Steve Jobs: “Users Aren’t Missing Much Video” Without Flash

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs has published an essay titled “thoughts on Flash” on the company’s website today, lashing out against Adobe and its “100% proprietary” products. Much of the missive is repeating well-known arguments in the feud between the two companies, but it’s worth noting that video is playing a central role in the piece, which is supposed to justify why Apple doesn’t allow Flash on its iPad and iPhone devices. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads.”

Jobs goes on to mention a number of video publishers ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Fox News who already support Flash-free video delivery for Apple’s devices, only to conclude that “iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.” He also bashes Adobe for not having been able to roll out Flash for mobile devices sooner.

One of the most curious arguments in Jobs’ article is that not using Flash helps to achieve longer battery life. Jobs argues that batteries last much longer if video decoding is supported by a device’s hardware. Again, from the article:

“The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.”

He goes on to argue that many devices have been optimized to decode H.264 video, and that Flash only recently started to support H.264, resulting in many still serving video with an older codec. Jobs doesn’t specify which sites he is talking about — big sites like YouTube and Facebook have been using Flash with H.264 for a while now — and he also doesn’t mention the fact that Apple only this month allowed Adobe to support hardware decoding for Flash under OS X 10.6.

However, it seems like this part of his rant is really written with someone else in mind: Google is going to open source its VP8 video codec at its Google I/O event next month, and Jobs just let them know that he won’t accept a new format without a fight.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson.

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