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Flash Co-creator: Apple Is Destroying the Open Web

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Flash Co-creator and former Macromedia CTO Jonathan Gay is disappointed that the media is letting Steve Jobs trash Adobe’s (s ADBE) Flash as a closed platform while Apple (s AAPL) is at the same time advocating for H.264 and a closed app environment that doesn’t support and cross-platform development. Gay, who left Adobe in 2005, told Cold Hard Flash in a lengthy but very interesting interview (hat tip to Flashstreamworks) that Jobs’ attacks could be a sign for many partners and customers asking Apple to support Flash on its devices. He also said that Apple’s anti-Flash stance is not about openness at all. From the interview:

“Apple wants to displace Flash’s role in video delivery on the Web with the H.264 standard and Apple wants developers to build custom applications for the iPhone and not cross platform applications. Both of these goals support Apple’s business goals driving their closed iPhone application platform but are destructive to openness on the web.”

Apple isn’t the only one criticized by Gay. He also has some choice words for the MPEG LA consortium that’s overseeing the licensing of H.264. Macromedia didn’t have enough money to license H.264 in its early days, according to Gay, which is why they had to settle for a codec made by On2. Again, from the interview:

“The H.264 license fee model is very anticompetitive. H.264 licensing is free for very small users, expensive for medium size companies and inexpensive for very large companies.”

However, Gay is skeptical that Google’s (s GOOG) plans to open-source its VP8 video codec will be able to fundamentally change this situation, cautioning that it may be impossible to build open-source codecs that don’t infringe on someone’s patents.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: A Brighter Week Ahead for Flash (subscription required)

20 Responses to “Flash Co-creator: Apple Is Destroying the Open Web”

  1. Virtuous

    Adobe is destroying the open web by insisting that every device run Flash. Websites that require Flash are also destroying the open web.

  2. Donna

    I tried flash blocker and ended up having to always wonder what I’m missing out of, whether it is an advert or a video or a small web application. It was so annoying so instead I prefer just ignoring the ads.

  3. Scottix

    I believe Apple is doing both. Here are the facts;
    Yes Apple is pushing Open Standard HTML 5 – Open
    Yes Apple is pushing for H.264 – Semi-Open until 2015
    Yes Apple is pushing for non-flash – Semi-Open
    Yes Apple is pushing for Apps – Closed

    What Roettgers is talking about, is that fighting against Flash benefits his products. Flash is not just video, and I agree using is sparingly is better. I challenge you to create a game or cartoon as easily with flash as you can with JS. I would really like to see that.

  4. FreeRange

    What a crock! The adobe techtards are spinning themselves a web that they won’t be able to escape. First, Apple insists that the iPhone apps be native apps. This has nothing to do with cross-platform. This is about providing the best consumer experience and that will be accomplished best by native apps. The adobe camp spin is absolute BS.

    Also, Apple is all about “openness on the web” despite what this clown says. They are pushing open standards, not Adobe’s closed, proprietary crapware flash platform. The market will respond – in fact is responding faster than anyone would have thought, in adopting open standards for video delivery – Netflix, youtube, major networks, etc. etc. etc. Also, the platform is very open – ANYONE can develop on it!

  5. Adobe…lemme think back to how they greedily attack design students for outrageous software pricing. It is insane!

    Though Apple isn’t thinking right here. They are only frustrating their cusotmers.

  6. @Mike Cerm
    “However, since Google has already built Flash into Chrome, as well as H.264 for HTML5 video, I don’t think Google is planning to strong-arm the world into adopting VP8.”

    Building Flash into Chrome and H.264 are not the same at all. Flash is a Multimedia use player. H.264 is a ‘codec.'(Closed) Building Flash into Chrome helps keep web users to keep up to date with the latest Flash Player for performance and stability reasons. Supporting H.264 is needed because of the content, why wouldn’t they support it? Firefox cannot support H.264 because they are open source and believe in only using open source software in their browser. HTML is Not even close and has long before its standards are ‘final,’ meaning H.264 is not the standard in HTML video. Google may or may not open source a codec, but they certainly will consider it since their profits is based on advertising, not charging on codecs.

  7. @Eideard

    You sound like an arrogant biased person with your uninteresting comments. I for one agree with Apple keep ‘talking’ because they are feeling the pressure. I mean if Flash is so bad at performance then let the Healthy competition take them out with better software instead of ignoring and building fences around their little platform.(Reminds me of the nonsense American way of building a giant fence around our stupid borders) I enjoy Flashblock, to only block the ads that abuse flash other than that I enjoy flash. I have a choice to what I want to use. I don’t see Bill Gates blocking products from making their presence on Windows. Apple is not Open, they fail on the desktop arena with Microsoft and PC builders. They will fail in the mobile with Google’s rivaling software.

    • Albert


      So you say that healthy competition should be sought against Flash rather than building walls. Isn’t that what Apple is advocating by pushing for open standards with HTML5? Then you talk about the stupidity of building walls, yet proclaim that your use of walls with Flashblock is more justified because you obviously use it judiciously.

      So your decisions are correct and others are incorrect based on whether you agree with them. Then you complain about desktop systems, which neither Windows, Linux, MacOSX or any other OS limit. All the mobile OS platforms have limits of some sort.

  8. Mike Cerm

    Google owns YouTube, so if they want to make open-source VP8 and make it the dominant codec for video on the web, they can pretty much do that without anyone else’s help. Everyone, including Apple would have to get on-board, because if Apple’s customers suddenly couldn’t watch YouTube on their iPhones and iPads, there would be a revolt.

    However, since Google has already built Flash into Chrome, as well as H.264 for HTML5 video, I don’t think Google is planning to strong-arm the world into adopting VP8.

  9. The day I discovered Flashblock for Firefox was one of the happiest days in my internet life. When people are making specific programs to block your protocol, something has gone seriously wrong along the way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad, but for every frame I unblock, there are countless others I’m glad to be rid of.