Steve Jobs Labels Adobe’s Flash a Dying Technology, But Is It?

52 Comments

Steve Jobs has been bad-mouthing Adobe’s Flash once again, according to a recent Business Insider report. The Apple head honcho recently visited the Wall Street Journal to demonstrate the iPad. During his stay he allegedly criticized Adobe’s (s adbe) Flash technology, with the intent to move the popular broadsheet newspaper away from using the web display technology.

The report details that Apple’s CEO attempted to convince the Journal by downplaying Flash, describing it as a “CPU hog” that has “security holes.” He then added that Apple (s aapl) does not “spend a lot of energy on old technology” comparing Flash to other dead technologies, including Floppies, Firewire and even the humble CD. This continued dislike for Flash comes after Jobs downplayed Adobe’s technology at a town hall meeting with Apple employees earlier this month.

But could the typically forward-thinking Steve Jobs, and in turn Apple, be acting too quickly in disregarding Flash? It’s commonly accepted that Adobe’s Flash does not run as effectively on Mac platforms as it does on Windows, with Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch even accepting that there are some problems. However, due to Flash’s widespread adoption, it seems that labeling it as a dead technology now is a premature move.

The iPad’s widely reported lack of Flash means you can’t watch your favorite shows on Hulu, crop your corn on FarmVille or watch the latest video on the New York Times. Of course these are just a few examples of what a future without Flash would be like. But with hundreds of thousands of web sites playing host to flash content, it could be years before Apple’s desire becomes reality and a move away from the format is seen. So what alternatives could Apple be hoping to replace Adobe’s prevalent plugin with?

HTML5 is the immediately obvious choice for replacing Flash, with Apple itself already using it. But as TheNextWeb points out, the technology is not quite ready yet, with a number of issues holding it back. Currently only a few browsers support it, and full integration is not in sight. Feedback from early experiments have also not been overly positive, with users of YouTube’s HTML5 demo claiming it to be unsatisfactory and slow.

Beyond HTML5, Apple is also known for its love affair with the H.264 video standard. The video compression format is what makes YouTube work on your iPhone, and is also integrated into QuickTime. However due to hefty licensing rules imposed by MPEG-LA, the standard is not going to become mainstream anytime soon.

So, with other standards not quite ready to step up to the mark and Flash not disappearing anytime soon, it seems that Jobs’ campaign of hate will have to remain just that, purely vocal. It seems that iPhone and future iPad users will just have to get used to those blue Lego bricks.

52 Comments

PR

Flash its not dying because its the best plataform/framework for rich media designed until now. The flash replacement needs the birth of next big tool for webdesigners, video publishers and so on.

Matt

Do you not think that HTML5 is that next big tool? Admittedly it’s not quite up to scratch right now, but it’s not going to take long. Maybe 2-3 years, 5 at the absolute outside to get up to par with current Flash abilities – and that’s without anywhere near the resource footprint of Flash.

Matt

Flash is a poor performer, but it is capable of some quite stunning graphics. I personally suspect Steve’s anti-flashism is a mixture of a couple of things: 1. He doesn’t like it, knows it runs poorly and has security holes so doesn’t want it on his signature devices, and 2. he’s trying to shoulder Flash off the face of the internet using the leverage of the iPhone and iPad for the reasons above and because Flash represents a potential way for developers to avoid the app store.

The arguments above about Flash games not working with a touch screen interface are irrelevant – Flash games for the iPhone and iPad would be designed for a touch screen interface and so would probably be fine, notwithstanding the inherent flaws in the code base.

Flash isn’t dead, however if both Apple and Google are moving away from it then you can be sure that it’s now an endangered species. There’s no reason that HTML5, although it isn’t quite up to speed yet, won’t be a perfectly suitable alternative within a couple of years. Furthermore, Hulu is developing an iPhone/iPad app (http://db.tidbits.com/article/10991). Why wouldn’t they? They know Apple won’t budge on Flash, and they’re shooting themselves in the foot if they continue to ignore a massive potential market. Once Hulu is i-capable, that will be the biggest pro-Flash argument dead in the water.

So, Edward Imbier – what we’ll do in the meantime is see a gradual transition from Flash to HTML5 as one begins to deprecate and the other gains capability and market share. It’s not like turning off a light – Flash will be around whether we like it or not until no more browsers support it.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of iPhones and things – Joel – on what evidence do you base your statement that Android is going to surpass the iPhone “on its sole merit as a better platform to use and develop on”, when by the widely advertised statistic Flash is just 1% of the web (and most of that is just adverts). Surpass in what aspect? The Android store is growing at a much slower rate than the iPhone app store, Android phones are selling much slower than iPhones (despite there being at least 4 currently selling phones running Android vs 2 models of iPhone) and there’s no cohesive market strategy for Android.
And more to the point, since when are phone sales driven by developers? What complete rubbish. Phone sales are driven by consumers, the overwhelming majority of whom couldn’t give a flying **** what language wrote the games on it or whether they could access flash content on the web.

Hell, I’m not even a fanboy and I can see that this whole “Flash will bring down the i-whatever” is pure drivel.

And dead? No! Marked for extinction? Almost certainly. Remember, Flash isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s just a format. Sure, it works, and it has its advantages. Anyone remember Betamax? CD+R? HD-DVD? We’re at the beginning of a format war, and that’s almost always decided by the big players, and Adobe is not a big player when compared to Apple and Google.

tom

I hear a constant rumble from mac users how flash crashes but I can’t remember experiencing such a crash. Of course, I use a pc.

I can’t wait for flash on my android phone

Jon Henshaw

Like Firefox, Flash doesn’t run well on Mac, and never has. But I’ve used both on Windows, and agree, that both run very well and are snappy!

It’s actually more about poor performance than crashing. That’s why Chrome for Mac, and the Flash blocking extension for Chrome, make it such an enjoyable surfing experience.

But there’s so many other reason to despise Flash. It really depends on where you’re coming from. Personally, I like “open” Web standards and have been waiting for AJAX, canvas, SVG and HTML5 to take their rightful place for quite some time.

PulSamsara

If any reader doesn’t understand the REAL reason Jobs doesn’t want flash on Apple mobile devices you’re either sophomoric, naive or just plain stupid.

Apple can’t control the distribution or sale of flash. Simple. Period. Done.

Edward Imbier

Flash is widely used today. Sure, in a few years HTML5 videos will be in place. Stem cells may cure diabetes someday, but what will we do in the meantime?

Sadie

As much as I want to be able to access certain websites that use Flash on my iPhone, I’m inclined to agree that Flash (strictly as a technology) has become slow and outmoded. However, I also strongly suspect that Jobs’ insistence on crippling Flash on key Apple devices has as much to do with what I see as typical Apple snobbery as a purported concern for user experience.

Jon Henshaw

We avoid Flash like a vengeance. Flash is definitely not the future…it’s the painful past. Which is why we made sure the graphing system we chose and customized for Raven Internet Marketing Tools uses AJAX and canvas.

I’m definitely in the camp of people that uses a Flash blocker on Chrome and Firefox, and my computer and browser thank me for it. Not to mention, Flash is the anti-SEO (regardless of what people try to tell you.)

encoder

are you out of your mind or you are just doing viral marketing???

AJAX acronym = asynchronous JavaScript and XML, IT’s the painful past. asynchronous was used by java applets, JavaScript and XML are 20 years old, and i don’t thing you have any portfolio to back up your claims, because you are just a marketing tool.

Jafar

Your website is sorta boring, maybe you should add some flash to it…

Tom M

Flash isn’t dead yet, but, the demise of Flash is a very good idea whose time has come. First, I’d love to see the end of Flash abuse–animated ads, and annoyingly slow welcome pages to promotional websites. Second, maybe the vision and hope of an alternative to Flash will accelerate development of a good HTML5 alternative. Think much of the use of Flash today is simply a solution to provide video without all the DRM hassles, anyway. There are plenty of better options now for developing good web user interfaces without forcing hapless users thru Flash plug-in updates often.

Jameskatt

H.264 is already paid for by the web-browser creator.

Website developers do not have to pay the H.264 owners to create H.264 content. Users don’t have to pay to view H.264 content.

AGAIN: H.264 is already paid for by the web-brower creator. This means Apple paid for it to create Safari. Google paid for it to create Chrome. And Mozilla paid for it to create Firefox. Users and content creates do not have to pay for it.

Thus, it costs nothing to display your video in H.264 format.

rrtzmd

…hmmm…yeah, and I seem to recall Steve said no one reads anymore…Amazon’s Kindle success suggests otherwise…

robinson

Flash? Good riddance! I have Click to Flash installed and it really helps the browsing experience… removes those animated ads, the visual distraction.

I’ve used an iPod Touch for browsing for over a year now and haven’t missed Flash at all.

cb alyn

I just installed Click To Flash (rentzsch.github.com/clicktoflash) on my MacBookPro. I can selectively allow flash to play on any site I visit.
My MP is faster and most importantly it is not as hot as it used to be.

Tom

The article is using, what – second, third, forth hand quotes of quotes of quotes?

What Jobs said or didnt say isn’t widely known. There are no proper quote marks on what was said, because it wasn’t on record, it was done in private. Business Insider seems to have stepped past the line of speculation into something… well, something else.

Google just finished the On2 acquisition. It now owns the On2 codec (ooh, which Adobe currently uses for their H.264, right?). HTML5 video codecs could get a shake up pretty soon.

RNKLN

“However, due to Flash’s widespread adoption, it seems that labeling it as a dead technology now is a premature move.”

Wasn’t the same true for other technologies, such as floppy disks, when Apple decided to abandon them? And how long did it take from then on for those technologies to actually die?

Scott Rose

Flash sucks. That’s all anybody needs to know. Flash also discriminates against any human that has a disability. Read all about it on flashsucks.org

Dongo

I have flash turned off and I don’t miss anything. Last time I turned it on, it used up 30% CPU according to activity monitor. Flash drains my batteries and makes my computer hot and loud (fan noise). I hope it dies really soon.

MacGuy

Jobs is quoted to have said that Flash is an OLD technology, not a “dead” one as you seem to claim. But with the influence that Apple exerts, you can count on Flash getting to the point of “dying” so long as they continue to refuse to include it in their products. It will leave open a wide market of devices without flash and therefore encourage web developers to make the appropriate changes. Flash is old, that much is a fact.

Saw

Let me pull some facts from Secunia.

Adobe Flash Player 10.x:
25 Vulnerabilities

Its rival Microsoft Silverlight 3.x:
0 Vulnerabilities (Yes, ZERO)

So, Yes, Flash is buggy.

LIM

Flash may be buggy and a CPU hog but I think there may be another reason why Apple ban Flash from its iPhone and iPad. You can build simple games and applications in Flash and delivers through web-broswer. Imagine playing Flash games and using Flashing applications on the iPhone Safari, Apple will have no control over them. This I believe this is something Apple do not want to see but cannot admit directly.

Victor

As was said earlier… These Flash apps you speak of are going to be entirely useless unless they’re specifically designed for touch devices. Go play a flash game and when you’re don’t try to figure out how you would be able to use it with out a mouse or keyboard.

encoder

80% of click based games work without the 20min optimisation for touch devices. the rest needs additional input, like rollover, …

the perfect tool for gaming will still remain the Windows PC doesn’t matter if web or desktop. even consoles are having trouble macing that.

Ken

I don’t think Apple has anything to worry about from Flash games, which are really quite basic and don’t compare to well designed iPhone games (independent of the whole interface argument).

Flash on the new iMacs runs fine. No crashes and speed is fine. But there’s no question that Flash causes my laptop to run hot and drain the battery. I’d hate to have that happen to my phone.

So I agree with Apple’s decision.

Dimitrius

I was under the impression that developers could develop for the iphone and ipod touch without going through the app store. Is it not true, that before the app store, developers could only run application via the web. At the time everybody complained about not having a SDK. Go figure.

Glenn

It ain’t going to disappear anytime soon and on the ipad that will be a glowing frustration for users, you’re not holding the internet in your hand, you only able to hold 99% of it, the other 1% is flash and you can’t view that.

Its one thing to say its crap, can’t do etc but Apple should tell us what they are going to help replace it. I don’t care but I will care when I visit a website and have to view the content on another device just to see ALL the content.

Simon

Besides the fact that Flash crashes almost daily, and it eats my CPU like chocolate, it is NOT a web standard, how would you plan to use it on a touchscreen device? Flash is used for video, games, ads, ads websites and other things, most of them require you to hover over something with a mouse cursor to get an extra menu, playback controls, and control the game. How do you do that with a finger? You could touch it once to act as a hover, but what if you can also “click” there, then what do you do?

Many websites, games and other things also require the use of a keyboard to control the character for instance, the only problem is that the keyboard takes up a good majority of the screen on the ipad and iPhone. There are many other little things that just won’t work on a touchscreen device, without super fancy combinations of gestures and taps to do things that a general user will not figure out.

Flash on a touchscren device has major usability concerns. Apple would get a lot of customers wondering how to do this and that. I think that Apple could provide a way to play Flash video themselves, but everything won’t work. I think Apple made a good decision to leave Flash off of the iPhone OS.

Joel

Steve Jobs need a good ole dose of STFU. You can’t run farmville on an iPad , but it sure looks like there’s a thick layer of snobville being applied to the apple platform. Apple is suffering from a case of forgetting their roots. I remember a time (not all that long ago,) when the only REAL reason to own a mac was to get at Adobe Photoshop. They were otherwise fairly useless to the development and productivity crowd.

As a developer (flash, python, & other including iPhone,) I don’t want to be told what I can and can’t run on an operating system. Apple will be learning this sore lesson in the coming months when the droid surpasses the iPhone on its sole merit as a better platform to use and develop on for that very reason. They’ll also discover this fact when they find that their projected sales for the iPad are in the proverbial bathroom trashcan (sorry ladies, couldn’t resist.)

As a Mac User (I own 4 thank you,) I REALLY don’t want to hear about flash as a dead technology when there is NOTHING out there to properly compete with either it’s level of sophistication or its market share. If Apple were able to pull it’s head from its ass it would see that using a open source scripting language based on popular scripting standards (instead of an antiquated C variant,) is what DEVELOPERS want. DEVELOPERS (not Steve Jobs,) dictate what is and isn’t usable for end-users in the real world. So Steve, while I enjoy your computer products, you’re losing this fan-boy with your big fat mouth.

Don’t believe me? Bye-Bye iPhone… Hello Droid…. Cancelled my crap at&t account on Saturday and couldn’t be happier with my new phone… Apple, remember your roots, and humble yourself, or your developer base will do it for you…. Peace.. I’m out!

encoder

what developer base??
those LMAO 200k

it is the age of platform variety (flash, unity,…), the age where html and other old school standards will fall.

Dan

I regularly use a Flash-blocker on my browsers whenever possible. So, I’m no fan of Flash.

But, besides the fact that Flash is a CPU Hog on the Mac, I think Apple’s move to not support Flash is also a business decision as well. If you think about it, they are kind of forcing developers to produce Objective-C / iTunes App-Store versions of their software (games, etc.) if developers want to have a presence on the iPad/iPhone. They’d lose a lot of control if anyone could make a Flash app on random websites.

dtnick

It’s not dying, but given Flash Player crashed on me 8 times today…

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