Steve Jobs pens ‘Thoughts on Flash’ open letter | iLounge News

Steve Jobs pens ‘Thoughts on Flash’ open letter

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter entitled “Thoughts on Flash,” in which he explains the company’s motivation for leaving Adobe’s Flash off of its iPhone, iPod, and iPad devices. Jobs divides his explanation into six key factors, including Flash’s proprietary nature, the fact that the vast majority of web video is now accessible without Flash, reliability, security, and performance issues, battery life concerns, Flash’s reliance on mouse-dependent interface elements, and the fact that Adobe wants to allow its developers to use Flash for creating cross-platform applications that will run on Apple’s platform, as well as on competitors’ devices, without exploiting any platform’s unique and innovative features. The crux of the letter is an attack on Flash as a battery-hogging middleware solution that is no longer necessary or desirable in an age of advanced mobile devices.

Jobs makes several scathing comments in the letter, claiming that Flash is the leading cause of Mac crashes, that Adobe was the slowest major third-party developer to adopt important changes to Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, and that the company has promised but repeatedly failed to deliver an optimized mobile version of Flash. The letter also sheds new light on Apple’s App Store business, including the statement that “[t]here are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world,” and noting that there are now more than 200,000 apps available in the App Store. In closing, Jobs says, “[n]ew open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

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Apple/Jobs = Future

Adobe’ = Past

Posted by Marshall on April 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM (CDT)


Apple/Jobs = sheeple + DRM + new accessories/product

Flash = widely accessible gaming platform

Posted by ajira99 on April 29, 2010 at 11:08 AM (CDT)


Apple/Jobs + Adobe = Fun

Posted by Dennis-TM on April 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


Does anyone else find this as entertaining as I do? I tend to side with Apple, that so many websites use flash not for games, but for advertisements, that it starts eating up processor capacity running things I don’t want run. Plus, Apple is working very hard towards making hardware that is different from the status quo (tablet, touch screen phone). Conventional cross-platform software can’t take advantantage of the new interfaces and hardware in an effective manner, and, as Apple likes to do, they will create and push the solution they want.

That being said, Flash is out there and widespread. Wihtout Flash, you miss the better part of the internet. And people are starting to recognize that when making purchases and is becoming a decisive factor in purchases of smart phones and tablet computers. Adobe includes HTML5 software (Dreamweaver) in the major software suite, and they appear willing to play nice. So Apple and Steve Jobs give the appearance that they’re not willing to even try to play nice with Adobe. So Jobs is telling the part of the population that wants Flash available, “Go somewhere else.” And it will hurt sales until HTML5 is more widespread (whenever that may be).

Posted by Dave on April 29, 2010 at 1:58 PM (CDT)


Ol’ Steve is missing the point on why people want flash. We want flash because its what 80 percent of the world’s websites use NOW. We don’t care what will be the standard five years from now. This isn’t 2015, its 2010 and we need tools that work with stuff out now, not in the future.

Posted by Dale on April 29, 2010 at 1:59 PM (CDT)


#5 (and the rest actually): Whether we want it now or not, Adobe hasn’t delivered on mobile Flash yet. Even if Apple wanted to impliment it, they couldn’t do so yet! You evidently missed that part of the article.

Posted by Dan Nicholls on April 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM (CDT)


There’s valid points on both sides.
Flash is poorly implemented, and can be a dog, hence ClicktoFlash.  Adobe has rested on it’s laurels, and as a Mac admin, I can state without emotion that Adobe’s installers and other bits suck.  Without someone to kick them in the backside, they’ve not moved on improving these issues.  Flash is no different.
Apple was in the toilet in the 90’s, and they were forced to get better or die.  Adobe needs a dose of this, and Apple seems all too eager to help.
Good, they both can improve.  I hope THAT is the end result.
In the meantime, I’m grabbing a bag of popcorn like the rest.

Posted by sb on April 29, 2010 at 4:29 PM (CDT)


#4: Has the lack of Flash really hurt the sales of iPhones to date? No. And it doesn’t appear that it will truly hurt iPad/iPhone sales of the future. I think you are overvaluing what Flash enabled websites truly bring in most cases. The upside to Apple’s mobile platform far outweighs this omission on most peoples priority list. Sure, we are missing a few videos and possibly a few fun web-games. Other than that we are missing intrusive adds that eat system resources. I have had an iPhone since the release day of the original. I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually hit a website that lack of Flash truly bothered me.

I understand you are sort of siding with Apple in the overall scheme. In that event you know that it takes a heavy hitter in the market to force positive change. Apple has done that with Windows (Win 7 sure has a lot of OS X like features) and appears to be doing it again with the bloated Adobe. I, and apparently many others, seem prepared to give a little of our convenience while this change is exacted.

Posted by Mitch on April 29, 2010 at 5:06 PM (CDT)


#8 is correct. People are slow to adapt to new technologies. when dvd players came out most people( by that I mean mainstream America) did not wanted to upgrade from vhs to dvds, and it was not until Blockbuster(At the time a heavy hitter) announced that there were going to change their entire catalog to dvds that cause for people to finally start buying dvd players.  What Steve Jobs is saying is that HTML5 is the better format and the future of web interactive media, but people seem to be so hang up with Flash.

Posted by Gian Bendana on April 29, 2010 at 6:58 PM (CDT)


@9: The analogy is a bit flawed. When a chain like Blockbuster made the move to DVD only, that was a major percentage of movie rentals in the U.S.. Apple’s iPhone OS? Far less than 1% of all web traffic; that’s not a drop in the bucket in terms of all clients connecting to websites out there, and in the U.S., where Apple has its biggest market, Android has already surpassed the iPhone OS for mobile traffic, and Android can do Flash.

Granted, Apple has a lot of mindshare, and that *might* start a trend on moving away from Flash, but the odds are that Apple’s decidedly anti-Flash position isn’t going to change much of anything. For now there’s just too many developers using Adobe’s creation suite for their work and re-learning, re-training, re-purchasing expensive software just to cater to a numerically insignificant number of users out there.

Steve’s being his usual aggressive richard self over this issue, but I suspect this is either something Apple is going to eat crow on and reverse at some point in the future (while saying that Adobe has finally addressed their concerns about stability and security), or it will just be one of those glaring shortcomings in iPhone OS devices that people accept. If a majority of web developers change what they’re doing, that currently works for 99.4% of the web users out there, just to cater to the 0.6% of iPhone OS users out there, that would be, quite literally, insane.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 29, 2010 at 10:01 PM (CDT)


^^ EDIT:
...For now there’s just too many developers using Adobe’s creation suite for their work and re-learning, re-training, re-purchasing expensive software just to cater to a numerically insignificant number of users out there is unlikely to happen.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 29, 2010 at 10:04 PM (CDT)


#10: I’m really curious where you get your numbers. iPhone OS uses only less than 1% of the web traffic? Sorry, I have a feeling that you are just making that up. Do you even have an iPhone? Us owners use the web on that device constantly. So saying the iPhone OS is only 0.6% of all web traffic means to me that iPhone/iPod Touch owners across the world never use the web on the device… That’s a pretty ridiculous statement to me.

Posted by willzilla on April 30, 2010 at 10:26 AM (CDT)


According to NetApplications, the iPhone averages 0.51 percent of all web traffic.  In April, the iPad was at about 0.03 percent.  I saw this on Engadget - if you go there and do a search for “NetApplications” it should be the only link that comes up

Posted by d-bone on April 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM (CDT)


#8: As an iPhone user for the vast majority of time it’s been available (got the first gen about 6 months after release), I agree that there have been a very limited number of times where I’ve used Flash. And I agree that games and videos are the vast majority of Flash. However, my point is that there are some people (especially younger people, who the iPhone generally targets) who do use those type of applications, and in seeing it come to other phone OS’ (namely Andriod through Google’s partnership with Adobe), Apple is losing potential sales. I’m certainly not attesting to the level of sales lost, only that it exists and is growing, and may become even more apparent with the iPad, which people expect to act more like a computer.

As an Apple stockholder, missing out on sales isn’t something I want for Apple. If the issue were solely Apple making a stand against Flash to make a moral point for the open standard, I’d vote for Steve Jobs to take a hike. But, Flash is resource- and battery-consuming, and Jobs’ push for improvement will make Apple devices better. Which means I reap the benefits not only when I buy an iPad (someday…), but when I see Apple’s profits at shareholder meetings.

Posted by Dave on April 30, 2010 at 2:29 PM (CDT)


Dave:  I see where you are coming from now. And I concur for the most part. It does have the potential to affect sales in the future. Luckily (and I am speaking mostly from hear-say here) Flash on the Android phones is not performing admirably. I hear that it is slow and is causing lock-ups on many devices as it feasts on the system. My brother has an HTC/Android phone that he genuinely likes, but does complain about how it manages Flash based webpages. He actually has started a list of sites he avoids BECAUSE of there Flash performance. I am in no way saying that this is the norm. But, if this is something that is happening to even a relatively small percentage of Android users, it bodes well for Apple’s argument against Flash. Regardless of any ulterior motives the bashers may be clinging to.

Code Monkey:  You seem to be twisting your numbers. Sure, maybe iPhone OS accounts for a relatively small amount of TOTAL web traffic. But you are lumping it in with full featured computers that have ample system resources. If you want to make a VALID point, show iPhone OS web traffic percentages compared to Android, Windows Mobile, etc. That would be a fair fight. And as I stated above, just because a phone CAN access Flash does not mean it is any kind of improvement over one that avoids it in an effort to be stable and conserve battery. Maybe Adobe WILL improve Flash Mobile. Maybe Jobs WILL eat crow and accept Flash (unlikely without the improvements). Maybe developers WILL opt to code in the Apple friendly formats to make the money that they all are in it for. But right now, it is only fodder for our debates. It doesn’t appear to really be affecting sales. Some people will prefer Android phones no matter what. They have some really nice ones out there. Some of us REALLY like our iPhones and have no intention of jumping ship over some crippled web content.

Posted by Mitch on April 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM (CDT)


willzilla, there’s this thing, you might have heard of it, called the internet. It is positively amazing what you can learn. You should really try it sometime instead of accusing others of making things up without even trying to check it on your own. iPhone/touch accounts for around 0.46%, iPad 0.06%. Don’t believe, I don’t care, it’s easy enough to look up on your own.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 30, 2010 at 9:58 PM (CDT)


@15: Worldwide, iPhone OS holds the lead in mobile web traffic by less than a couple tenths of a percent, but in the U.S., Android has already surpassed iPhone OS, and it runs Flash. I would expect within a year or two, Android will have the worldwide lead as well looking at trends. Adobe has no reason to worry about Steve’s chest thumping.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 30, 2010 at 10:01 PM (CDT)


Flash is (besides a video delivery platform) an application platform, aimed to develop apps that run on different OS’es. So, inevitably, it is a comprise in some respects. Example:
- Flash is pixel-based and will show up too small on device with higher resolutions (DPI).
- Flash assumes a pointer and for example a lot of interactive ads assume you ‘hover’ above them. iPhone’s Touch paradigm has no hover: so the user interface will break
- With flash, developers may construct their own UI elements, like a pop-up menu, that work well with mouse and styles but fails with finger/touch interface (forcing the user to use her nail for tiny buttons, for example).

Apple wants to see to it that the User Interface experiences of all apps conform to its guidelines. I applaud them for that. If that means no Flash, so be it.

Posted by dutsj on May 1, 2010 at 7:53 PM (CDT)


Code Monkey: I will not refute that claim as I do not have (or feel like looking up) which mobile OS lads in percentages. My point was simply that iPhone OS, among the other mobile OSes, was not such a finite percent. It MAY trail Andoid, but not so far as to warrant it be ignored. That would just be a poor business model. “Hey, let’s just program for Android! It leads Apple by 5% in mobile browsing anyway.” I don’t see that statement being made in a lot of meetings. Just like I would never expect those that develop for iPhone to straight-up ignore the Android market. If they truly want a decent return on investment, they will put in the extra effort to accommodate both platforms. Dollars talk.

Posted by Mitch on May 2, 2010 at 11:47 AM (CDT)


Code Monkey: I decided to take a few minutes and research your claim. Based on the first three statistic sites I checked on “U.S. mobile browsing statistics”, iPhone is still the resounding leader:

Statcounter’s Feburary market share numbers:
iPhone + IPod: 50.63
Blackberry: 23.36
Android: 12.86
Other: 13.15

AdMob’s numbers for Feburary are:
iPhone + IPod: 44%
BlackBerry: 15%
Android: 12%*
Other: 29%

What I did get from reading several different sources is that all place the actual percentage of iPhone OS at around that 44% in the U.S. They all agree that that number is in decline with both RIM and Android rising. Again, this is from a small snapshot of statistics that are spread across the web. Just like Apple does, you can find a statistic to tell you anything you want to hear. I always take a companies assertions with a grain of salt (Apple claim 64% in their iPhone OS 4 release). But this 44-50% is probably a decent compromise (based on Feb numbers). I am sure the gap has narrowed in the 2 months since, but not so drastically.

Posted by Mitch on May 2, 2010 at 12:07 PM (CDT)

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