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

Apple (s AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs has published an essay titled “thoughts on Flash” on the company’s website today, lashing out against Adobe (s ADBE) 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 (s GOOG) to Netflix (s NFLX) to Fox News (s NWS) 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.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: What Does the Future Hold For Browsers? (subscription required)

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

  1. Bottom line is that flash kills the iPad’s battery which is why they’re blocking it. Anything else coming out of Job’s mouth on that matter is hogwash IMO.

  2. Gary Phillips

    Whether Steve admits it or not, lack of access to Flash is a major PITA on the iPad. I’m surprised how many sites I end up on that require Flash.

  3. How about everything else flash does besides just video, Steve? I guess all that stuff just doesn’t matter. . . or why bring it up because many sites (like stock sites) use flash for so much more than just video and why haven’t you make H.264 “open source?” Honestly, is it so hard to work with another company to make something work better and then give the user the option to turn it on or off?

    Things like this will keep me far away from Apple products. Good luck Steve in going it alone.

    • you don’t seem to understand it all that other stuff that if Apple lets Adobe control, then Apple’s future would be tied to Adobe making updates to its software.

      If Apple added a feature to the iPhone for example to detect ambient light for example, no developer could use that feature until Adobe updated its tools to allow the developer to use it. If Adobe doesn’t do that for two years then Apple would suffer.

      Only Adobe controls Flash and its development tools. Its not an open product.

  4. Chancey Mathews

    From Jobs’ post: “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.” What painful experience is he talking about?

    • When Quark refused to move to OS X, it set back Apple sales of Mac Pros for almost two years.

      But Apple would be stupid to hand over developer control on its products to Adobe or anybody else. Would you do that?

      Would you allow someone else to control your future. Apple would be completely dependent on Adobe to update Flash and its dev tools so that developers could take advantage of new hardware or software features that Apple introduced into its products.

      No one would allow that to happen.

      Why do you think when countries buy US weapon systems they write into the contracts that they will have to right to develop parts for what they are buying, otherwise they would be dependent on the US for parts when they have a conflict. Its a similar situation.

      • Seshadri

        I don’t believe Steve jobs when he says that Adobe would be controlling development platform and developers if flash is allowed. What he is saying is that he wants complete control and will not tolerate competition.
        Now, there can be always competition, if Apple so wishes. Nothing will stop Apple from competing with Adobe if it so desires on the iPhone, iPod and the iPad. It is just that competition costs money and opportunity if it can be squashed in whatever form and means possible, it should be done and this is exactly what Apple is doing and Steve Jobs is blaming Adobe for defects in code, late time to matket and other alibis to cover himself up. Hollow arguments I must say. Apple is not exactly on the horizons of technology and innovation as in always. They get there sometimes and others do at other times. So is it with Adobe.

        If you have your sights on the whole pie, blaming others is a good excuse to try and make a grab. That is all matters and there could be to it.

  5. Talk about a hypocrite. Half that thing was about supporting open standards and so then he’ll go on to fight an open standard for a proprietary one? Keep suckling on the tit, fanboys.