UPDATED: Adobe CEO Has His Own Reality Distortion Field

88 Comments

Updated: Adobe (s adbe) CEO Shantanu Narayen recently told Fox Business News in a video interview that he expects to see Flash on mobile phones in the second half of this year smartphones will come with Flash 10.1 preinstalled in the second half of 2010. What he didn’t say was that the original plan was to deliver Adobe Flash on webOS handsets in 2009, so it appears that the plans have changed. The concern is that with each passing day Flash isn’t available on a wide range of smartphone platforms, its relevance on handsets decreases, mainly due to Apple’s iPhone OS (s aapl). Below is the full video interview, although the conversation around Flash is mainly in the second half.

Watch the latest business video at video.foxbusiness.com

[digg=http://digg.com/software/Adobe_CEO_Has_His_Own_Reality_Distortion_Field]

Whether you agree with Apple’s steadfast refusal to allow Flash on its mobile devices, the lack of Flash doesn’t appear to be hurting Apple device sales. Even without Flash support, Apple recently reported it has sold a total of 50 million iPhones and in only a few days, 500,000 iPads, not to mention a vast number of iPod touch devices. Some consumers do refuse to buy a Flash-less Apple device, but I’d wager that they’re in the minority. Simply put: The lack of Flash on Apple hardware might hurt sales, but not in a meaningful way.

Making matters worse — if you’re Adobe or a fan of Flash, that is — major media outlets aren’t waiting around for Flash on handsets. YouTube began to transcode its video library to support Apple’s iPhone platform in June of 2007. In time for the recent iPad launch, the New York Times (s nyt) adjusted its web site to accommodate the H.264 video codec and HTML5, the still-evolving next generation web protocol that supports video playback without Adobe Flash. CBS (s cbs) is yet another standout example — the network was found testing HTML5 for playback of full television episodes. While it’s true that Flash is still widely used, and probably will be for some time to come, the tremors of a seismic shift away from Flash are now starting to be felt.

Flash faithful are quick to point out that the plug-in is installed on over 95 percent of all computers — with such a large footprint, how could Flash go away? The argument has little merit in this context, because the desktop world is different than the mobile world — a point that may be lost on Adobe. For example, in the Fox interview Narayen attempted to justify the need for Flash by saying it accounts for “70 percent of the casual gaming on the web.” That may be true, but in today’s smartphone app economy, it’s also largely irrelevant. Instead of playing casual games on the mobile web, developers are cranking out software titles and consumers are buying them — there are more than 50,000 games in Apple’s iTunes App Store alone.

Need another example of Adobe being out of touch? Narayen vaguely referenced his own video interview to justify his defense by saying, “[I]f I want to go to Fox Business News or watch a Fox show on my smartphone, I’m going to be capable of doing that on certain devices (with Flash) and not other devices.” While I wouldn’t expect Narayen to know which web sites use Adobe Flash and which don’t, it’s very telling that I watched and heard him say this just fine on my Apple iPad — without Flash.

The one potential saving grace for Adobe right now is Google’s Android (s goog) platform. It will be among the first mobile platforms to see Flash support and it’s the fastest-growing platform in terms of market share right now. A private beta of Flash 10.1 on Android is now complete and Android device owners can sign up to be notified for the public beta, although no specific time frame on when the beta will begin is available. If Adobe can convince content partners and developers not to abandon Flash just yet, while at the same time making quick progress towards stable Flash support for Android, there’s hope for Flash. Otherwise, the entire Apple vs. Adobe fight could end in a TKO as an expected new iPhone arrives this summer and even more Flash-less mobile devices hit consumer hands.

Update: I asked Adobe for clarification on Shantanu Narayen’s words on the Adobe Flash 10.1 delivery date and updated the post above accordingly. The official statement is of interest in terms of supported platforms and reads:

“Adobe is on track to make the full Flash Player available for first mobile platforms including Android before the end of the first half of 2010.  So, if you already own a recent Android device like the Nexus One, you will be able to download and install Flash Player yourself. Ultimately we expect the full Flash Player to be supported on a variety of mobile platforms including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone 7, webOS and others.”

I’ve asked Adobe specifically what platforms, other than Android, would see Flash 10.1 by the end of the first half of this year, but have not received an answer to that question as of yet. If I receive a response, I’ll provide another update to the post.

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88 Comments

Jim

I use Flex/Flash for development and the reason I like it is that I don’t have to worry much at all about what browser the user is using. With HTML (even version 5) and javascript, every browser renders things a little differently and has different extensions to javascript/HTML and supports the standards in different ways. With HTML/JS you start having to put in logic, if this browser, then do this, etc. which is a pain. Flash helps to insulate this from you.

Personally I’m tired of all the competing implementations of the features and standards that you have accomodate when developing application and web sites, it really gets in the way of development. The competition itself is a good thing in that it keeps everyone on their toes and inspires innovation, but having to accomodate all the different platforms is not so fun. You end up spending a huge amount of your time adding in logic to support each platform whether mobile or desktop instead of creating the actual application.

With Flash you can write an application once and have it run on many platforms correctly, with maybe a minor tweak or two. HTML5/JS, not so much.

Jürgen Messing

Your argument fails, unfortunately. You say that with Flash you don’t have to care about the specific browser issues, and you are absolutely right, they are a pain sometime, and yes, Flash addresses these issues very well. But sticking to Flash only means that you do not support the rapidly growing Mobile Safari browsers at all. And that’s, in my humble opinion, much more worse than just having pixel issues here and there. Question is how long you can afford this strategy without been noticeably hurt by a new emerging market that you then cannot address.

Develop once, deploy many has always been a fairy tale. I’d suggest to develop a core based on official standards technologies (Flash itself and some IE’s interpretation of HTML and CSS are exactly not that, a standard, they are just wide-spread) and adopt it to specific devices to fully leverage the device capabilities. This leads to the greatest user experience achievable. For example, CSS3 animations are GPU-accelerated on most iPhone devices and the iPad, but to leverage this, you as a developer must go that extra mile and support it.

Of course, you can join the choirs shouting at Steve Jobs and his hard position against Flash, or ignore that Apple’s mobile devices might gain an even bigger market share. But that is merely gambling and will put your own business at unnecessary risk.

Skaag Argonius

I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone, and probably will own an iPad very soon (as soon as I can buy the 3G model). I start with this because what I’m about to say goes very much against Steve’s ideas and philosophies, and against the ideas of the blind following sheep… With that said, I am extremely pissed off at Adobe for being idiots, and not getting off their asses. They should have, 1 year ago, hired a horde of gurus to make the Flash plugin the most optimized code in the history of mankind. Instead, they go head to head with Apple (lost battle to begin with).

So actually, and despite my disclaimer above, YOUR argument totally fails – It fails because you do not really mention any technology that can REALLY replace Flash for what it REALLY does. It pains me to see how much people don’t understand the issue at hand. Let me illustrate this with an example of something you can NOT do with HTML5:

  • Implement your own RTMP Protocol Stack, not in JavaScript, but in a faster, byte-compiled language! (AS3 is really very fast, compared to AS2!)
  • Open your very own set of TCP sockets (or even UDP), to some arbitrary hosts on the internet
  • Load balance between those sockets
  • Use this data to feed a video stream
  • Display UI elements above the Video, even another Video on top of the first Video (Picture in Picture), heck, do whatever you imagine is possible!
  • Allow anyone to use this functionality, on any platform! Linux, Mac, PC! Works right now! Especially within the Excellent Adobe Air environment

The only two technologies that allow this in a browser:
1) Adobe Flash – Easy to implement
2) Java – More complicated to do Video stuff, but still possible

However, Java is a mess with its gazillion versions, and Flash has way higher adoption rates than Java, not to mention the majority almost always have the latest version.

We do this with Flash right now. I am dying to do the same with HTML5 – If you know how to accomplish any of the above, let me know please! (And please don’t say Silverlight, We do not touch Microsoft crap).

The HTML5 Video element is not uniformly implemented. This is all nice technology, for next year or two. Adobe Flash is here right now, it’s widely deployed, it’s consistent, it’s easy to develop with/for, it’s flexible, and it’s very powerful. Like any language, programmers can make mistakes, and produce code which is unstable. There are lots of App Store Applications that crash, are heavy, etc. So what’s the point exactly…?!

What’s happening here, is politics, and money, on the backs of customers and innovation. The iPad and iPhone could have enjoyed amazing Real-Time Video capabilities thanks to Flash, with overlayed data. If Adobe would have moved their asses and made Flash Multi-Touch compatible, and allowed inputting data from GPS, Accelerometer and Compass, imagine the amazing things people would develop for the iPhone and iPad!

As always, we the customers, and we the developers, have to pay the price of these wars. We have to put up with crappy video streaming technology on the iPhone and iPad.

Jürgen Messing

Skaag, everything you say, though a little harsh, makes sense. But that means no iPad and iPhone customers for you. That’s okay with me, I don’t care. It take the extra effort to develop per platform to give my customers the best user experience on the device they have chosen. When they upload a video I convert them into different formats on the server to serve any browser I want to support. That’s what I owe my customers.

I don’t care about which technology is superior over another, better, more open-source, less walled-gardened, or what Steve Jobs likes or not. I made the decision to support the iPad amongst other platforms. So I choose HTML(5) because it is supported on all platforms, generally. And then I adapt. Means one core code basis, a second for iPad, another for Android, yet another for platform XYZ. Is this a hassle? Yes. Is this a lot of frekking work? Yes. Is it a mess to maintain? Yes.

And if there is a technology (you listed many) that is not supported by the platform, I don’t care, and more importantly, customer don’t care either. First I ask, do I need it to solve the problem at hand. Do I actually have a problem at hand? While you are crying what technology is not supported on this or that platform, I implement a workaround. Find a way to have a near-as-perfect user experience for that platform that does the job. Or I omit the feature or kick the project. If I should build a highrise and you give me nail and hammer, I cannot do it. But I don’t complain, I pick up another project, and build, for example, a beautiful cabin instead.

It is my job as a programmer to solve problems. That’s what I get paid for, not for whining.

Skaag Argonius

I am not whining – on the contrary. There are real problems that we are solving thanks to Flash, and you have not yet told me how you would solve them. That’s what I am really looking for – Solutions for REAL problems.

Here are the problems I am solving today, with Flash:

  • If a streaming server dies, the Player automatically switches to another one, without even bothering the user about it. I even do this without the user feeling that it even happened. That’s great service!
  • If the user’s bandwidth has changed during the stream playback, I automatically switch to the appropriate one (higher, or lower bit rates). I don’t see how this is possible with HTML5. Especially not “Smoothly” like I do it with Flash! (Again without the user noticing much, beyond the slightly degraded image quality).
  • I measure the user’s bandwidth, reliably, before they start to stream the video. They always get the bit-rate that matches best their connection type!
  • Users can see rich, live data, layered above the Video. How do you accomplish this with HTML5 on an iPad/iPhone?
  • The player reports buffering / disconnections to my servers. This is accumulated into a report, which the broadcaster gets. How do I achieve this? The HTML5 Video element provides NO such facilities!

And why are you assuming we are not supporting iPads/iPods? We are, and it works, but customers get a very poor experience that does not compare in any way to what customers get if they are on a platform which supports Flash, such as the Microsoft Tablets (yes they are shit, but hey, Flash is supported!).

Jake

Skaag | Jurgen

Could you two exchange phone numbers or perhaps meet in an empty field to finish this duel. You’re wasting valuable virtual real estate with your pissing contest.

You both win: both of yours is bigger.

Happy now?

Jürgen Messing

Skaag, I told you how I solve problems, please read my comment thouroughly. I already told you that before I ship something with a mediocre user experience, I’d rather drop the project and ship nothing. But before that, I’d try to address the problem and solve it platform-specific. I am not a friend of one-size-fits-all development approach.

And what do expect from me? You shove me over a list of problems you have to solve (they are not mine), and expect me to solve them for you at an instance? I am not doing this, of course, this is your job, which I already have told you in my last comment.

But to give you an idea of how I would address your project:
1. Build an app for the iPad/iPhone.
2. Wrap everything that’s possible with HTML5 on the iPad (for instance picture in picture is possible, streaming video is possible)
3. Find out whether I really need the technologies that you mention to solve the problem from a user experience perspective or if there is another way to accomplish this with iPad’s HTML5 capabilities. Here I am specially referring to this socket load-balancing feature. If you really need that, I mean, you should really revise your overall architecture and find a simpler solution (something I also won’t provide you at an instance in a comment).
4. Learn Objective-C and build the rest you as native iPad app.
5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 for any other platform you support.

Jürgen Messing

Hi Jake, you are welcome. Good recommendation. You are right, Skaag and me shouldn’t waste your real estate any longer and defer this conversation to somewhere else so we don’t bother you anymore, sorry for that.

And thanks about caring about my other capabilities, believe me, I never disappoint.

Skaag Argonius

Jürgen, I never said I disagree with you… and I resent having this thread considered a pissing contest. It is not.

I think it’s legitimate for me to complain about the lack of Flash on the iPod/iPhone/iPad, I certainly am not the first, and will not be the last to do this… right? :-)

So I do agree with you, and it is the path I am taking, but I am NOT happy about it.

I did read your comments carefully. Really. I know you said it’s not fun, it’s lots of work, etc.

I guess what pisses me off is this global, blind “agreement” with Steve Jobs. I am not saying you agree with him, just that I see it a lot, perhaps too much, and it frustrates me.

Remember we are of the same family ;-) There can be no hate, and no pissing contests between us.

So I apologize for venting steam on this thread. There :-)

Jürgen Messing

Skaag, that I am so heated in this conversation is because I fear that developers like you who have a legacy Flash project will stand there with empty hands eventually. So many complain, and I really would see them acting instead, because they will themselves do no good. For many, their business model might be at stake, and they don’t recognize. I just want to motivate other developers to get their heads up and see this, instead of shouting at Steve.

But as I understand now, it is your frustration, with which I fully emphasize (shouting at Steve, Yes!). Your are not happy about it? Welcome to the club!

We are all on big family, so true. I see Steve Jobs as the old grand-grandfather saying what goes and what not. Whether I like it or not. I am his grandchild. Or so.

Happy coding!

Skaag Argonius

What Adobe needs to realize:

1) There are no second chances
2) Small and large outfits alike, will never start new projects using Flash technologies, they will start directly with HTML5, SVG, etc.
3) They have the money, why not hire 20 of the best software gurus to deliver the goods next month?!

Adobe is acting stupid, and they will disappear.

YUvamani

The thing people forget is that Flash is not just all about web video which can be replaced by the video tag.

Flash is about animations, streaming video like amazon unbox, video conferencing like tokbox, rich applications like sliderocket, Casual games … etc etc.

I get irritated with my iPhone because I frequently have to hit the “puzzle box” .. Sure sometimes there are alternatives, but not always.
Take for example the video you embedded above, If you did not notice it was a flash embed …

Let me assume that this problem went away, What about the other applications ? You cannot get your farmville fix (i detest that game btw) on an iPhone today, Maybe they will do an app tomorrow, but isnt that annoying?

What about nytimes.com they run interesting infographics and interactives which are all flash …

I think consumers want flash, Right now it doesnt matter because there isn’t a decent mobile platform which runs flash (the HTC hero and Nokia N9* series ran flashlite)

Other things matter a lot too like getting a good looking reasonable phone in the carrier of their choosing.

But properly marketed , Flash can be a differentiator !

And BTW will not kill the Flash star …

YUvamani

And Kevin : Om should know this, The IPL semifinals and finals will be broadcasting on youtube.com/ipl . Have fun watching that on your iPad – NOT !

Kevin C. Tofel

YUvamani, I hate to ask this, but… did you read the article? ;)

You said: “Take for example the video you embedded above, If you did not notice it was a flash embed …” Not exactly. It may play in Flash for a device with Flash, but it also plays on my iPad. That’s where I watched it — see the screen cap. This plays to my point that content creators are hedging their bets. In fact, our video content delivery system for jkOnTheRun videos now detects Flash or Quicktime and provides the appropriate video format based on the requesting device’s capabilities.

You also said: “What about nytimes.com they run interesting infographics and interactives which are all flash …”

In the post, I wrote “In time for the recent iPad launch, the New York Times adjusted its web site to accommodate the H.264 video codec and HTML5, the still-evolving next generation web protocol that supports video playback without Adobe Flash. ” I’m looking at inline videos and infographics from the NYT website on my iPad without an issue.

Your other points are well taken, but I think you’ve skipped over some of the article in order to make your points.

Jake

I’m sick of the Flash drama.

If Apple creates a device (their device) and decides not to include a product from another organization that is their prerogative. It’s their product. And they alone decide the features.

I use Google Analytics each and every day – about 20% of each day. But it doesn’t work on my iPad – and I knew that when I ordered it. I’m waiting (somewhat impatiently) for the incredibly smart, profit-driven Google engineers to rework the display features so I can take my Analytics to the coffee shop to mull over with a cup of Earl Grey and some light jazz.

As for the new licensing ‘restrictions’, iPhone OS 4.0 will be an optional, probably paid, upgrade so current owners are free to decide whether they want those ‘restrictions’. Consumers are also free to make future purchase decisions based on the so-called-restrictions of a device manufacturer. If an end-user absolutely positively has-to-have Flash then they’ll opt for something other than an iPhone. To be honest I believe few consumers know, nor care, about licensing restrictions or the hoops a developer must go through to get their product to market. They want a product to “DO” things.

If a developer wants their product in front of the bajillions [sic] of iPhone users, they’ll adapt and use the tools required to compete in that market. Or choose a smaller, less populated market in which to peddle their wares. The choice is up to developers.

In reality, Flash is just not that important anymore. 15 years ago, when the web was young, Flash was revolutionary, compelling, and sometimes over-used. But, today, it’s a small widget in an ever-expanding box of tools available to designers and developers. Don’t get me wrong, Flash makes it dead-simple for novices to create interactive content and apps. But other products do the same thing – though with a higher (thankfully higher) knowledge-barrier to entry.

Adobe’s subversive coercion tactics are growing a bit thin. Actually, very thin. It’s not Adobe vs Apple. It’s developers vs a crowded market. The only folks with real skin in the game are developers who must decide how to focus their limited development energy.

Unfortunately, Adobe is afraid developers will choose the market with the greatest profit potential. Which does not include Flash. And that’s why Adobe is really grousing about this.

Hamranhansenhansen

The reason Adobe is out of touch is if they face reality they will have to admit that FlashPlayer killed Flash. That they made a terrible mistake by not participating in HTML5. Flash makes Web apps and always has. In the past they were HTML4 Web apps, including a plug-in. Now, they should be making HTML5 Web apps out of Flash, with no plug-in required because the Web is on too many platforms for that to work anymore.

Today they are admitting their iPhone app export is a dud. Yet HTML5 export out of Flash would make Web apps that do run on iPhone, without approvals.

The idea Adobe is promoting is that the World Wide Web won’t be able to play video. That is ridiculous in and of itself, but when you consider that mobiles and many PC GPU’s now have their own hardware ISO video players it is asinine to promote a proprietary software video player. You can put a video in a page with a single line of code, you don’t need Adobe to do that.

YUvamani

Performance of html5 on the iPhone is crap.

Its better than other platforms, but it pales badly when it compares to native apps. And if you have doubts use the google latitude webapp and compare that to iPhones maps.

Part of the reason apple is promoting it= :)

Nigel Tufnel

@MyOpinion: “50% battery life is proven where? Oh because the Lord Jobs says so? Please. Do you really think every other handset manufacturer would be putting Flash on their devices if this were the case?”

Well, the JooJoo was supposed to be the tablet that proved Jobs was wrong about Flash on mobile, that it works just fine and has no ill effects. But it doesn’t look like that went so well:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/05/fusion-garage-joojoo-review/

“First, it causes the entire tablet to get quite warm (especially when playing Flash video) and then it murders its battery life. The JooJoo’s integrated three-cell battery repeatedly lasted 2.5 hours (just as we predicted!) during our moderate use, which included surfing the Web and playing short videos. JooJoo claims you can get 5 hours if you avoid Flash entirely, but that sort of defeats the purpose, right?”

John Dowdell

Kevin, I was disappointed you originally ran this story so uncritically (Shantanu’s actual words were available, and they did not substantiate the headlines), but a day after the story has been officially debunked by Adobe Corporate, it’s even more disappointing that you haven’t yet updated your errant article.

jd/adobe

Kevin C. Tofel

John, thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate that you want to defend the company you work for — I’d expect no less. A few points.

I haven’t received nor have I seen any “official” debunking by Adobe. I’m hitting some links provided above by the readers now and I’m glad to update the post. If the debunking is that Adobe Flash 10.1 will indeed deliver in the first half of the year, I think most of us can agree that’s good news. But that’s not the story.

The story is that content creators are hedging their bets and offering video in both Flash and non-Flash formats. The story is that Flash on mobiles is unproven, and although choice is good for consumers, just getting Flash on mobiles won’t guarantee Flash’s continued dominance. The story is that Flash has been a boon to web apps and games, but we have yet to see how it will compete on mobiles given the focus on smartphone app stores. We can agree to have differing opinions on the story, but the story isn’t my opinion.

Again, I applaud your vigor here, but when we talk about the story, let’s talk about the whole story. I’ll update as soon as I find evidence to. In the future, Adobe might not want to wait so long to debunk — the video interview hit on April 13, various outlets wrote about Flash 10.1 delays, my post was written on April 18, pubbed on April 19 and the information is being questioned on the 20th. I’m easy to reach (kevin@gigaom.com) so any official PR to share or statements to refute something I’ve written are welcome at my email address. My goal isn’t to spread bad information — it’s to share news and promote discussion — so I will update shortly once I find the appropriate info. Thanks again.

koolereye

I think it is interesting that a lot of people assume that just because Google will be supporting Flash in their devices that this will suddenly turn the tide for Adobe. Granted, it will help but Google is also geared towards furthering HTML5 which will ultimately benefit them more in the long run than Flash will. Google wants to support Flash so various websites can still be viewable on their products now but their development will be around HTML5 so as to create a truly web-based/browser-based device. People my decry Apple for not supporting Flash but in not doing so they have sped up the development process for HTML5 to a level that most folks could not have imagined. Flash will be around for quite some time as desktops/laptops are not going away but the method of accessing the internet has gone from static device with huge resources to mobile device with limited resources. As the HTML5 matures, people will be able to do more and better things and not be dependent upon a third party plug-in in order to deliver content on a desktop or a mobile device. I personally think that Google will support Flash as a courtesy to current websites but in the long run I think their goal is to run their services through HTML5 (or variant) without relying on whether someone else’s plug-in is up to speed or not in order to provide the best web experience.

Evan

Really? I mean, REALLY? Are you that anti-Apple in your inverted fanboyism that you would gladly use a device that gets 50% of the battery life because you have the choice to watch your favorite Justin Bieber videos in Flash?

MyOpinion

50% battery life is proven where? Oh because the Lord Jobs says so? Please. Do you really think every other handset manufacturer would be putting Flash on their devices if this were the case?

It’s interesting that you used the word “choice”. This is not a concept Apple believes in. They dictate what apps can be sold in their store (the only official way to get apps on their devices), they dictate which tools/technologies developers must use to build apps for their devices and they dictate what kind of content may be displayed on their devices even though they profess to have the best web browsing experience known to man. When you can’t access 70% of the content on the web this is the best experience?

Consumers SHOULD have choice. They should not be forced to buy an App for content that is freely available on the web. Apple’s stance against Flash (and other technologies – Silverlight, Java, etc) has everything to do with their desire to protect App store revenues and lock consumers into their closed hardware/distribution platforms and NOTHING to do with technology.

Ken

Can’t access 70% of the content on the web? 70% of websites are designed using Flash??? I’ve been using the iPod Touch (basically an iPhone without the phone) for over a year now and the number of times I’ve been stymied from viewing a website due to the lack of Flash I could count on one hand. Missed out on a few ads, yes, but that’s about it. Even most of the video content I come across can easily be viewed on the iPhone.

As a web designer myself, I rarely feel the need to reach for Flash anymore, as HMTL, CSS, javascript & php (or a similar language) pretty much covers most of my needs. And all of those run on the iPhone just fine.

As for the App Store comments, what on earth are you talking about? “They should not be forced to buy an App for content that is freely available on the web” First off, if I want to view content freely available on the web on my iPod Touch, I just launch Safari or Opera on the iPhone and view it. Second, half the apps in the App Store ARE free. Third, the quality experience most of the apps I have paid for provides far exceeds the website experience, even with Flash. These are, after all, fully developed software programs we’re talking about, not versions of already existing websites.

And last, consumers do have a choice. They can go with Android or something similar, if they wish.

vimo

Kevin, please stop writing provocative and sensationalist articles to gather readership. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. A commenter blow “MyOpinion” wrote a balanced post of perspectives on Flash and I see that you have no reply to him/her. Why? You should be ashamed of lousy work you do. People like you are viruses of content creation. My opinion of GigaOm went down. How did this joker get to write for GigaOm?

Kevin C. Tofel

Vimo, I’ve only just now seen and responded to the comment you mentioned. I appreciate your desire to offer me job performance feedback — drop me a note with your work address and I’d be happy to reciprocate. ;)

Jürgen Messing

Ouch. For God’s sake this is only a comment on the Web. If you were in the same room with Kevin you might have accidentally stabbed him. The post you refer to is really excellent and very balanced. Your comment lacks all of this. Just wanted to let you know.

Keed

Developers buy their software in order to develop Flash applications. The more devices that support Flash the more viable it is as a platform and therefore Adobe sells more software to developers.

Yes, Flash is a money maker for Adobe.

MyOpinion

Uh no – http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2010/04/everyone_is_get.html.

I’ll save you the mouse click and paste the specific details: Adobe has confirmed for InformationWeek that it is in fact on schedule. Adobe spokesperson Stefan Offermann told InformationWeek via email, “Adobe is still on track making Flash Player 10.1 for first mobile platforms including Android available before the end of the first half of 2010.”

Relying on AppleInsider for accurate info on this topic is akin to relying Fox News for unbiased coverage of the Obama administration…

SleepDawg

You do realize that the AppleInsider article was quoting Engadget’s piece on Narayen’s interview on Fox, right? There’s a link in the story, if you missed it. The CEO says outright, “second half”. Realizing the implication later, an Adobe “spokesperson” delivers a different statement in the InfoWeek quote. Not exactly reliable, “I know WTF is going on” behavior from a CEO.

jbelkin

Agree. Flash served its purpose when people wanted games at work and websites needed a container for video but like animated GIF’s, that time is past. What’s also not addressed is part of this is the shabby way Adobe treated its ‘customer-end user’ with a constant stream of updates (with no apparent additional usefulness); Adobe readily admits its products are insecure and even its biggest fans admit it’s a resource and CPU hog. And when confronted with its technical shortcomings of only being able to respond to mouse controls (and not finger or multi-touch), Adobe’s only response is to call Apple names … and its defenders don’t seem to notice they are advocating a proprietary $2,499 suite of programming apps versus the ‘open’ Objective C and HTML5. Adobe is like Paris Hilton claiming people are mean to her. THe real lesson here is when you are arrogant, treat your customers shabbily ($499 upgrades that take 4 years to be available), annoy your end users with constant pointless upgrades, then ultimately you pay the price – when people can abandon you, they will. Adobe will continue to exist and Flash will continue just like there are still millions of IE 6 users but like IE 6 users, no one will really care about the Real player-AOL-Flash-IE 6 audience in a year or 2 … still alive but irrelevant.

MyOpinion

I beg disagree with several of your points so I’ll take them one by one:

Issue #1 “Flash served its purpose when people wanted games at work and websites needed a container for video but like animated GIF’s, that time is past.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Flash has an incredibly vibrant ecosystem and MANY companies both large and small are investing significant dollars in Flash – everything from video distribution for premium content (MLB.com, ESPN360, Hulu, Comcast, Amazon VoD, etc. – none of these will be easily replaced with HTML5 due to content protection issues I mentioned above) to RIA’s to games to interactive experiences. Beyond video, many companies are leveraging Flash as the platform of choice for Rich Internet Applications. Overall Flash/Flex has significant market share for RIA and Flash/Flex developers are some of the most in demand resources in IT today. With regard to mobile, Adobe’s Open Screen Project (openscreenproject.org) has brought together over 70 partners across mobile device manufacturers, chip manufacturers and content owners/producers with the single goal of bringing Flash to the spectrum of non-PC devices including smart phones, tablets, netbooks, TV’s, set top boxes and other web enabled devices. Out of the top 20 mobile phone makers, 19 of them are involved in the OSP, this includes Google, RIM, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, HTC and even Microsoft. The only holdout from the top 20 is Apple. The point being is that major players across the broader mobile ecosystem are standing behind Flash and are betting big on its long term success. In the next month or two consumers will start to see the fruits of this effort as new device come to market with the full Flash/web experience enabled.

Issue #2 – “What’s also not addressed is part of this is the shabby way Adobe treated its ‘customer-end user’ with a constant stream of updates (with no apparent additional usefulness).” Adobe issues updates to Flash for several reasons, most notably enhanced security and new features. To state that these things have “no apparent additional usefulness” is both disingenuous and entirely inaccurate. Security – the fact of life is that ALL software has issues with security, especially applications that are used across the web. Adobe is no more unique with it’s security challenges than any other organization that builds software. I get requests to update all kinds of applications all – Firefox, IE, Windows, Office, iTunes, Java, Webcam software, etc. Again this is the fact of life in the internet age. I will concede that Adobe has been a target of hackers lately, but that is mostly based on the ubiquity of their software – like it or not hackers want to target platforms with the widest reach. Overall I think they have made positive steps to be transparent in their security efforts and responsive to issues when the arise. Regarding features, Adobe has also been very actively adding all kinds of enhancements to Flash many of which may not be obvious or apparent to consumers but they do have significant usefulness. Case in point – Adobe introduced dynamic streaming which allows the seamless delivery of video even when your bandwidth drops without breaking the user experience (i.e. having to reload the video). Overall there are too many features that have been added to Flash to list here but you should do some homework before making such uninformed assertions.

Issue #3 “… and its defenders don’t seem to notice they are advocating a proprietary $2,499 suite of programming apps versus the ‘open’ Objective C and HTML5”. The fact of the matter is that the SWF specification (the underlying format used by Flash) is published and open therefore any third party is free to write to SWF and many do. Furthermore, the Flex SDK which allows you to build Flash applications is open source (flex.org). The reality is that you can build Flash apps without paying a single dime to Adobe. Flash is often chastised for being proprietary because Flash Player (the runtime) is not open source. Adobe has many very good reasons for not open sourcing the player – these include preventing fragmentation (the promise of Flash is to write once, run anywhere) that occurred with Java once it went entirely open source. The other issues involve 3rd party code that Adobe licenses for use in Flash Player that cannot be open sourced (because the 3rd parties won’t allow it). Overall if you want a good/quick overview on Adobe’s open efforts I encourage you to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNzrn8-JFSE. Last point on this is that AIR (the sister runtime to Flash Player for standalone apps) includes Webkit which enables developers to build AIR apps entirely in HTML/JS/CSS/AJAX which again allows you to leverage Adobe’s runtimes (for free) without using a single Adobe tool. I challenge you to find other software companies of Adobe’s stature that have gone to the same lengths Adobe has to allow developers to use their core infrastructure (runtimes) without a dependency on buying their software.

Overall I think Adobe has gotten a bum rap with the whole Flash/iPhone/iPad debate and much of the issues are not accurately reflected in the press/bloggisphere. I wish Adobe was more vocal about the truth’s around the criticisms people are levying against them, but they have chosen to take the high road in most instances. That’s the nature of their company and I commend them for it.

MyOpinion

First Point – Adobe confirmed that Flash 10.1 WILL be available before the end of the first half of 2010 (as reported by several other blogs/news outlets – Google it if you don’t believe me). Bloggers such as yourself have taken Narayen’s comments entirely out of context. The fact that Adobe announced the pending public beta’s is further proof that these mobile runtimes will be available sooner than later – companies generally don’t go forward with public betas until they are close to completing the dev cycles. With a release as strategically important as Flash 10.1 and AIR2 mobile, Adobe would not release these for public beta if they weren’t close to being ready otherwise it would just invite more Jobs’ driven rhetoric that Flash is a resource hog, performs badly, etc.

Second Point – HTML5 will not be able to replace Flash in its entirety for quite some time, if ever. Case in point, the HTML5 spec (still in draft BTW and not adopted as a standard) does not specify video codec – it is purely a tag in HTML to deliver video. Several browser vendors (Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, etc) have rallied around H.264 which is not royalty free (IP owned by MPEGLA) while others (FireFox) are moving toward OggTheora (Open Source). If there is not a single ‘standard’ video codec there will still be browser fragmentation which will be solved by Flash. A further point around video, which is rarely mentioned by the ‘HTML5 will solve all problems’ contingent, has to do with DRM. Like it or not, premium content providers (read TV/movie studios) will not deliver content using HTML5 as there is no way to protect the content from piracy. This is precisely why Hulu has not delivered their content in HTML5 and their possible entry on the iPad/iPhone will be through a paid app – not web/browser delivery.

Third Point – Flash is more than video. It is a full runtime that allows for Rich Internet Applications, casual games and other experience that while in some instances are technically ‘possible’ to build in HTML/JS/CSS are not economically feasible to do so and in some instance not doable at all.

Overall I expect that once Flash IS available on Android, WebOS, RIM, WinMo7, etc. (most expected this year, some earlier than others) consumers will take a different view of Apple’s devices. Once real choice is out there, consumers will see what they have been missing and they will choose (with their wallets) to experience the full web, not some hobbled version that only fills Apple’s coffers through App Store purchases. Like or not, Flash is a huge part of the web today and will be so for the foreseeable future.

Kevin C. Tofel

All excellent points and I recommend that folks read your detailed argument for Flash. As far as the timing of Flash 10.1, it was originally expected on webOS last year, but that didn’t happen. That could be due to Palm even more than Adobe, however.

We’re about 10 weeks from the mid-point of this year, so we’ll see if Adobe delivers. I anticipate Android support to carry more weight than other platforms — webOS is on the ropes and BlackBerry devices could be tricky to use for Flash games and such, depending on trackball/trackpad support. I only say that because most of RIM’s handsets do not support touchscreens.

You’re absolutely correct that Flash is more than video. I focus on video because from a mobile perspective, Flash apps have to compete with established app stores that already offer a high number of titles.

Regardless of our differing opinions — excellent and lucid points. Again, I recommend that folks read them. Thx!

Ivan

Came here expecting an article, and it looks like all I found was more drool from an apple fanboy.

Last time I checked there was this thing called Android that was supported by the Open Handset Alliance which totally does support Flash (just to start). So I don’t think it’s relevance “decreases” one bit.

Kevin C. Tofel

I think my fanboi status was revoked when I dumped the iPhone for Google Nexus One in January, but thanks for thinking I was back in the club. ;)

Regardless of the OHA and Android support, one of the main points of the article was that content producers are beginning to shift away from Flash. It’s great if Adobe gets Flash on Android, but ultimately, if content creators aren’t using Flash as much or any longer, what’s the big win from Adobe’s point of view?

jcunwired

The demise of Adobe and Flash is still very, very premature, given widespread use on the web, its introduction to mobile devices later this year (Blackberry and, ahem, WebOS as well as Android), and the potential cost of transitioning 95% or more web content to HTML5 in the beginning of an economic upturn. Jobs may wish, in all his manipulations, for it not to be true, but the future for Adobe is not as dim as naysayers would wish us to believe.

Anders

The fact is that the vast majority of web pages are designed with desktop or laptop users in mind. Hence, I think the mobile platforms that will offer desktop experience are the ones coming out on the winning side of this. I actually plan to purchase the HP slate just because it offers the desktop experience of the web.

Yes, the desktop world is different than the mobile world, but perhaps not much longer.

Kevin C. Tofel

Totally understand the rationale for your potential HP Slate purchase. I’ve bought three UMPCs in the past, of which the HP Slate is simply an evolutionary next iteration, and the devices have served me well.

But I’m wondering about this thought: “…the vast majority of web pages are designed with desktop or laptop users in mind.”

I’m not disputing the statement, but smartphone sales are due to surpass desktop and laptop sales within the next few years. If the mobile market is growing faster, do you think web developers will continue to create websites for desktop or laptop users at the same pace they do today? I don’t think so, but of course, that’s arguable.

Anders

I’m not sure, my impression is that mobile browsers become more and more like desktop browsers in all aspects but screen size. Besides, within the next few years most smartphones are likely to have flash support, with the possible exception of Iphones. I think this will actually be very interesting to follow, because I’m not sure Apple is big enough to kill flash alone. Already now Apple is facing increased competition in the smartphone market, and there are analysts who believe their market share has already peaked.

And it seems most people had no real beef against flash until Steve Jobs started his crusade:

http://www.google.se/insights/search/#q=%22flash%20is%20dead%22&cmpt=q

HereAndNow

I recently installed FlashBlock plug-ins for Google Chrome and Firefox. They are amazing!

  • pages load faster.
  • you don’t waste unnecessary CPU cycles, battery, etc., on Flash content.
  • if you want to see the Flash content, you just click on it.

If websites were to offer HTML5 by default, with Flash as a backup, they could potentially kill two birds with one stone:

  1. iPhone/iPad support.
  2. FlashBlock circumvention.

Personally, I have no problem seeing ads. I just don’t want Flash ads bogging down my system.

Bastian Nutzinger

Exactly my thoughts. I have refused to install a AdBlocker for many years now seeing that websites need the ads to survive. But the ads get more ridicoulus by the minute with minigames and automatically played videos and what not eating cpu time and subsequently battery life to no end. I have now installed a flash blocker. I really didn’t have any other choice.
The day Flash dies I will be dancing on it’s grave.

paul Knight

overcooked elaborate flash ads are exactly the model for the kind of iAds Apple are encouraging developers to build into Apps. It seems its not the ads themselves that Apple wants to save us from, they want them written with their code, not Adobe’s!

lotech

@paul Knight.
Apple doesn’t own HTML5. Apple is merely one company thats throwing its weight behind a completely open standard.
Now if only Flash was open then this would actually be a valid argument.

Mike

I’m defiantly with Adobe on this. I think consumer needs to see that in the coming summer when people are using other tablets and smart phones that loading the web in full and faster than the iPhone and iPad people will make the vote as Shantanu said with their wallets.

Just the other day my wife was in class and her and her classmate were trying to load their grades on their phones. She has the HTC Hero with Sprint and her classmate the iPhone. in just a moment my wife had logged into the school’s servers and pulled up her grades and her classmate was still trying to load the initial page on her iPhone.

So wither you’re a tech head like myself or a simple user the difference is clear. I’m planing to purchase the HP Slate & the HTC Evo this summer and that’s where my dollars will go.

  • Mike
    theBrokenApple.com
Kevin C. Tofel

Mike, as a current Android device owner (that signed up for the Flash 10.1 beta) and with three Windows-based UMPCs in my stable of devices, I see where you’re coming from. In fact, your purchase plans hedge the bet quite well since you’ll be covered no matter happens to Flash. Smart move from a consumer point of view.

Bastian Nutzinger

So what does that mean?
Your wife is priviliged to some early dev release of flash?
Have I missed something?

What exactly was responsible for the iPhone beeing unable to render the page? I highly doubt it was flash

Tim

50 million iPhones, 500,000 iPads? After all the Apple overhype? Underwhelming really. At the same time, just netbooks alone, 30 million last year. And 90 million Windows 7 copies sold in just a few months of its shipment. Machines that can run Flash is different than the the iPhone OS iToys- Flash-capable devices, there a whole lot more of them. And here comes Android. And Flash is bundled in the Google Chrome browser downloads, by the way. I know, Apple, you’re happy to continue be the iTrinket of choice of your usual niche, affluent fans living in the Steve Jobs’ Walled Garden Reality Distortion Field.

Tom

Geez Tim, did you miss the whole point of the article? The point was the mobile platform is different than the desktop one, so using desktop numbers to support flash dominance is wrong. You must be caught in Narayen’s distortion field. Every example you gave was for the desktop.

Bastian Nutzinger

Well this is really an Apples to oranges comparison.
But i’ll play along.
If the iPad sold 500K units in one week in one country alone how many will there be sold if:
– 1 year passes?
– The much anticipated 3G models will be available?
– The iPad will be available internationally?
I think it is not entirely imposibble, that the iPad alone will sell 30M units given a year internationally. That would make it by far the most dominant single platform in the UMPC space. Even if Apple “only” sells half that many units the iPad would claim that title easily.

And even if they get nowhere close theese numbers. As i wrote before Apple doesn’t have to dominate the market to obliterate Flashs standing as a standard. 10% Market share is plenty enough.

Bastian Nutzinger

@Mike:
Actually no.
I don’t think Apple is actually going to sell 30M units/year I’m just saying its not entirely impossible.
A very (very) simple calculation:
A year has 52 weeks. If Apple would continue to sell 500K units / week that would amount to: 26M / year.
Of course it’s unlikely that Apple will sell that many units every week. After the initial rush it is to be expected that sales numbers drop. On the other hand: there is still a international release pending which will without doubt drastically increase sales numbers and we still don’t have any numbers on the iPad 3G yet. I think this could even out the drop from the initial figures resulting in average sales figures of 500K /week again.
This is of course just guesswork and i want to stress that im not predicting any actual sales numbers just trying to give a sense of scale.
So, yeah: 30M / year is possible (although unlikely)

Tim

With its availability in a whole lot of devices, in netbooks, Windows machines, and use in many sites, Flash dominance is not going away soon, whatever Apple wants. As more people get smartphones, they want the same rich multimedia experience. The availability of Flash in the deluge of Android handsets, extends that experience.

David C

The problem with flash on mobile is that user interfaces aren’t standard. On PCs, everyone has a keyboard and mouse. On mobile platforms, you have so many different interfaces, how do you account for each? Some have keyboards, some are fully touch based, some have trackballs. Granted, most people want flash mainly to watch videos, but everyday that they delay the release is another day that major websites will be moving over to HTML 5.

It doesn’t surprise me that Adobe has delayed the release. It’s a very difficult problem to solve. In the end, I doubt that flash will gain much acceptance on mobile. Adobe simply missed the boat in this one.

Bastian Nutzinger

Yes indeed it is an insanely difficult problem.
And it is an unsolvable problem by design. Supposed you get all the neccessary coding done to make every possible flash app work beatifully fast and realiable on every mobile handset (which in itself is a almost impossible task) there is still the design problem. Any application written on this Cross-Platform framework will have to adhere to the lowest common demoninator. Have one handset that doesn’t support GPS? well no GPS for your app. Have one handset that doesn’t support multitasking? No multitasking for your app. And even if you can design around theese problems your applikation will never feel native to any of the handsets because your app can only have one design but there are many different design guidelines for the different handhelds.

jamEs

Oh muffin. Do you do this to every RSS feed that has an opinion you don’t agree with?

gbp

Kevin, flash on mobile makes sense. Skyfire browser on WinMo can do it from server side.The quality was not great, but it gave complete web experience. Do we have the apps on iPhone/BB/Android …. platforms that cover the millions of websites ? I highly doubt. With mobile flash, the existing content can be used without the need to rewrite the website code. However the transition to HTML5 will take more than five years. So we have no choice but use flash.

Kevin C. Tofel

Why does Flash on mobiles make sense? Feeling that we have no choice but use Flash isn’t an answer to that question. ;)

Yes, you’re correct to point out all of the Flash content out there today. But my point is that content producers are already beginning to move away from Flash because they’re looking to the future while Adobe is attempting to get to the present on mobiles.

kelvin8048

I’m not sure if an average person who is non tech-savvy is concern with complete web experience or are they more concern with complete app experience? The success of iPhone or even Android-based phone may mean the later.

Bastian Nutzinger

Well for a content provider the choice essentially boils down to this:
Have videos in flash on some devices or have video in html5 on any device?
The only reason why not every video is available in html5 right now is historical, meaning: every new video service will probably have html5 from the beginning and everybody who uses flash nowadays will eventually switch to html5 sooner then later.
What often gets overlooked is the simple fact, that you don’t need a majority/monopoly to render a standard useless. A standard only remains a standard as long as 100% of all devices support it. 90% and it’s not a standard anymore.

OpZition

Precisely, HTML5 will slaughter Adobe, it’s just a matter of time.

Stimpson

“everybody who uses flash nowadays will eventually switch to html5”

Not if they’re an animator.

Bastian Nutzinger

Why not?
SVG (+SMIL) could replace Flash vector graphics animation (if that is the kind of animation you refer to) and afaik its part of html5

srw

Adobe must build its own mobile phone to compete, the hardware control times returned until a generic [pc like] mobile phone appear.

Bastian Nutzinger

There won’t ever be such a thing as a “generic [pc like] mobile phone”. The hardware/software tie in has far to many benefits over the generic approach (for the vast majority of casual users, not for the professionals).
In fact I strongly believe that instead of the generic coming to the mobile world it is far more likely that the “Apple way” will dominate the desktop world sooner or later

srw

Do you mean in less than five, ten years? at that time multitouch, gpu/cpu, hd will be commodities. Do you remember the zillion of home computers in the 80s?

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