Blog Post

The day Apple won the Flash fight

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Adobe (s adbe) announced its new Flash Media Server 4.5 late Thursday afternoon, and it’s an iteration Apple (s AAPL) device owners should be very happy about. For the first time, Flash Media Server now enables same-source video delivery to both Apple devices and Adobe Flash-compatible destinations. Basically, Adobe is acknowledging Apple has won when it comes to Flash.

The new version of Flash Media Server will repackage content automatically for Apple’s mobile products, which lack Flash support, and implement HTTP Dynamic Streaming or HTTP Live Streaming, both of which are compatible with iOS. In theory, that should allow iOS to have its cake and eat it too, meaning future Flash content will playback on iOS devices, without the slowdowns and battery drain that are part of what made the technology unappealing to Apple to begin with.

Basically, Adobe is making changes to Flash Media Server in order to once again make it an appealing option for video publishers, by serving their actual needs instead of struggling with Apple in an unproductive either/or relationship. It’s something Adobe has been doing across its product lineup lately, with its Flex and Flash Builder tools for apps, and also with the Adobe Digital Publishing suite for digital magazine publications.

Adobe will continue to offer Flash, of course, but this is a clear acknowledgement that different solutions are necessary for the growing category of mobile video, which is dominated by Apple devices. Apple called this future, refused to waver, and now Adobe is wisely bending in response in order to remain relevant. While this is incontestably a win for Apple, it’s also a big step forward for Adobe, since now content producers and publishers won’t have to look elsewhere in order to serve the entire mobile market.

140 Responses to “The day Apple won the Flash fight”

  1. WTF?
    1) Flash is not just a video player, it is a platform for rich internet applications (including video players and games)
    2) Adobe has never been fighting against HTML, learn more about Adobe products

  2. Man I hate apple fans. Makes me regret all my apple purchases when they can’t shut up. You’d think apple paid them. I mean, who is this ‘bones’ guy who can spend so much time and effort defining and articulating his argument to, really, no one. What hold does apple have on you? Why do you care so much. Have you no jobs? Family? Who has time for this kind of unpaid, thankless commitment?

  3. Actually, HTML5 won, Apple just bet on HTML5. And the reason is not whether iOS could play video streams or not, the reason is that Flash is not searchable and HTML5 is. So already there is a decline in Flash jobs in the states as the industry is moving towards HTML5. Adobe is just following the industry, not bowing to Apple :)

    • iPad behind? In what way? Consumers are voting with their purchases, and they’re saying you’re wrong. Tablets, and mobile devices in general, aren’t really about specs anymore, it’s about the experience, and what’s easy to use. No one is running AfterEffects on their iPad or Xoom, if your tablet needs more RAM to run better, then that means it’s running an inferior software stack.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      That’s crazy talk.

      Even if there were such a thing as one Android platform, which there is not, iOS still has twice the installed base, twice as many apps, all the good apps, all the profits, all the best-selling devices, and they are the largest publicly-traded company in the world right now, worth $5 billion more than Exxon.

      No matter how you try to overstate Apple’s position of dominance in the markets they compete in right now, it cannot be overstated. There has never been anything like this. Apple has absolutely nothing to fear. The next thing on the horizon for Apple is HP and Acer exiting the PC business and LG and Sony exiting the phone business. Ooh, Apple better be scared!

  4. I don’t see a better way then using Adobe Flex to quickly build a good looking application that runs on Mac, PC, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry… All on the same code base.

    Flash and all its offshoot technologies might get a bad rap because they are too easy to use, luring amateur developers who think HTML and CSS is hard. So naturally people are going to blame Flash for being accessible to programmers who don’t know what they’re doing and write crappy battery draining software. It’s like giving a kid a sword. Flash is powerful!

    In the right hands, Flash, AIR, and Flex can create wonderful apps with way shorter dev time than iOS or Android, and app can go in any app store with zero changes. I’ve used all of the above to deploy apps. Give all three a shot and you’ll be convinced or save yourself the pain and start with Adobe Flash Builder. There is no easier way to get into mobile development.

    Oh and who writes articles like these? There is a serious lack of understanding about technology here.

    • Adobe Flash is the 2005-2010 version of Java.
      Instead of “Write Once, Debug Everywhere”, It’s “Write Once, Run’s Like a Slug Everywhere”.
      Different Devices have Different UI’s. Unless a specific port is natively optimised for that device, it will always offer a sub-standard experience.
      If you expect your users to be happy using a non-native app, you must have very little respect for them.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      > I don’t see a better way then using Adobe Flex to
      > quickly build a good looking application that runs
      > on Mac, PC, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry… All
      > on the same code base.


      All of those devices run HTML5 out-of-the-box. It is very easy to build multiple interfaces for a Web app. It is very easy to be compatible even with a feature phone.

      If you want to deploy to App Store or Android Market or whatever the BlackBerry version is called, there are many frameworks you can use to wrap your single HTML5 app in an iOS, Android, or BlackBerry app.

      There are also JavaScript libraries that help Flash/Flex developers get into the browser. For example, EaselJS gives you a Flash-like stage that is displayed in an HTML5 canvas.

      When every device on the planet can run a standardized Web app out-of-the-box, it doesn’t make sense to make nonstandard, proprietary Web apps that don’t run universally.

  5. This post is laughable to anyone with even a small amount of experience in the products mentioned. With the support of iOS by Flash Media server, Apple has not “won a war” and I can’t see how Adobe has lost anything ceither. Basically Apple users have won with access to more content and content producers that deliver using the server have won because they can target more users. Now is there a wannabe journalist list somewhere I can add to author to? Provocative headlines are one thing but the body of this post is beyond FUD, it’s pure rubbish.

  6. So why is this a win-lose situation? Seems getting Flash running on iOS is a win for everybody, especially the consumer. Framing it as a “fight” or a “war” makes it sound like people had their egos involved. Oops … uh … hmmmm … Ignore that last sentence.

  7. Zach Pennington

    Is this limited to delivering non-Flash media to mobile devices, or any web client?

    On my primary machines (Macs) I’ve removed Flash and if I need to view video content that requires it, I keep Chrome around for that purpose, and for the 2% of the time I need to review a site or use a feature that someone’s coded only in Flash.

    • It sounds like Adobe is just keying off of a machine-type identifier in the HTTP header to determine that it’s an iOS machine.

      Flash-free streaming is important for far more machines than just iOS. Apple is no longer shipping Flash with OS X, and many Android machines don’t come with Flash installed.

      Maybe Adobe can set up their servers to recognize some sort of cookie on the browser to give us Flash-free media content (AND Flash-free webpages). I hereby nominate the cookie-id HELL-NO-FLASH-MUST-GO as the flag for Adobe to use. ;-)

      • I don’t know, @salvodan. I just find myself agreeing strongly with gruber’s commentary on

        “This is the wrong approach for video publishers to take, though. They should be sending HTML5/H.264 video to any user agent that supports it, and only falling back to Flash Player for user agents that don’t support HTML5 and H.264. Flash Player should be the fallback exception, not the other way around. E.g., a factory-fresh Mac running Safari could be supported the same way iOS devices are, but instead, FMS will insist on using Flash Player, and instead of being shown video, the user will be told to go install Flash Player.”

        If Adobe’s priority was to look out for the user, this is the exact strategy they should take. But Adobe has different priorities: they still haven’t given up the ghost with Flash.

  8. Justin Lewis

    This story is not about Adobe vs Apple and the death of flash. Trust me, you’re painting this as the deathblow dealt by Apple but it’s a better story than that!

    This is actually about Flash Media Server catching up with the competition, namely Wowza media server. Wowza has managed iOS HLS streaming for a while and has been a deal breaker for FMS. This feature is overdue in FMS and helps tip things back in it’s favour a little. Last time I looked FMS has one very cool feature that shades Wowza a little now, namely live stream DVR. It lets you jump backwards and pause a live stream. Now with HTTP streaming and live stream DVR FMS is up on cool features.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      You can stream video to iOS devices from a standard free Web server using only typical free Web development tools. About 75% of the Flash video on the Web is already adapted for iPad in this way.

      So Adobe is not just catching up to Wowza, they are catching up to everyone. They are catching up to Apple assertion that it is very easy for Web publishers to move to standardized video streaming because Flash already uses standardized video files. The video file is the same. It is easier to send just the video file than to wrap it in Flash first.

  9. But this only covers iOS devices.

    I would love it if websites would serve HTTP streams to Safari on my Mac when it sees that I don’t have Flash installed, rather than asking me to install Flash. I don’t want to switch over to Chrome, and I don’t want to change my user agent string to masquerade as an iOS device because I’ll be served the mobile variant of the website.

    I would prefer to keep my Mac Flash-free and still use Safari.

    No doubt this is a great step in the right direction, but the Flash fight won’t be won unless we’re never asked to install Flash ever again.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      There are some things you can do to go Flash-free on Mac.

      Spoof an iPad:
      • in Safari Preferences, under Advanced, check “Show Develop menu …”
      • on the newly-showing Develop Menu, choose Develop > User Agent > Safari iOS 4.3.3 iPad
      • your page reloads, showing the iPad version of the page
      • the window remains “an iPad” until you close it
      • new windows will go back to identifying themselves as a Mac

      Safari Extensions:
      • there is a “YouTube 5” Safari extension that replaces FlashPlayer instances with HTML5 video player instances showing the same MPEG4 file … not just in YouTube but also Vimeo and others
      • also an “HTML5 Audio” extension that does the same as above for many common Flash-based audio players

      • Chrome has an integrated FlashPlayer, so you can use Safari-without-Flash as your browser, and then use Chrome as your FlashPlayer when there is no other way … the advantage is when Chrome is not running, Flash is not running

      All of the above assume you would disable your system-wide FlashPlayer in “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/”. The best way is to create the folder “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins (Disabled)/” and drag FlashPlayer into there. That way you can get it back easily by just dragging it back to “Internet Plug-Ins”.

      • Yep, I’ve done all of that, but we shouldn’t have to. Websites should always use HTTP streaming when the browser can handle it, and fall back to Flash otherwise. A worse solution (but still acceptable) would be to start with Flash and fall back to HTTP streaming if Flash isn’t installed. My browser supports HTTP streams, so why should I be asked to install Flash just to play video?

  10. Why do so many of these stories have to be framed in a, “Apple slayed the dragon!” fashion?

    “Apple called this future, refused to waver, and now Adobe is wisely bending in response in order to remain relevant.”

    Is Apple also fleet of foot and a fellow of infinite jest?

    Guys: It’s a phone. It’s not love.

  11. All due respect, this is the day Apple won:

    Today’s announcement is just a follow-on to that. Adobe has admitted that Flash is not right for everyone and everything. It’s not trying to keep it as a standard development platform for basic web functionality since it has lost that battle.

    Ironically, today’s “news” is not really news at all. It does help those few sites that have insisted on serving web video as Flash — an abomination of resource use given Flash was really never intended as a video container. But video serving can easily be done without Flash.

    The part that’s more indispensable are the countless web site that still have Flash elements in them and the site owners can’t afford to rebuild them on open standards or choose not to. They’re becoming part of the highly invisible web as no iOS device can access them nor can a ton (most?) of Android phones >currently in use< (since they aren't running Flash).

    No one is going to miss Flash video. But getting the other billion pieces of Flash code migrated to HTML 5 (not including the ads as no one is going to miss those) will still take years.

    • Yours is the most knowledgable and perceptive of the comments here today. Flash code on the web is like all the space-junk in orbit around our planet: it will take years to clear it all out.

      I keep hoping for the day that one of the car companies makes their webpage completely flash-free. Once it becomes “cool” for a car manufacturer to have a Flash-free automobile site, all the other manufacturers should soon follow.

      SInce I have click-to-flash plugins installed on all my browsers, I will miss Flash advertisements. Currently, I get nothing but a blank rectangle for all of those ads. Alas, at some point in time the advertisers will finally figure out that Flash advertising is getting blocked by waaaaay too many users to continue to use it.

  12. Computer Guru

    Complete fanboy drivel and nonsense. PLEASE stop pushing the RAH RAH RAH APPLE total BS mentality…the exact same crap filled with lies such as, ‘Macs don’t get viruses!’ (no, only the very first one EVER…and thousands since!); ‘Mac hardware is SO much better than standard PC’s!’ (until APple decided that PC hardware really WAS better and switched processors, memory, motherboards, etc to PC hardware) and on and on it goes.

    If you like Apple, that’s fine. However, they are NOT the leader in smartphones right now, far more apps have bee written for other phones, more smartphones that are non-Apple exist, and face the damned facts for once in your lame blogosphere half-life: Flash is the King of the road, completely dominating the online video world for many, many years now. And like several other obviously knowledgeable posters correctly pointed out, Flash Video is about 1/10th of Flash’s overall capability.

    It’s a damned good thing that Steve Jobs finally left Apple for good, he has been holding them back for years now with his paranoid BS for new product development. My only hope is that Apple somehow wisely lures the Woz back into circulation at Apple HQ and allow him free reign to do some REAL innovative R&D once again.

    Oh, and FYI….<—-Mac user since 1985. 2 Apple desktops and 1 iMac in the house ATM….alongside about a dozen Windows, FreeBSD and Linux based PC's as well. My point is, I know Apple, and it ain't the only game in town. An NO, Apple did NOT 'win', as others astutely pointed out, the end users won.

    Period. Get over it and start reporting FACTS not fanboi BS.

    • Thomas Beck

      why should the block it?? video is now streamed using HTML5 from the server to the client, not requiring a Flash player on the consuming device. this is *exactly* what Apple has wanted all along! or can you name one example where Apple blocked HTML 5 video?

  13. How is this a win for Apple? I consider this more of a win for Apple device owners. Not Apple itself. Apple has refused Flash and has been fighting for HTML5. Apple device owners have been clamoring for some flash content since the beginning. If anything, I call this a win for Adobe and Apple users.

    John B.

  14. So how did they actually won that Flash fight? Read it like Adobe cares for its clients while Apple dont gives a crap. If Adobe didnt do that i-users still would be behind all the rest that has ability to use flash without a problem.
    Apple fanboys are funny though – “we won” :D Yeah you won because third party company took a good care of you.

    And seriously – people still think flash is used just for playing movies? Ignorance is bliss, they say…

    • @twitcher, Apple released the iPhone in 2007. Virtually all would agree the behavior of Flash on handhelds was a No Pass until at least 2010; many would argue that it’s still a No Pass. Check out the August 31, 2010 blog entry here: . How would putting a badly broken implementation of Flash on its iPhones in 2007 possibly have been of service to Apple’s customers?

      There have been all sorts of intermediary services (, iSwiffer, etc.) available to iOS customers for years. Some of them work far better than Ryan’s Android “direct” experience above: the stream-translating servers are cognizant of the screen resolution of the handheld device and they have sufficient computational power to decode the Flash stream on the fly. As others have noted in the comment stream, it’s a no-brainer for Adobe to offer this service; their streaming service competitors have already been doing it.

      Do you understand that accessibility and Adobe Flash are mutually incompatible? Adobe has done absolutely nothing to make Flash work with accessibility adapters. They don’t even give lip service to the problem. This was the most important reason Jobs cited for keeping Flash off of iOS devices in his “Thoughts on Flash” memo. As far as I can tell, few of teh Flash-advocates ever read Jobs’s memo, and fewer still understood what it meant.

      Here’s the million-dollar question: If Flash fails for accessibility, how do we make the web accessible? Apple sacrificed the short-term convenience of Flash on their handhelds for the long-term goal of an accessible web. That is the course we’ve been on for the last four years. Adobe’s shift from proprietary Flash protocols to open protocols for streaming data is a small-but-significant victory on the path towards a Flash-free web.

      Nobody ever said that Flash was just for streaming media. Did you chase the link in the original article for the Flex and Flash builder tools — tools that will generate iOS and Android apps from Flash/Flex source code? If developers have exemplary Flash code, this is an excellent way to distribute it. Alas: as you note, ignorance is bliss. Many Flash developers seem ignorant that they can make their Flash apps available to the quarter-billion iOS devices by using these tools.
      Many of the participants in this discussion seem to be ignorant of this tool, too.

      • @Stock: you should contact the company making your charting software and ask them to package it as an iPad app.

        @twitcher is right. This particular software has no impact on your need. But the iOS App packager software released earlier in this summer should do the trick — as long as the author of your code will use it to make an iOS version of his Flash code.

  15. Metaphor time:

    Adobe built a highway (Flash) the fits a car (video). Apple comes along and says I don’t like the highway and even though everyone is in cars, I’m going to make a skinny highway (iOS) only big enough for a bicycle (other video) and your fat cars can’t fit on it.

    Lots of people like Apples highway and there are all these bicycles going on it, while all the cars are still using Adobe’s highway. The car manufacturers are jumping through hoops to get their cars on Apples highway because people like that highway, even though it’s a pain in the neck for them to change everything suddenly to do it.

    Adobe finds a way to make a car fit on the little Apple highway too so now cars can go anywhere, along with the bicycles.

    Everyone travels along. Hardly think the Car is dying out since it can also have a trunk and hold more people and do many more things, but now also fit on Apples little highway too.

    Hardly a loss for Adobe to me. Sensationalist headline is all.

    • Cristofer

      Highway should be the web. Adobe built trailers to make deliveries. Apple thought a trailer was unwieldy so it used cars for deliveries. Since Apple only accepts deliveries from cars, other companies were also compelled to use cars instead of trailers.

      Now Adobe has added cars to it’s fleet.

    • Thomas Beck

      completely missed the point. how about “hey, shall I take the SUV or the truck to go to the mall down the street?”. answer: “how about taking a bicycle?”. Flash for video streams = trucks. in case you didn’t get it.

    • Here’s a variation of your metaphor:

      There was a Highway — a World-Wide Highway. A manufacturer of cars (Shockwave) came along and put a different kind of cars on The Highway. Over time, those cars changed a bit and got very glitzy. They soon became known as Flash-cars.

      These cars had several faults. The Flash-cars had a horrible carbon footprint. They were prone to breakdown on The Highway. Worst of all, the Flash-cars were completely opaque. Users who needed accessibility aids could not drive the Flash-cars, and the vendor of Flash-cars categorically ignored this problem. Nobody even talked about that problem that accessibility users had with the Flash-cars. The idea that any person — regardless of their ability — could drive any and every kind of car on The Highway seemed like an impossibility. But the Flash-cars were rather Flash-y, and many liked them for that.

      One day in 2007, a builder announced a new development: iOS-Ville. He didn’t like the smelly emissions and carbon footprint of the Flash-cars. He didn’t like that the Flash-cars often broke down. But — most importantly — the builder didn’t like that the Flash-cars were opaque and worked poorly for accessibility users. The builder banned Flash-cars in iOS-Ville. Years later, the builder even wrote a memo explaining his decision, “Thoughts on Flash-Cars.” Many were upset with his decision, but few of the people who liked Flash-cars took the time to read the memo.

      Time passes. The Flash cars get a bit better. Their emissions improve, and they don’t break down nearly as often. But they are still opaque as ever.

      iOS-Ville has also changed. The original houses were quite popular, and new house models show up every year or so. A couple of completely different types of houses have sprung up, too. iOS-ville has been wildly successful: over a quarter of a billion houses have been built. At first, many though the ban on Flash-cars on the streets would be lifted, but they were wrong. Some of the residents were a bit unhappy that iOS-Ville was Flash-free, but few ever sold their homes in iOS-ville to move elsewhere. Most upgraded to new houses over time, and many bought several houses. Over time, most of the residents of iOS-ville have found that Flash-cars were not rarely necessary. Also, the number of things that could only be put in Flash-cars became fewer and fewer. Even senior workers for the Flash-car manufacturer started saying that Flash-cars were not needed on The Highway and that transparent cars should be used instead.

      Some smaller neighborhoods in developments other than iOS-ville also started banning the Flash-cars. They found they, too, could get along just fine with only the transparent cars. Interestingly, the number of Flash-cars started decreasing everywhere on the highway — even in neighborhoods where there was no ban at all. The builders of iOS-ville, Android-land, and others even created a way to get Flash-cars without having them on The Highway. They published a catalog of approved Flash-cars that could be delivered to your house. Residents of iOS-ville and Android-land built little areas with very high walls in their back yards and put those catalog-ordered Flash-cars each in their own little walled area. All was good.

      How long will Flash-cars drive on The Highway? Nobody knows, but their number is decreasing every day. Everybody now knows that Flash-cars on The Highway are not essential. If there is an important Flash-car and it’s in the published catalog, you can order one delivered into a walled area of your back yard.

      One thing is for certain: those who couldn’t drive the opaque Flash-cars will celebrate on the day when the last of them is seen on The Highway.

      • You are, over and over again, consistently wrong on the accessibility angle. If iOS cannot read text in a flash file, as text, it’s because of one of two issues; 1) poor development: the developer created the flash content in such a way as to not be readable by a text reader. Poor developers do this in HTML too, by saving certain things as images, and not including alt text or anything like that. 2) poor planning/laziness on Apple’s part: If Google, Yahoo, and Bing search robots can all read text within swf files, why can’t iOS?

        I own an iPhone and an iPad. I don’t miss Flash on either one. But you’re being intentionally dense here, and spreading a whole crap-ton of bad information.

      • @Quentin, let me make sure I understand the convolutions that you’re proposing to make accessibility work for Flash pages on handheld machines:

        1. Run the Flash engine to render the webpage.
        2. Take an image “snapshot” with the Flash code running.
        3. Fire up Artificial-Intelligence text-recongnition software on the image of the snapshot.
        4. Re-render the page with the accessibility.

        If you thought the Flash-cars were clunkers before, this would put them over the top. By forcing accessibility users to reverse-engineer webpages on their handheld computers, the Flash-cars would be spewing kilograms of greenhouse gasses and other sorts of stinky by-products. And they would be moving slower than sin.

        You claim this as “poor planning/laziness [in iOS-Ville]”. Please look around: no handheld OS performs the kind of reverse-engineering of Flash programs in order to make them accessible. Google’s Android OS certainly doesn’t do it. Can you point to a client OS anywhere on handhelds or on PC that doesn’t have what you dubiously labeled as “poor planning”.

        You are right: Google does indeed reverse-engineer the text out of Flash programs to extract indexing data on its server farms. I didn’t know they were doing that. Their servers also continuously consume about 260 million watts of power 24×7 — about a quarter of the output of a nuclear plant. (See ). Google extracts the information once from a webpage and stores the results — it doesn’t do it again until the webpage is updated.

        Your proposal to reverse-engineer the text data on the client side is a non-starter. On the other hand, it would be feasible for the Flash development environment to provide an accessible representation of the webpage — IF Adobe provided such a facility. The Flash compiler could use HTML to encode that simplified version of the webpage. Users who needed an accessible version — and users that didn’t want to run Flash on their client machines — could specify that they wanted that other version. Why hasn’t Adobe ever done this?

        You are also right: it is possible for HTML websites to also make their text opaque by putting the text in an image. This is the basic way that Captcha technology works. Thankfully, does provide accessible alternatives to their image-puzzles. Here’s the big difference: on an HTML page, you have to work hard to opacify your text; on a Flash page, but serving up text on a Flash page in an transparent/accessible fashion is problematic.

        In general, accessibility has not been a priority for website developers. Many are not cognizant that they render their website less accessible when they put text in an image. AFAICT, Adobe has done absolutely nothing to address accessibility in Flash apps. That’s noteworthy, because Jobs cited this failing as the most important reason why Apple chose to make iOS devices Flash-free. Please read his April, 2010 “Thoughts on Flash” memo. I took pains in my iOS-Ville metaphor above to underscore this point.

        Inside their corporate headquarters, I think Adobe understands: Flash and accessibly are mutually incompatible. It’s nothing specific to Flash: all of the “lowest common denominator” one-size-fits-all runtime environments have exactly the same architectural problem. Jobs’s observation in “Thoughts on Flash” was that Adobe’s approach just wasn’t going to cut it in the post-PC era.

        @quentin: you’re welcome to disagree with my points, but let’s try to keep it professional. Your scatological terminology adds nothing to the discussion. I do understand this issue well, it appears that you have not thought it out nearly as thoroughly. And, yes, I’ll admit it: I am a die-hard fanboy for an accessible web. Every user — regardless of their ability — should be able to access every single page on The Information Highway. Do you think we should have it any other way?

        As far as I can tell, flushing Flash from the web is the only way to get there. If you disagree, please make your case. Thank you.

      • @Bones

        You seem to have absolutely no concept of the technical capabilities or limitations of the Flash platform, or the files it outputs. No AI is required. The swf format is capable of being parsed without loading a flash player, or using screen recognition software. Furthermore, a good developer will always include accessible fallback to any piece he creates, whether it’s Flash or html. Semantic markup, alt tags on images, multiple video formats (different browsers support different codecs), and, for Flash, html fallback or responsive design for those users who cannot see the Flash files.

        You continue to misrepresent the problem. The responsibility to make content accessible lies in the hands of the developer, not the tools they use.

        How you can claim to understand the problem so thoroughly, and yet continue to post patently poor information is beyond baffling. You’re judging the platform based on the implementations of an admittedly annoying group of developers who have chosen for too long to not develop with graceful degradation in mind.

        As for flushing flash from the web, do you ever watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or numerous other content online? There aren’t even any sparkles in anyone’s eye about a usable DRM or copy protection system without Flash (or Silverlight). Furthermore, contrary to what you want to believe, not every company or market has need to create an accessible version of their content. Not every situation/audience will require it. For example, and interactive media design company could have no need to develop an accessible version of their portfolio because their customer base exists entirely of people who need rich media solutions. There is, currently, no compelling example of a replacement for Flash for some rich media needs. HTML/JS/CSS offers some level of replacement for some lower end type of functionality, but it cannot compete with some of the more in depth stuff out there. As a web developer, and a mobile application developer, I am disappointed in your constant assertion that it is the tool, and not the designer, that creates both the success and problems of the examples you give. I rarely use Flash in my work, but when I do, it’s because there is no other alternative. You can pretend all you want that the web would be better without those things, my clients, and their users, would disagree with you, vehemently.

      • @quentin rambles on: “You continue to misrepresent the problem. The responsibility to make content accessible lies in the hands of the developer, not the tools they use.”

        You keep talking about something that I have never seen. I have yet to see A SINGLE FLASH WEBPAGE with a competent implementation of accessibility. If you think that there actually exist Flash pages with a competent implementation of accessibility, then you need to PROVIDE THE URLs. If you cannot produce a single Flash page with a competent implementation, you should immediately apologize to the group for wasting our time with your false claim.

        @quentin continues to dazzle us with his knowledge: “As for flushing flash from the web, do you ever watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or numerous other content online?”

        Yes. There’s an iOS app for all three. Nobody has to deal with Flash to see any of that content. Those vendors can deal with any DRM issues in their apps. Get it?

        And it continues: “not every company or market has need to create an accessible version of their content.”

        Every single webpage should be accessible. Every single webpage can be viewed with the platform’s accessibility widgets — IF it is coded in HTML.

        Would you mind going to , downloading the iPad user guide, and reading the chapter on accessibility? A lot of your misconceptions will get cleared up rapidly if you take the time to understand how accessibility already works.

        “I am disappointed in your constant assertion that it is the tool, and not the designer, that creates both the success and problems of the examples you give.”

        Your premise is fundamentally flawed. Flash and accessibility are mutually incompatible. If you think they are compatible, you need to stop talking and give us REAL EXAMPLES of Flash sites that are accessible. URLs now, please.

        If you can’t provide a single example of a Flash app with exemplary accessibility, the time has come to apologize to the group for your arrogance.

        Thank you.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      None of what you said makes sense. Those metaphors don’t match the situation even a little bit.

      You make out like Adobe is the standard solution, and Apple wants things their own way. That is backwards. The solution that Apple promotes is the standardized solution that everyone in Consumer Electronics uses EXCEPT FOR ADOBE. It is Adobe who wants things their way. Apple is the champion for this simply because they are the largest Consumer Electronics vendor, and because they know WTF they are doing.

      To sort out your highways, the analogy is really that all the car manufacturers got together and agreed on one (1) standard size for roads, and they agreed that they would only ever build that one size of road, and they agreed that they would all design all of their cars such that they would all run on that one standard size of road.

      That way, the consumer would have a) the FREEDOM to choose any car from any manufacturer, and b) the FREEDOM to choose to drive wherever they want to, on any road. If the consumer has both of those freedoms, there is a virtuous circle where consumers buy more cars and drive more places and so buy more cars and drive more places. If the consumer lacks one or both of those, a downward spiral occurs where consumers buy fewer cars, drive less, and so buy fewer cars and drive less. None of the car manufacturers want that.

      However, one of the car manufacturers who agreed to the new standard size road doesn’t make cars, they just make axles for other people’s cars. That is Adobe. And they have made millions and millions of axles over 15 years. And they are all the wrong size for the standard road. So they build a system where a standard car from the other manufacturers can bolt on a second set of Adobe-size wheels and run on the Adobe roads. Cars rigged this way are more expensive and complicated and the user has to put the nonstandard wheels on and off, which is a hassle. And while the car drives that way, it uses 2x the gas, runs half speed, and is a pig to drive, no fun for the user. In fact, it spoils the enjoyment of their car so much they call up the manufacturer — Apple — and complain why does this suck so much? Can’t you make a car that can drive on Adobe roads without this extra second set of wheels contraption? Apple’s answer is, they will work on it.

      So they go to Adobe and say, when are you going to take a road crew out and add an extra 1 meter strip down the side of all of your roads to make them standard sized so our drivers can just cruise right down those roads without your second set of wheels and the 2x gas use, and the half speed, and so on? And Adobe says, “hey, we make good money on those wheel kits, why don’t you just install our wheel kits on all your cars at the factory?” And Apple says, because that would not only be impractical, but it would cost us and our users and all the other car manufacturers and their users more time and money and hassle than it would cost you to fix your roads and make this problem go away forever so we can get on to selling way more cars than ever before as users drive everywhere, unobstructed. And Adobe bad mouths Apple in the press.

      So a key thing to understand is this is not Adobe roads versus Apple roads, it is Adobe roads versus everyone-else-roads. All of the CE manufacturers except Adobe have already built 100% standard video players and content. 100% of the CE and PC devices with the exception of a sad handful of Windows Phone devices have HTML5/MPEG4 out-of-the-box. 75% of the video is already in HTML5. Only the 25% of video that belongs to Adobe still needs to be upgraded so it works with the entire rest of the f’ing world.

      Keep in mind that Adobe is like a $20 billion company, and their nonstandard video has easily cost the rest of the industry $20 billion. If someone had bought Adobe, killed Flash, then sold Adobe, we would all be better off.

  16. Call me a fanboy, but when Apple wins, the entire industry wins. Remember when a GUI was a toy and a mouse was a joke. “Real” computing had to be done on a DOS machine. Windows comes alone and everyone wins. Remember when Intel came up with USB and failed to convince any other computer maker to put it on their machine? The first iMac came out with no SCSI or parallel ports, just a USB port. Never mind that no USB peripherals existed yet. Still the entire industry wins. iPhone with no physical keyboard… need I say more? Let’s face it, Adobe was riding flash like Microsoft had been riding windows through the ’90’s. Apple forces Adobe to improve and they have. The entire industry wins, but mostly Adobe wins.

  17. Buddy Love

    This is not talking about normal videos playing inside Flash that we all see everywhere, and Apple users want to see, this is specific to something done a few months back.

    Those hosting and streaming video via FMS, like a live video feed, or live porn, stuff like that, can now show that content on ios. None of the youtube videos, or videos on websites are going to work.

    Oh, and to the “Apple has won” comment, this is a very very very small niche aspect of the Flash Enviroment, technically it isn’t even Flash or even has to do with Flash, it has to do with Adobe’s FMS, which just happens to have Flash in the name.

    And anything Adobe, getting “back” on Apple devices is a “WIN!” for Adobe, not Apple.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      > This is not talking about normal videos playing
      > inside Flash that we all see everywhere

      It is if they are being streamed by Flash Media Server.

      > None of the youtube videos, or videos on
      > websites are going to work.

      Again, they will if they are streamed by Flash Media Server.

      The server is just doing HTTP streaming. That means it is taking a bite of an MPEG video and sending only that bite over the wire, then repeat. If the server can send a bite that was captured a few minutes ago, it can send a bite that was captured last month.

      But anyway, YouTube has played on iOS since 2007. About 75% of the video on websites already plays on iPad via HTML5. Flash Media Server adopting HTTP streaming is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the end. The vast majority of the Web is already doing HTML5 video, but they are only showing it to iPads as yet, so it is not obvious except to iPad users.

      That is why PC users will say “of course you need Flash, iPad must suck without it,” because they are seeing FlashPlayer load up on every other page they surf and they think iPads are seeing a blank spot. We are not. I can go days without running into a video I can’t play on my iPad, and it is almost always somewhere else that I can play it anyway. Like I go to YouTube and the video is there also and I play it.

      There are also iPad apps that play Flash content, like Skyfire. A server reads the Flash video and sends HTML5 to the iPad.

      So Flash Media Server, again, is like the final straw. The end of this stupid activity from Adobe.

      > Oh, and to the “Apple has won” comment, this is a
      > very very very small niche aspect of the Flash Enviroment,

      No, that is incorrect. Video playback is 99% of the use of Flash, and the only controversial use of Flash, because Adobe was sabotaging the universal video standard, wrapping ISO MPEG in proprietary Flash.

      The other uses for Flash are rarely used and even more obsolete. Totally irrelevant.

      > And anything Adobe, getting “back” on Apple
      > devices is a “WIN!” for Adobe, not Apple.

      No, Adobe is not back on Apple devices. What Adobe just did makes it finally 100% unnecessary for them ever to get back on Apple devices. They have been trying to extort Apple into using their client software, but now they have admitted defeat.

      Adobe’s position was that iOS devices “needed” FlashPlayer installed on them to play video. Apple said publishers can use the standard video player built into all devices (not just Apple devices). That is what Adobe is now doing, so they are proving their is no need for FlashPlayer anymore. Hence, we judge they lost the argument. All that is getting on Apple devices from this server is ISO MPEG-4 HTTP streams, exactly what Apple recommends you do for their devices and all standardized devices.

      If Apple had announced today that iOS v5 will include Adobe FlashPlayer, that would have been the exact opposite, that would have been Adobe winning.

  18. grasshopper

    Hey guys get over it, Apple won. Adobe knows that if it wants to remain relevant in the mobile arena, they have to accommodate iPad, ah duhh, it’s the best selling tablet computer ever and it’s going to stay like that for years to come, just like apple dominated the iPod market. Apple didn’t use Flash because its’s a battery drain, pure and simple no conspiracy or CIA drama. stop being haters guys, Adobe has seen the light and now it’s gonna make some bling, too bad they let their egos get the best of them earlier.


    • Ah young grasshopper so much to learn. Apple didn’t win but in this case the belief seems to be since apple didn’t lose they won. Certain people on both sides of this let their ego’s get in the way but adobe was hardly totally at fault. Also yes Iphones and Ipads are the single best seller currently of mobile devices because they come from ONE manufacturer. If you were to lump ALL the Android devices together they would have the largest market share and they run flash just fine. This is certainly a good thing for apple USERS but I really don’t think that this counts as a win or a loss for either side.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Android phones don’t run Flash fine. Most do not run it at all. None have it preinstalled. None have a final version, they are all betas. You believed some PR.

        If anyone was able to lump all Android devices together into one platform, Google would be really happy. That cannot be done. They are not one platform. They do not all run the same apps. The majority of Android devices have zero Google involvement and cannot even be identified as Android if you don’t read the specs.

        Understand that Android is not even the most popular mobile open source project. That is Apple WebKit. If we lump all devices together that run WebKit, that would actually make some sense because they do all run the same HTML5 apps. And as I said, that is a much bigger number of devices than Android, well over double. It could be as much as 10 times bigger.

        Yes, it is a win for Apple, because as a hardware vendor and platform vendor, it is good when the Web is hardware-agnostic and platform-agnostic. That means fair competition between hardware and platform vendors. When their is fair competition, Apple always does well, because they are a competitive company. They’re good at what they do. The thing that has hurt them before is anti-competitive behavior. For example, Web apps being written to run only in IE6, which runs only on Windows. Or video published to run only in Adobe Flash, which has only ever run acceptably well on Windows. Between 2005-2007, Adobe had one part-time engineer working on Flash for Mac. Bless his heart, but he was not able to make it not totally suck. It crashed, it failed, it ran the CPU painfully hot, it was insecure. It caused the majority of lifetime browser crashes on Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Mac OS X Leopard. One year, it was responsible for the majority of critical security bugs in Mac OS X, solely because it was included with a Mac OS X install. Apple could not fix those bugs in Adobe software and Adobe wouldn’t do it.

        Also, users win. Not just Apple users, but all users. Everybody wins with an open Web. For example, it will be possible for users to run Windows 8 tablets without FlashPlayer, which would destroy the battery life. All that would have to happen is Microsoft would have to tell Adobe “we’re not putting FlashPlayer on Windows 8 tablets” and Adobe will update their server so that it serves the ISO standard stream not just to Apple tablets but also to Microsoft tablets.

        Further, when the new wave of ARM-based notebooks arrive, which are much smaller and lighter and cheaper and have much better battery life than Intel systems, they won’t have to run FlashPlayer to surf the Web. This is key, because these ARM notebooks were supposed to ship in 2008, but Adobe was unable to complete the FlashPlayer for them in time, and ARM had to shelve the project. That extended Intel’s monopoly in PC processors and caused users to have to continue to buy Intel systems with 2x size, 2x weight, half the battery life, and more cost.

        So a big win for everybody other than Adobe.

    • matthewfabb

      Flash works great on the iPad, just not through the browser, because Apple blocks it from Safari mobile. Right now the top selling iPad game in the US, is Machinarium which is all done in Flash. It’s uses Adobe AIR to compile down to an iOS native file. There’s a number of other apps and games that have done quite well (some that Apple themselves feature in iTunes) using Flash.

      • @matthew, the App Store is the right place for Flash. Since Flash fails with accessibility (see arguments in other messages in this comment chain), the web is the wrong place for Flash. Websites should be a place where all users — regardless of their ability — can transparently access all data.

        Apple has sorted out all of the technical details so that Flash apps can run safely as standalone apps. Users should be happy because they can fire up the Flash apps without having to load them (no latency and no bandwidth consumed). Adobe is happy because they have new tools to sell their customers. Flash developers are happy because they now have access to a marketplace of a quarter-billion (and growing) iOS devices. Apple is happy because they get their 30% cut on all paid apps. And fans of accessibility are happy because machines that both have Flash and keep the web-browsing experience Flash-free.

        It’s a quintuple win!

      • Flash doesn’t fail with accessibility… That’s an inaccurate statement. Do some research.

        While I agree that Flash is NOT used well in MOST cases of use, I do not agree that the only way forward is to purge the world of Flash. Nor do I believe that Apple has “won”. This is an evolution of services by one company. Perhaps it has been influenced by the behavior of another, but it’s simply a natural evolution. Flash is the wrong tool for so many functions. That doesn’t make it the wrong tool for all of them.

      • @Sphen says, “Flash doesn’t fail with accessibility… That’s an inaccurate statement. Do some research.”

        I have researched it extensively. You can see it for yourself. Please download the latest iPad manual from and read through the chapter on accessibility. If Flash were supported on the iPad, the text related adapters could not work because the iPad can’t recognize text in a Flash program as text.

        Those who need the accessibility adapters are “shut out” from Flash code.

        Simply saying “do some research” doesn’t cut it. Present your reasoning. If you see some flaw in my reasoning, please enlighten us.

        I don’t think that Flash needs to be purged from the world. I do think that Flash should be purged from the web. The post-PC App Store paradigm (which is available on iOS, Android, RIM, WebOS, Mac OS, etc.) is the right place to distribute Flash apps. The web should be reserved for data that can be transparently accessible by all — regardless of their ability.

        As you note, Flash is the wrong tool for so many functions. You also think it might be the right tool for some of them. Those two statements point to an obvious truth: different people think that different kinds of Flash apps are valuable (and some probably think that no Flash apps are worth the trouble).

        The beauty of serving up Flash through App Stores is that individual customers can decide for themselves what Flash apps are gold and which are … something less than gold. Developers also have a similar choice: they can use one of the platform-independent environments to deliver apps to all the App Stores from a common source, or they can custom-craft their code for a particular kind of computer. It’s their choice, and the market can sort out which of these approaches is the winner.

        App stores also provide some protection from deliberately-crafted malware. Stores can screen the apps and rapidly pull apps that end up behaving badly.

      • @matt
        Amanita Design make great content, but the fact that the relatively simple Machinarium *requires* an iPad2 highlights that Adobe still have a lot of work to get ActionScript as a viable alternative to Native Code.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        > @matthew, the App Store is the right place
        > for Flash. Since Flash fails with accessibility
        > (see arguments in other messages in this
        > comment chain), the web is the wrong place for Flash.

        What you missed is that iOS is the single most accessible platform on the planet. It is the only one designed from the ground up for accessibility. There are many, many blind iPhone and iPad users, for example.

        So there is no excuse at all for an inaccessible iOS app. “I wanted to use Flash” is not an excuse. What you are doing is sabotaging the only safe place that people who require accessibility features have.

        The truth is, Flash is simply not necessary. You won’t find a home for it. We don’t need a tool that enables you to author in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PNG, SVG, and MPEG-4 but then wraps those universally-playable vendor-neutral formats inside a Flash app that can only be played with Adobe software on specific platforms, with additional I-T burden to the client. Those formats play in the browser, using open API’s.

    • FasterThanTheWorld

      I use flash to display video on my television via my Android tablet quite frequently. An hour-long show usually drains my battery about 12%.. just a few % more than doing non-Flash things.

      And of course, it’s always MY CHOICE when i want to view flash content. Why are iOS users so comfortable with Steve Jobs dictating how they can spend their battery cycles?

      • @Faster: when I want to view content, I want to do it in the simplest manner possible. If streaming content is available through both standard protocols and proprietary Flash wrappers, I will choose the standard streaming protocols every single time. In other words, common sense is dictating how I view streaming content — not any company.

        There’s a far better question here: why is the new Adobe Streaming Server not allowing users on ALL platforms to have a choice to get the streaming data through standard protocols? Why are THEY trying to dictate to users on other platforms that they must use Flash to view the streaming content? Why isn’t there a simple way for users to specify a token: HELL-NO-THAT-FLASH-WRAPPER-HAS-GOTTA-GO (!)

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        It would be easy for Adobe’s server to simply detect FlashPlayer on the client, and if it is there, send Flash, and if it is not, send HTML5. The video is the same ISO MPEG4 in either case.

        But Flash is a vendor lock-in play. So of course they are going to show the user “Get Flash” if they don’t have Flash.

        However, other hardware manufacturers now know they can leave out Flash and get their device on Adobe’s no-Flash list on their server, or they can identify their devices to the Internet as being the iPad browser and Adobe will send standard video.

        I would not be surprised if Microsoft does not include FlashPlayer in Windows 8. In fact, I would be surprised if they did include it. More likely, they will ask Adobe to detect Windows 8 tablets and feed HTML5 also.

        > And of course, it’s always MY CHOICE when
        > i want to view flash content. Why are iOS
        > users so comfortable with Steve Jobs
        > dictating how they can spend their battery
        > cycles?

        1) Because that is exactly what iOS users have paid Apple to do, so that iOS users don’t have to think about useless stupid sh t like spending battery cycles. I write songs. I think about songwriting. Apple thinks about battery cycles and open video formats. And iOS users are like 95% “very satisfied.”

        2) What possible reason would the user have to want to spend double the CPU cycles running a FlashPlayer software video player in order to play THE EXACT SAME VIDEO FILE that already plays natively IN HARDWARE on their device? Why would they want to see Flash hiccup and choke and skip frames and crash as it plays that file, when the HARDWARE OF THEIR DEVICE can play that file smoothly, in the highest-quality, with the absolute minimum battery impact.

        3) What you are suggesting is that it is advantageous to a consumer to have 2 different kinds of video players that both play the exact same kind of video file. It is not. HD-DVD and Blu-Ray both play the same exact video file, but having both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray was not better than just Blu-Ray. Consumers had to buy both in order to have the freedom to choose content from any source and have it be playable for them. That is the purpose of the ISO consumer audio video standards: to enable the user to choose a video playback device from any manufacturer and choose content from any publisher and it all works. CD, DVD, iPod, today’s Blu-Ray, and HTML5 all work like that.

        4) The individual iOS user does not have the power to unwrap an ISO standard video from its proprietary Flash wrapper that prevents them from playing it. We have no power to prevent Adobe from continuing to sabotage open video in this way. Apple actually has have the power to do those things and re-enable consumer choice, as we see from this article.

        5) Apple knows more about PC’s than anyone else; Apple knows more about video than anyone else. They are the leading provider of both pro and consumer video editing tools, they are the creator of QuickTime, which is to video what Unix is to the Internet, they created the ISO MPEG4 file format, are the leading online retailer of digital media, and Steve Jobs is an Oscar-winning former head of a major movie studio and the biggest Shareholder in Disney. They know WTF they are doing here.

  19. Do you think Apple is going to let Adobe get away with this. How long you think before Apple pulls some legal clause and nips this in the bud? (like they did for the whole compile AIR to Objective-C idea from Adobe, granted they had to redact that one, but doesn’t mean they can’t try it again with this)

    • Thomas Beck

      Uhm, what? This technology means iOS users will get to see the video streams because they will now be served as HTML 5 video instead of Flash. Until now, they wouldn’t be able to see the videos because they were Flash only. This is A Good Thing ™ for iOS users and exactly what Apple wants. HTML video for its users.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      You have it so backwards.

      The delivery method to get video to stream onto an iOS device is the STANDARD, OPEN METHOD, that anyone can use for free. It is so easy to do, a junior Web developer who knows nothing about video can publish a video stream that way in a half hour with no special tools and no special server. It’s a Web development -centric way to publish video.

      The method to stream video into a FlashPlayer instance requires a developer who makes 5-10 times more money, $5000 worth of tools that you can only get from Adobe, much, much more development time, and requires the client device to have more Adobe software, which requires up to 50 software updates per year, and which only runs acceptably on some Windows systems, runs poorly on the Mac, barely runs on a handful of mobiles, and doesn’t run at all on the vast majority of mobiles (not just iOS.) The Adobe method also wraps an ISO standard, universally playable video file inside a FlashPlayer player, making in unplayable on any device that does not have FlashPlayer. That is like wrapping a JPEG in a PDF so it shows in Acrobat instead of the Web browser. It is user-hostile and proprietary and against every principle of the architecture of the World Wide Web.

      You may think of Apple as “closed” but Apple is bigger than that. They are both open and closed. They are both Web and native. They sell hardware. They want to sell hardware to users who want open apps (HTML5) and users who want closed, or managed apps (App Store or Mac App Store). They want to sell hardware to users who want Web apps, and users who want native apps. They want to sell devices to users who want to live in the lush Mac GUI and users who want to live in the stark Mac Unix command line. They sell to Mac OS X users and to Windows users and to Linux users.

      That is why so many characterizations of Apple are so wrong. They try to figure out which side Apple is on, when Apple is on both sides on so many things. You can download music from Apple to your iPhone, but you can also sideload music from any source, same with books and movies. Where they are opinionated is on how to design and build the best computer product. On that, you are free to either agree with them (buy an Apple product) or disagree with them (do not buy an Apple product.) It could not be any less controversial.

  20. Philip Bulley

    “Basically, Adobe is acknowledging Apple has won when it comes to Flash.”

    In that case, please feel free to quote me:
    “Basically, Darrell Etherington has demonstrated he knows nothing about web technology.”

    Maybe my quote is sensationalist, inaccurately broad, but that’s fine because so is yours.

    • Strike 1 was when the John Nack, the Principal Marketing Manager at Adobe, tells users to start converting Flash sites to HTML5 ( ). As John said there, “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems. That means putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.”

      Strike 2 was the release of Wallaby, a cross-compiling tool to create iOS apps from Flash/Flex/Air source. If there are any “mission critical” apps that must be run on iOS, then they can be packaged this way. The response to this tool appears to be underwhelming. If there are actually “mission critical” Flash apps that everyone needs, the marketplace will sort that out.

      Strike 3 was the updates to Adobe Media Server to allow it to stream data without going through Flash.

      Apple has won. They will never allow Flash code to be run in a web browser on iOS devices. Smart websites will take John Nack’s advice and deliver all website content with HTML5/CSS/Javascript and get rid of their Flash code.

  21. Rich Allen

    Well, not really. Apple looses, because now it just became easier for developers to deliver cross platform applications, which was, as we all know, the real reason for Apples problem with Flash. And still, the most interesting interactive multi-media content is not available to a large number of Apple users. So… the Apple users loose too.

    • I agree with @PXLated. I don’t quite follow your chain of reasoning. This article was about an Adobe media platform.

      The article briefly mention in passing the Flash/Flex packager that can be used to deliver an iOS app to the app store. That was released about 3 months ago, and there are Flash-based apps in the iOS App Store. Apple has no “problem” with Flash; these Flash-based apps have been competing against apps created with native Xcode apps in the App Store.

      As far as I can tell, results to Flash apps so far have been underwhelming. The Flash-based app politifact briefly made it as the #1 app in the news area (and briefly into the top-200 paid apps overall), but has since faded to the #3 app in news (one of the less-popular areas) and out of the overall category. That’s the best performance I know by any app.

      Apple’s problem with Flash has to do with accessibility. Please go read Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash”. Content delivered through a Flash app is opaque; the accessibility aids cannot work on Flash apps. Users who need those accessibility adapters to view the web are “shut out” from Flash content.

      How do we get to a web where every page is accessible to everyone? The only solution I see is to flush Flash from the web. If you see some other approach, please tell us.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      No, that is not true.

      FlashPlayer is not the best solution for cross-platform apps to compete with iOS App Store apps. The best solution for that is HTML5, which already enjoy 99% deployment on smartphones and tablets (the other 1% is Microsoft devices.)

      The company that is most responsible for the wide deployment of HTML5, especially on mobiles, is Apple. They are the maker of the only HTML5 browser that runs on ARM, and they give it away free to all other software developers in the world, so it is also running on all of the devices that compete with Apple.

      So Apple could not have been trying to prevent cross-platform mobile applications from becoming possible because they already are possible, they have been possible since 2007, one year before App Store even launched, and it is Apple who made them possible.

      App Store is actually a latecomer competitor to HTML5. App Store is the ALTERNATIVE application platform on iOS devices. The user is actually more likely to run the browser than the App Store app, and the browser works for everyone; the App Store app requires you to create an Apple login. Apple has made it easy to install any Web app you run in Safari as a local app onto iOS, from any server in the world, so it appears in your app launcher right alongside your built-in apps and any App Store apps you had. This is so easy that users often don’t realize that is what they did. And no other platform even offers that yet except Chrome OS, which only offers that, it has no native apps. Web apps are equal citizens with native apps on iOS only. (On Mac OS X, there is a script you can run to do the same thing, but it is not as obvious and most users won’t do it.)

      So your conspiracy theory is not only wrong, it’s hilarious on its face. App Store does not need to hit the Web in the knees with a pipe in order to win the skating competition. App Store is a great skater and is happy to compete fairly and wins every match anyway. Why on earth would Apple hatch some grand anti-competitive plan when they are winning the competitions?

  22. “Basically, Adobe is acknowledging Apple has won when it comes to Flash.”

    This is more than a bit inaccurate. This only applies to video streams. It’s a bit disappointing that there still remains so much misinformation when it comes to the platform. Even more disappointing when it comes from the more popular and respected blogs/outlets. You are doing a disservice to your users by lumping the entire technology under the “video player” umbrella. Flash does a lot more than just stream video, and nearly everyone who runs around screaming ” is a Flash killer” doesn’t even acknowledge that Flash is capable of more than playing kitten videos.

    Adobe has always been a proponent of the “right tool for the job” type of mentality. Just because some developers chose the wrong one, or developed poorly on top of Flash is no reason to marginalize the entire platform.

    • “This only applies to video streams.”

      The writer also acknowledged Adobe’s Flash/Flex to iOS App tool. While he didn’t mention the Flash to HTML5 tool Wallaby, anyone knowledgable about Flash and iOS knows about that tool, too.

      Adobe has long played on the ambiguity of what “Flash” means. Mostly, customers care about media. The don’t care about goofy apps that often get in the way of presenting data. If there are some really useful Flash apps, they should already be cross-compiled and available in the iOS App Store. As far as I can tell, there really has been no “gold rush” of Flash apps to the App Store. Flash has rarely if ever come up with something that hasn’t already been done a better way on iOS.

      Have you ever read Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash” memo? The most important reason he cites for flushing Flash from iOS is that Flash cannot use the accessibility widgets that are provided with each platform. The iPhone/iPad browser can provide all sorts of adaptations to present HTML data, but it can do nothing with the opaque Flash data.

      Flash is a failure for accessibility. The only way we’re going to get a web that’s accessible for all is to flush Flash. If you read Jobs’s memo closely, you’ll see that.

      I applaud a company that saw the accessibility problem and took decisive action to address it. For the web, the “right tool for the job” is HTML/CSS/JavaScript and not Flash.

      • Bob Warfield

        Top selling game on the iPad, at least at the moment, is Flash-based. Mechanarium. Most of the time, you just don’t know what it’s written in, and there’s no real advantage to the developers to point it out. But be careful what you assume.

      • @Bob,

        Be careful what you assume. If you think there has been some “gold rush” of Flash-based apps, you need to provide some hard evidence for that claim. There are all sorts of iOS APIs that are completely inaccessible to Flash developers. That’s what it means to be operating with a “lowest common denominator” architecture. That’s exactly what Jobs was talking about in his document — a lesson few people seem to have gotten.

      • Hi, @Stan. I have no idea wat the number of users of Zynga games has to do with this discussion. I was asking why there hasn’t been a “gold rush” of Flash games submitted to the iOS app store.

        Where does your number come from? What does it include? Does it include the number of users playing Zynga on native iOS and Android games, or is it only game-players via Flash?

        What does any of it have to do with the question @Bob and I were discussing here?

      • @Bob.
        *Machinarium made it to number 1 not because it was originally written in Flash, but because it is a great game with stunning visuals. The fact that Machinarium requires an iPad2 for what is basically just sprite animation and beautiful backgrounds indicates how pathetic Adobe’s ActionScript>iOS App bridge is.

        Amanita Design are a great studio, but even they are having problems. Just visit their forums to understand the magnitude of the problems they’re having.

      • Flash is only a problem for accessibility in the hands of a poor developer. Seriously, this is just purely inaccurate. I don’t think Flash should be everywhere, at all. But I know that there are things that Flash can do that html cannot (I’m not talking about native applications here, because that’s not really what the article is getting at). DRM/Copy Protection being the most notable. The video tag is great for kitten videos, and videos of your best friend doing a keg stand, but until they can protect their content, no major content provider will implement their service in html5 video. They just won’t, no matter what you cry about accessibility.

        HTML5 video isn’t any more or less accessible by itself. Poor developers can create inaccessible code in any language.

      • Flash is only a problem for accessibility in the hands of a poor developer. Seriously, this is just purely inaccurate.”


        Over the years, I’ve run hundreds if not thousands of Flash programs. I have yet to see a single one of them which has a competent implementation of accessibility.

        Can you name any Flash pages that have a competent implementation of accessibility?

        You continue, “HTML5 video isn’t any more or less accessible by itself. ”

        Really? Have you ever run the accessibility widgets on an iOS device or on Mac OS X? Accessibility works on every HTML webpage.

        Many of the Flash-advocates have absolutely no idea how accessibility works in normal HTML web browsing. With all due respect, you seem to be in that group.

      • @Bones

        I’ll just say this one more time, because you keep missing it. If the developer properly implements a graceful degradation (or, alternatively, a progressive enhancement) process based on the browser’s limitations, there is no issue. Just because Flash has made it easy for thousands of crappy devs to output bad code doesn’t mean it’s the platform. Front Page outputs largely unusable code too. No one rails against html there. It’s the developer that’s the problem, not the platform.

        I’m with you on most of your points, with regards to Flash not being appropriate for everything, but there still currently exist no alternatives for certain needed implementations (interactive video, high end data visualization). Believe it or not, there are some situations where the presentation of the data is more important for the audience than the raw data itself.

      • “I’ll just say this one more time, because you keep missing it. If the developer properly implements a graceful degradation (or, alternatively, a progressive enhancement) process based on the browser’s limitations, there is no issue.”

        Nope. Sorry. That’s just wrong. The accessibility aids built into OS’s like OS X are unavailable to Flash code. There is no way for the Flash code to access them. This is not a case of “graceful degradation”; it is a case of FAIL. If you’re running Flash, you cannot access the browser’s accessibility aids. Flash and accessibility are mutually incompatible.

        Please please please pull down the iPad or Mac OS X manual and read the chapter on accessibility. Then realize that all of the text adapters cannot be used by Flash.

        Your earlier claim that “Flash is only a problem for accessibility in the hands of a poor developer.” is just plain wrong. NO Flash developer can code for accessibility. To coin a phrase, they don’t have access to the APIs. This is what Jobs noted as the most important reason why Apple decided to make iOS devices Flash-free.

        If there is a specialty purpose, then a specialty app can be made for the purpose. The three you named in another message — Netflix, HBO, and Hulu — ALL have apps for them. Major vendors found Flash-free solutions for iOS years ago.

        You owe the group an apology for your colossal misunderstanding on this topic.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Apple won a World Wide Web that is hardware-agnostic and platform-agnostic. That means no hardware or platform vendor such as Microsoft or Google or Adobe can use the Web anticompetitively against Apple. The ability to improve the Web experience on Apple devices is totally in the hands of Apple, therefore they can continue to have the best Web experience and nobody can say you have to get a Windows PC to see the Web, don’t get an Apple device.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      > You are doing a disservice to your users by lumping
      > the entire technology under the “video player”
      > umbrella. Flash does a lot more than just stream video,

      I understand what you’re saying because I’m a Flash developer since 1997. But you are more wrong than right.

      Note that about 99% of FlashPlayer use is to create an MPEG video player. That is FlashPlayer’s major function. When FlashPlayer got video, it stopped being just another browser plug-in and became Windows XP’s MPEG video player, because Windows XP previously did not have one, and it was the only device that you could say that about.

      The animation and vector graphics uses of FlashPlayer that it had for years before video are hardly used by comparison to video, and they are even more obsolete than using FlashPlayer as a video player. For the past 2-3 years, my only Flash animation work has been to port existing content from FlashPlayer to HTML5. It is not that hard in most cases and the results are so much better.

      There are a small number of Flash apps that can’t yet be ported to HTML5, but that is only a very small number, and those developers have many choices of platform to go to: iOS, Windows, Mac, Android, etc.

      The thing is, we have to remember to celebrate the death of FlashPlayer. In the late 1990’s, we thought FlashPlayer would be obsolete once HTML4 came in, and we looked forward to it very much because the plug-in is a huge hassle. Running the work in the browser makes the work MUCH more valuable. It was very disappointing to see W3C ignore audio video and animations in HTML4. So we have been waiting a long time for the kind of rich Web app development that has traditionally been done in Flash to go MAINSTREAM. Now that time is here. That is why more sites use jQuery than Flash these days. In many cases, those are former FlashPlayer developers, because we are the ones who know about animation and audio video and scripting interactivity and so on. The scripting in Flash is just JavaScript … in many cases you can reuse huge amounts of code, and you can reuse all your media.

      So what we have is Flash development being LIBERATED from the plug-in. Not just to get rid of the problems of the plug-in, but to have the animations and so on be a part of the same DOM that the rest of the page elements are part of, so you are programming in only one environment, where everything can talk to every other thing, and where you can debug just that one environment.

      This also makes the cost of high-interactivity Web app development tools go from US$499 per seat to $0 per seat, because standard Web development tools are free, unlike the Flash authoring tool. Standard Web development tools also run on all platforms, whereas the Flash authoring tool is Mac and Windows.

      So HTML5 is a golden age for anyone who ever did any Flash development, or anyone who ever enjoyed any Flash apps. All that stuff is being ported into the browser as universally-readable, backwards-compatible HTML5 code. In a few years, the native HTML5 Web will be much richer than HTML4+Flash ever was. Every site will be “flashy” so to speak. Animations are mainstream now, not an optional thing for nerds or for only on some platforms.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Nobody has to marginalize Flash. It has been obsolete for years. It is already marginalized. I’m a Flash developer and all I have done with Flash for 2-3 years is port it to HTML5. Most recent innovations in Flash: browser extensions that block it or replace it with HTML video; meters that show you how much CPU Flash is using; tools to kill a Flash movie that is out of control; Macs that ship without it; browsers that are redesigned to be able to survive a Flash crash intact, websites that detect iPads and serve standard video instead. That is not a healthy, vibrant platform.

      Video is really all Flash is used for. 99% of Flash use is video players. The other uses are even more obsolete and irrelevant and are totally non-controversial. It is only the sabotaging of open standard video by Adobe that was the issue.

      In Consumer Electronics and most especially in music and movie production, the most important rule is don’t F with the consumer playback standard. That is because over the past 100 years, whenever somebody has F’ed with the consumer playback standard, consumers simply stop buying all media. There have been sales crashes of 10 years, 20 years, because some joker like Microsoft wanted to introduce something foolish like an HD-DVD. All HD-DVD did was carry the same MPEG4 movie from a Blu-Ray to the user in a nonstandard, proprietary way, so that Microsoft could attempt to get a vendor lock-in on HD optical disc sales and player licensing. Blu-Ray is “owned” by a consortium of player manufacturers, so that they can all make video players that play all the same content, because that is what users require. See DVD, CD.

      > Adobe has always been a proponent of the “right tool for the job” type of mentality.

      No, that is not true. Adobe has always been a proponent of the “Adobe tool for the job” type of mentality.

      The right tool for making Web apps is HTML5. The right tool for publishing consumer video is MPEG4. Neither of those assertions is in any way controversial. It is exactly the same as someone in 2002 saying the right tool for publishing consumer video is MPEG2 (DVD Player), or someone in 1992 saying the right tool for making Web apps is HTML1.

  23. Scotty Brown


    Oh heaven forbid… a company innovates to increase their target audience! If they do that, and their target audience just happens to be iPhone users, then Apple has won the FLASH WAR!!!

    Give me a break.

    • Yes, won. Until late in 2010, Adobe was promoting the “full web experience” (a marketing-phrase for HTML plus Flash) as something crucial for mobile devices. Check out , which claims that “over 70% of games and 75% of video that are delivered with Flash.” It took until the fall of 2010 for Adobe’s John Nack to blog about what has now been released as Wallaby ( ): ” Cut the cost of targeting multiple runtimes” — flush the Flash code from websites and only serve up HTML — and “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems.”

      Remember, the iPhone was released in mid-2007. It took Adobe over three years to adapt its products to a Flash-free platform, and over four years to adopt its media server to serve up media to the iOS platform. Until this product, customers that wanted access to the hundreds of millions of iOS devices had to abandon the Adobe server platform.

      Adobe has used the phrase “full web experience” thousands of time on their website. They have now — finally — changed direction. I say it’s about time.

      Give us a break.

    • @Scotty: I’m with you brother, check out this article from 2008(here’s an excerpt):
      Allowing Flash — which is a development platform of its own — would just be too dangerous for Apple, a company that enjoys exerting total dominance over its hardware and the software that runs on it. Flash has evolved from being a mere animation player into a multimedia platform capable of running applications of its own. That means Flash would open a new door for application developers to get their software onto the iPhone: Just code them in Flash and put them on a web page. In so doing, Flash would divert business from the App Store, as well as enable publishers to distribute music, videos and movies that could compete with the iTunes Store.
      Allowing Flash — which is a development platform of its own — would just be too dangerous for Apple, a company that enjoys exerting total dominance over its hardware and the software that runs on it. Flash has evolved from being a mere animation player into a multimedia platform capable of running applications of its own. That means Flash would open a new door for application developers to get their software onto the iPhone: Just code them in Flash and put them on a web page. In so doing, Flash would divert business from the App Store, as well as enable publishers to distribute music, videos and movies that could compete with the iTunes Store.

      • Brian Ashe

        Apple likes users to have a good experience. Point me to one review of a mobile device that says “Flash performance on this device is flawless.” Or even “Flash performance on this device is generally acceptable.”

      • What you and @scotty don’t get is that it’s a huge innovation for the web to become Flash-free. We will never have an accessible web until opaque services like Flash are put to bed.

        There are very few companies that could have drawn this line in the sand and made this bold move. Customers need not ever use Apple products to benefit from the massive clean-up that has begun on the web.

        The only pathway I see to an accessible web is to flush Flash. If anyone sees another way, please make your case.

      • @Bones: “Customers need not ever use Apple products to benefit from the massive clean-up that has begun on the web.”

        I don’t know about that. I have a Mac without Flash installed, and I use both Safari and Firefox. When I go to sites like on Firefox, they tell me, “You need to upgrade your Adobe Flash Player to watch this video.
        Download it from Adobe.” Copy and paste the URL into Safari, and the video plays flawlessly.

        It seems that websites are purposely targeting Safari, and denying users of other browsers the opportunity to kick Abode Flash Player to the curb.

      • @PhillyG: the Safari plug-in YouTube5 ( ) will allow you to view YouTube videos Flash-Free in Safari.

        This little nugget came from a highly technical piece by John Gruber about going Flash-free on the Mac:

        Here’s the million-dollar question: since your browsers have the ability to natively process and display the streaming protocols, why the hell would you ever want to go through the obfuscation of Flash? Why do we have to add plugins to our browsers in order to ask “Mother May I?” to have our data served up the simplest way possible? At the very least, why can’t the websites give me a simple and straightforward way to specify that I’d like the data served up Flash-free?

        Why not have the default behavior be Flash-free? If some user wants Flash from some esoteric reason, that’s wonderful. But don’t encumber the rest of us with this unnecessary layer of obfuscation.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Well, *you* tell *me*:

      * Adobe’s position was that you can’t serve video to mobile devices if that mobile device doesn’t have Adobe FlashPlayer

      * Apple’s position was “that is not true.”

      Now, Adobe has released a product, years late, that serves video to devices that do not have FlashPlayer on them. The complete reversal of their previous position. Apple’s position is still the same.

      So who won?

      And I’m a Flash developer since 1997. I’m very familiar with the technology, and with MPEG-4 and HTML5 as well. Adobe’s position was always BS. It came from their business criminals, it was all a vendor lock-in play, it did not come from their technologists, who would never have tried to pretend that an iPod can’t play video.