in native formats. This is because the resources on the iPhone are limited. If you don’t want to use internal apps then use Web applications.
    Adobe has not developed Flash software which will run on the iPhone. Hundreds of millions of images or videos would need to be recoded to make Flash work on the iPhone. Apple has chosen to push for HTML 5, instead.
    What Apple is doing is protecting the iPhone platform. This also protects its business plans. Apple is not restricting Flash from the Macintosh platform, even though Flash is the major cause of crashes in Safari.
    Apple embraces open standards, not an open Web, while it uses proprietary software to differentiate itself. What is illegal, immoral or unethical about doing that?

    • 1) Actually I would go as far to say Steve Jobs is lying in several points of his PR piece or at least stretching the truth beyond a doubt.

      2) Nope, I had an original blueberry iMac and the outboard floppy, outboard HD 150/200MB drive too. They continued to support those some point into the 2000’s

      3) Perhaps but nobody is standing in the way of progress. Steve is preventing progress down a certain path.

      4) Yup

      5) Nope, you’re incorrect here. Just as regular websites will run in a touch screen so will Flash based sites. There are plenty of Windows 7 based touch screen systems that will manage a Flash GUI without any reworking.

      6) That’s just a reiteration of Steve Jobs’ position on the situation. I don’t believe him. I’m not a huge fan of Flash based sites but I think it’s important to speak up when something is so obviously not true. Flash maybe the major cause of crashes in Safari but I think that speaks more about Safari than it does of Flash.

  • dnaas

    Steve Jobs is only worried about loosing control of the Apps. Store. HTML 5 will not win my friend; you still will have at least 3 different implimentations that will not line up exactly. The browser wars will continue and HTML 5 cannot compete with Flash 3d or Silverlight for that matter. I find these comments about Flash are by morons that do not know how to program in either Flash or Silverlight. Yes, I currently develop with HTML 5 and IPhone. Andriod (Google provides a better development platform)

    I thought Microsoft was Big Brother, looks like Apple has taken that over and Microsoft is now the good guy. As the Andriod gains power, and the Flash player, it will surpass the Iphone. IPAD… nice Idea poor implimentation.

  • JS

    Isn’t it amusing how much the “Tech Media” seems to be behind closed proprietary solutions except when Apple does it. I’m sorry Jobs has valid points. HTML 5 is the future even MS has acknowledged this fact. Flash will not go away over night but it will go away. I can’t wait to read about consumers when their phone has been compromised by a security hole in Flash & Adobe takes a year or more to fix it across all platforms. I wonder what all the tech pundits will say when consumers start realizing that Google’s (or who ever) development cycle is waiting on Adobe to fix & update their software to be in compliance with the latest version of the phone OS. When the average consumer’s phone craps out & battery life is for shit who do you think they will blame? Adobe? Wrong Google. Apple has already experienced this FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS with Adobe. Apple has worked with Adobe on Flash. Most people could care less & if they do they have other options. Go buy another phone from some other vendor. Usually the people that think like this would not have bought an Apple product to begin with. All you have to look at sales of the iPhone to realize most people could care less. They are growing not diminishing. I want my devices to work & work properly. I could care less about someone developing for multiple platforms. If it doesn’t work properly on the platform of choice the developer sucks. I don’t care about maximizing adobe’s profit margins or giving adobe too much leverage over media distribution on the internet. That seems to be what you want all the while smoke screening the issue with the word “choice.”
    It’s also funny how Wyte Rabbit argues for proprietary plug-ins & media distribution & the uses Linux in the same sentence. Linux? They give it away for FREE & still most people will never touch it. Linux needs a business model & it needs some sort of customer support structure to even begin being taken seriously in the consumer & end user space. People have lives to live. These devices are supposed to be tools to make that easier not hobbies to constantly tweak. By the way Wyte Rabbit Apple’s hardware is closed but MS is the most proprietary software company on the planet. I don’t see any problems with closed systems as long as the adhere to standards, open protocols & formats.

  • Spank
  • Raven-sb

    Good post and I agree with it. Whilst I don’t use Flash or Apple, I am tending towards supporting Abode on this one. I also agree with the articles that I’ve read on the subject that says that Mr Job’s (and others) are using flash as a smokescreen to divert from the real issue. The real issue being that Steve Job’s wants control over the ipad/iphone development platform. Which is understandable. However, the way he has handled the ‘Adobe’ issue has turned me off his product. I wonder how Mr Job’s would have reacted if on the eve of a major Apple product launch, Abode announced it was restricting its products to non-Apple platforms only?

  • FRED07

    @WyteRabbit:”Apple is the most closed source, proprietary company in the hardware and software realm.”

    No, Adobe is more, more, closed and proprietary company than Apple.

  • John Davis

    I think Jobs is right. Flash sucks. It’s been the cause of crashes several times, it’s a CPU hog and it’s not needed because there’s other stuff already in the OS that does the same thing. What’s the point using up CPU bandwidth to convert Flash code to something that a Mac can display? This is what would use up battery life. Hell, I’d MUCH rather have 10 hours of use on one charge than five!

    And, as many have pointed out, Mobile Flash is vaporware. It existeth not in reality. Maybe end of 2010, maybe early 2011. Why should Apple wait?

    The whole thing reminds me of the bleating when Apple decided to bury the floppy drive.

    Flash is gone. Get over it. It’s dead, 90s technology.

  • crapple

    This come at no surprise! Apple is well-known for closing the door to industry best practices and standards.
    Enough said! Adobe should discontinue support for all of its creative products for the platform as so should Microsoft. This will get there attention for sure!

  • Guest

    Please read ex-Adobe’s engineers have to say..

  • iphonerulez

    I fail to understand why non-iPhone, Touch or iPad users are constantly bitching about Apple not using Flash. If Apple is wrong then Apple will fail and that should make the iHaters happy. Apple will go out of business and that will be the end of it. I never knew that there was such a love for Adobe and Flash. Since when did Adobe exert so much influence on the computer world? It looks like a fairly small company to me. I’d think if Apple and Microsoft actively went against it, it would go into the toilet.

    It really doesn’t matter whether Flash is good or not. Flash on mobile will be a non-starter. Major TV studios won’t care nor will major movie studios or advertisers. The more iPads and iPhones that are sold the quicker Flash will be bypassed. The advertisers want to be where the money is and Apple is going to be pulling in the most revenue per percentage of market share. Who cares if Android has major market share? It won’t mean a thing. Apple will control all the revenue and that’s what advertisers want to tap into. The advertisers will make an end run around Flash if their needs aren’t met.

    All you Flash lovers will best be served by just staying on the desktop where Flash will maintain its power. Adobe and its CEO Narayen have no power at all in the mobile world. Steve Jobs media clout will have Adobe jumping through hoops in the mobile world. There’s no contest at all. Apple will clearly be the winner. Apple will sell approximately 7 million iPads this year and if those consumers can’t watch their videos, they’re going to blame Adobe, not Apple. By the end of this year, Apple will likely become the richest tech company and they’ll make the rules, not Adobe.

    • Anonymous

      You fail to understand alright.

  • For all the Linux doubters…

    Mac OS and Linux share a common ancestor – Unix. I suspect Adobe could product Linux-based versions of all their Mac software within months if they had the business inclination to do so.

    Apple is playing a dangerous game. A computer is only as good as the software it runs (to their credit, Microsoft identified this 30 years ago). Attempting to control that market could lead to developers abandoning the platform altogether. How many people would buy a Mac if PhotoShop wasn’t available?

  • XLCowBoy

    Re: Wired article –

    Ex-adobe engineers?

    They got up, left, and started their own company to compete against Adobe. Of course they would trash talk them.

    Job’s comment regarding Adobe and Cocoa is pure BS. Everyone (who read that story) knows that Adobe couldn’t do anything because of the timing of Apple’s decision regarding Cocoa and Carbon.

    Honestly though, I’m waiting for Adobe to respond. Job’s open letter was clearly an attack, and a near-slanderous one at that. It was totally unprofessional, and anyone who knew anything about developing and this industry could clearly see Job’s unrestrained bias.

    If I were in Adobe’s shoes, I would drop OSX support for CS6. It’s one thing to say “no thanks, we want to control our app market”, and it’s a totally different thing to say “we want to control our app market, and I’m going to make your company look like shit in the process.”

  • XLCowBoy

    Ah, found the article regarding Cocoa:


    At the WWDC show last June, however, Adobe & other developers learned that Apple had decided to stop their Carbon 64 efforts. This means that 64-bit Mac apps need to be written to use Cocoa (as Lightroom is) instead of Carbon. This means that we’ll need to rewrite large parts of Photoshop and its plug-ins (potentially affecting over a million lines of code) to move it from Carbon to Cocoa.

    Now let me be very clear about something: It’s entirely Apple’s call about what’s best for the Mac OS and how to spend their engineering cycles. Like any development team, they have finite resources & need to spend them judiciously. They’ve decided that Carbon 64 doesn’t belong on their roadmap, and we respect their decision. It’s up to Adobe to adapt to the new plan.

    As soon as we got the news in June, we began adjusting our product development plans. No one has ever ported an application the size of Photoshop from Carbon to Cocoa (as I mentioned earlier, after 9 years as an Apple product Final Cut Pro remains Carbon-based), so we’re dealing with unknown territory. We began training our engineers to rewrite code in Objective C (instead of C++), and they began prototyping select areas to get a better view of the overall effort.

    In short, Adobe has been taking prompt, pragmatic steps to enable 64-bit Photoshop as quickly as possible on both Mac and Windows. It’s a great feature, not a magic bullet, and we’re delivering the functionality as quickly as each platform permits.


  • Raven-sb

    XLCowBoy said

    If I were in Adobe’s shoes, I would drop OSX support for CS6. It’s one thing to say “no thanks, we want to control our app market”, and it’s a totally different thing to say “we want to control our app market, and I’m going to make your company look like shit in the process.

    This for me is the main issue. Personally I don’t care if Jobs leads Apple off into a world of it’s own closed environment. If that works for them then great. But it does annoy me when nasty attacks such as the one Jobs made against Adobe occur. It’s an aspect of corporate business that I don’t like and never have. Then again I’m an idealist.

    • Rob

      OK – this is getting silly.

      First – Apple’s mobile device sales will not be hurt by a lack of Flash. As long as the apps, maps and phone work on my iPhone who cares about Flash? (OK so no Streetview.) Why run mobile unfriendly games when there’s tons of free fun on the app store? And as far as watching video on the iPhone – who can afford THAT plan? Nothing on YouTube is that urgent.

      So Apple mobile products without Flash? Who cares? Sales will not even flinch.

      Flash developers are peeved and fair enough. It’d be great to have a familiar interface to Apple’s red hot new devices. But you can go back through the history of programming languages with that argument – should we be trying to build apps in FORTRAN?

      And then there’s the key problems with Flash that Jobs points out that are ignored by this article for whatever reason.

      Adobe’s Flash is an all purpose tool for making interactive multimedia content on a large variety of platforms. To do that it can’t be platform specific, so it can’t use device hardware. There’s a number of problems with that direction.

      With Flash everything must be done by the CPU, so Flash hogs CPU and it chews through battery life (CPUs are power hungry).

      And it imposes a lowest common denominator feature decapitator – one app must fit all. It can’t take advantage of the unique features of a device like a motion sensor, a compass, a WiFi network, a multi-point touch screen, etc. So all of the great unique features of Apple mobile devices are lost.

      It’s reasonable for Apple to be unhappy with making their red hot devices perform and behave like all the mundane and clumsy mobile devices (everyone else). And that alone is a good enough reason for Apple to drop Flash. How can you charge top dollar for something that behaves like bargain basement? What’s the motivation for developing red hot devices if developers don’t use tools that exploit their unique features. The unique features that SELL the things!

      And developers know Flash sucks! It hogs CPU (and therefore battery life), it’s not accessible, and it’s not mobile or web friendly (try to bookmark content in a Flash site, try to make a Flash game fit your iPhone screen). And Adobe charge a fortune for minor updates and then it’s still years behind the latest platforms. It may contain Open Source fragments but that in no way makes Flash Open Source. That’s a very silly point. When Flash is FREE and we can all work on something like an Apple device specific framework we’ll think about using the term ‘Open Source’ in the same sentence as ‘Flash’.

      Meanwhile Apple’s tools are free and up to date. AND, thanks to HTML 5, you can code these devices with JavaScript! So there’s a few million chunks of free code to get the ball rolling with – a developer friendly open source platform with FREE tools.

      Apple release showcase apps with the tools that made them when they launch their new products. There was a reason they used to launch products at the Mac developers conference. While they don’t do that anymore (out grown) no one can deny that they LOVE their developers (except maybe Adobe).

      So feel the love and check out Apple’s tools before you moan about losing Flash.

      Finally ads – apparently because Apple are so ‘greedy’. LOL – let’s ignore the fab and unique deal they offer apps developers shall we?

      Flash will let anyone link almost anything into their SWFs including advertising. While that sounds reasonable you have to remember the reason that Apple can sell you music and films from major studios and labels is because they have iron clad licensing agreements specific to every region. And the reason parents are happy to buy Apple devices for their kids is they know they won’t be getting dodgy sold dating services and porn on the back of some free Flash game.

      So if they don’t control what is fed into their apps they could see their lovely devices turned nasty and bite them very hard.

      The fact is that it’s perfectly alright for a device manufacturer to decide the development restraints of their devices.

      And the really major fact is, and this one keeps getting forgotten or ignored, Apple make money for developers, Adobe take money from developers.

      So stop complaining, download the FREE tools from Apple, and make some money out of your great app ideas instead of blowing it on CommercialSoftware5/6/ad infinitum. I am sick of having Adobe’s hand in my wallet.

      • The point really isn’t about Flash per se. Apple is:

        (a) forcing developers to use their tools – which aren’t free and only work on a Mac (anti-competitive vendor lock-in?)

        (b) can refuse Adobe’s, your or my applications for arcane reasons

        (c) keep making excuses and bad-mouthing companies who are try to use their platform.

        You specifically mention battery life. Most iPhone games will drain the battery faster than any other app – but has Apple complained about or banned them?

        Apple can do what they want (within law) and consumers can choose to buy or not buy their products. But they’re not the moral IT guardians they claim to be.

  • Sergio

    I’m reading this article on an iPod touch, oh the dilemma!

  • FunkyDUde

    Flash (actionscript) is very open source, you can download the flex compiler and built a flash application with no purchase from Adobe whatsoever. Speaking of open source, isn’t it Apple that made it difficult for developers to make iPhone applications (unless your running a Mac OS that supports Cocoa development).

  • Dan

    Is it possible that Apple is going to monetize the iPhone further by creating some competitive technology to Adobe’s Flash?

    Imagine if Steve Jobs released a flash that is compatible with iPhone. Even if it didn’t become a standard, boy it would sell. Especially if it was easy to put a flash file into it and have it spit out something compatible with iPhone…

  • ZFDesign

    We fully support the issues raised in this article. Particularly liked:

    The iPhone is one of the most closed and proprietary products on the market. Apple has total control over what applications you can write, distribute and run. That’s their prerogative, but it grates against Steve’s call for an open web.

    Ultimately, Apple is protecting their business interests. They’re not consumer champions protecting users from Adobe evil.

    We believe if you are proclaiming free web you should not deliberately restricting access to popular technologies used on the Web.

    At ZDFesign Ltd. we will always stand by the HTML standards and accessibility.

    Thanks for the great article

  • Anonymous

    I find Apples products just a little over hyped, I would not mind an i pod, an i pad or an i mac, but i am not going to pay more money than it is worth, so I am in no way a mac fan boy.

    However I find Steve Job’s attitude towards the future of the web inspirational, lets say good bye to Flash as soon as possible. There are still some real world solutions that Flash alone can provide, but lets push the web to where it can be done without a third party plugin, that relies on one company.

  • Tijmen

    Seems like a new twist can be added to the story about Apple blocking Flash
    “Apple Policy Said to Prompt U.S. Antitrust Allegation by Adobe”

    • I had a feeling it would end up going in this direction but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly. Oh well…

  • Anonymous

    As a computer savvy user for years, I only really know about flash since I enter web development. Before that, flash for me is an unnoticeable part of the web without the “right click function”, and used to be appear in website like Youtube and websites that take forever to load.

    Next time, when put up a survey, go to wall street where the smart people are, they would say “I have no idea what flash is, maybe a new super hero movie?”(the resullt will be like the web browser survey they did earlier). In the other hand, Sitepoint is a place for developers, 49% of voters who want flash are flash developers who would be out of job ( or at least losing alot of money).

  • lemonizer5000

    This just in off the wire.
    Following Apple’s lead, Microsoft has just announced it will no longer allow applications developed on third party compilers to run on Windows 7.
    Only applications developed on pc based Windows versions of Microsoft Visual C, Microsoft Visual C# and Microsoft Visual Basic will be allowed to be installed on Windows 7.
    Come on people. If Microsoft made that announcement, the whole (developer) world would freak out and Balmer would be in front of a senate committee the next day.
    Whether flash is good, or bad, shouldn’t be the big issue. If Apple doesn’t want to support it, fine – the market will sort things out eventually.
    The big story in all of this that people are missing is that Adobe did build in a compiler to port a flash app to a native iphone app and Apple then came out and said that only applications developed with their sdk would be allowed to run on their hardware.
    So if you wish to create applications for the iPhone or iPad, as a developer you are essentially restricted to using an Apple computer, running an Apple OS and developing the app using Apple tools.
    Yes – I’m sure no one can create development tools better than Apple and that I will be so much better off not having to evaluate other innovative products that would have been created by other companies to help me created apps for the iPhone and iPad.

  • Ravi

    Oooooops! Steve, you forgot to mention that only Mac users can develop for iPhone. May be next time you will.

  • EastCoast

    If you’re convinced html5 makes for great interactive touchscreen experiences on Apple devices, in a superior way than flash would do, should have a look at this video which runs through a bunch of interactive html5 examples demonstrated on an ipad (most of them fail or run extremely slowly):

  • Aries Mars

    Apple has become an arrogant company.

  • Anonymouse

    Apple sucks

    …Yep that covers it.

  • KFC

    Here’s the big issue I see, I’m not going to be an apologist for adobe here, but I think it’s an issue of user and developer choice. Flash may well suck (which is up in the air) but as a user I should have the right to decide what runs on an otherwise general purpose computer. I can install things like tethering applications on my android phone, applications from outside of the market, I can flash a custom rom image by holding the power key and the send key while booting the phone.

    What I see as the big issue is you buy the device from apple (or AT&T) and you don’t own it.

  • PeteWJ

    I’m no Mac hater. There’s one on my desk, next to my Windows 7 laptop.

    I completely support Apple’s right to restrict whatever they want on their own systems. I’m a grown-up and I can make my own choice on what computer/phone/netbook I buy depending on my requirements at the time. If I want to buy a portable music player which I can play a few games on, I’ll buy a Touch. If I want a hand-held tablet on which I can fritter away my time on Farmville, I’ll probably get an Archos 9.

    At the end of the day, Apple and Adobe will survive entirely dependent on how consumers respond to their technologies. It doesn’t really matter how much our industry whinges about it either way.
    For example – presently, none of my clients would entertain having video served on their site in HTML5. Why? Because they’ll still need Flash as a backup to support the majority of their visitors. And because it will cost them twice as much to have that content served in both Flash and HTML5. And because they’re not in the business of promoting the latest web technologies, they just want to get their message to as many customers as possible. Web server stats for a client of mine showed that HTML5 video would reach 37.2% of their visitors, whilst Flash would reach 97.4%. It’s a no-brainer when faced with numbers like that.

    I’m not wanting to hold back progress. HTML5 is a wonderful progression and I’m enjoying playing with it. But I think it’s a little short-sighted of Apple to think that it will broadly provide an alternative to Flash in anywhere near the short-term, and I think that Steve Jobs’ justifications are just stretched a little bit too thinly. That said, Adobe is far from whiter than white and Flash has it’s own share of problems which need resolving – security, CPU-hogging etc.

    I can understand why Apple might not want Flash-generated apps in their App Store. I’m disappointed but I can understand their position, from a commercial perspective. Apple and Adobe fan-boys/girls can justify their various arguments in all manner of ways but, as professionals, surely our job is to lay out the options honestly and clearly to our clients and let them make the informed decisions that best suit their business?

    As an aside, I’m pretty confident I could write some Javascript that would tie up processor cycles and reduce battery life without a SWF in sight – but I don’t see Apple rushing to remove Javascript from their mobile browser. ;)