Adobe speaks out on iPad’s lack of Flash support

Adobe has posted a new article on its Flash Platform blog discussing Apple’s iPad announcement and the device’s lack of Flash support. After calling the iPad a “pretty good new device” and discussing the various Adobe technologies that do appear on the iPad, including PDF and ePub support, Adobe employee Adrian Ludwig lambasts Apple for its choice to leave Flash support off the iPad. “It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers,” Ludwig writes. “Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers.  And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web. If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab—not to mention the millions of other sites on the web—I’ll be out of luck.” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said in February 2009 that Apple and Adobe were “collaborating” in an effort to bring Flash to the iPhone, but no further statements have been made since.

  1. It’s obvious why Flash is not available on the iPhone or iPod touch, why would Apple want you to watch something on Hulu (for example) for free when they can charge you $1.99 for it ? I believe it to be a purely commercial decision. However with the iPad I think is somewhat disingenuous of Mr Jobs to say it gives you an amazing web browsing experience whilst denying access to Flash. Some websites are so Flash heavy that they are inaccessible from the iPhone. More than anything, lack of Flash on the iPad is, for me, the major reason for not buying it.

  2. See, I on the other hand am grateful to see Apple keeping Flash off the device. My hope is that, through Apple’s share of the browsing market, companies will switch from using Flash to HTML5 and other standards. Considering how popular the iPhone OS is, I believe that companies will start seeking to make their websites accessible from all mediums.

    If Apple’s actions herald the end of Flash on the web, I say “Bring it on!”

  3. Lack of flash on the iPad is, for me, the major reason FOR buying it. I installed ClickforFlash months ago on my browser and have been surfing Flash-free ever since. This is anything but a deal-breaker, ask any of the millions of iPhone users. Besides, it’s time to step up to HTML5 anyway…

  4. People always want to claim that Apple does this or that simply to nickle and dime people for more money. Apple is a $50B company with quarterly profits now at $15.6B. They makes this profit through their laptops, and other mobile devices such as the iPod and iPhone as well as revenue from the iTunes and App stores. All that’s to say they don’t need your piddly $1.99. Apple’s thinking much bigger than that.

    The reason Flash is not on the iPhone or the iPad is the same reason Apple has stated over and over again. Flash is bloated and buggy. It wastes processing cycles, it wastes battery, and it makes the device it’s installed on less stable. And, there reasons have been proved on the smartphone competitors that have added Flash support.

    Plus, you’ll never here about such things from Apple or Adobe as it’s part of confidential negotiations, but Adobe is notorious for excising insane licensing fees. While Steve Jobs stands by the reasons stated above, it would not surprise me at all if his staunchness in that regard is a direct result of Adobe trying to be greedy when the first iPhone came out.

    Finally, Flash was a stop-gap measure to give the web a little more “oomph” than it had back in the 90’s. The web has come a long way since then and now HTML5 is on the horizon, providing every bit of functionality available in Flash, through nothing but HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Safari and specifically Mobile Safari has excellent support for HTML5 already. Flash is a dead and dying technology and when Jobs says you get an excellent browsing experience he tells the truth. As soon as developers wake up and stop building websites like it’s 1996, the iPhone and iPad will be ready and willing to deliver the best experience you can get.

  5. The lack of Flash on the iPad is a good thing. Just like the lack of Flash on the iPhone is a good thing. I don’t know anyone with an iDevice that misses the days of Flash. If the iPad becomes popular more and more content providers will start supporting formats other than Flash.

    All those people shouting foul and that Apple is trying to control all this. What do you think Adobe is trying to do? Flash is not a web standard. It’s been shoved down our throats for years and Adobe has made a lot of money from that piece of garbage.

    I don’t see the lack of Flash on the iPhone and iPod Touch hurting Apple at all. They moved another 8 million iPhones last quarter without Flash.

  6. I have the itouch, I personally don’t like the website restrictions. If it’s not really a control issue for Apple, why not make it available for users who want choice. I also hate how closed the apple consumer products are. It still amazes me why there is still no FM or sdhc expansion slot on the ipad/ipod/itouch.

  7. At first I missed flash and even my coworker who don’t have a iphone complained about the iPad not having flash. … I thought about many reasons why apple don’t want flash on the iPhone or iPad. I agree that lots of flash stuff is just waste, and that the battery will be drained because of it.

    I agree that html5 is a good move into the future …

    I missed one feature which is a webcam implemented in the iPad. I can see a student sitting at starbucks, being connected to a hotspot or at home on the sofa and doing research or reading a book when a buddy online want to chat and you can chat, and view documents over wifi with iChat. You simple touch and the iChat opens up,.. and then another buddy and you can have video converencing up with 3 people (cause of the battery)… this would be so easy to implement and that would have boosted the iPad at the keynote.

    So, I think this feature would would be a very good step forward in the iPad to be mobile connected with your friends. Don’t you thing so?

    a nice 2 mega pixel camera just for communication purposes

  8. Apple does not have a profit of $15.6 billion a quarter. Apple had profits of $3.4 billion vs $6.7 billion for Microsoft in the last quarter.

  9. Good riddance to Flash. My iPod Touch is enough for me right now; I won’t have the money for an iPad until rev 3, but Flash went from a neat platform that was pretty easy to develop on to an invasive web parasite.
    Remember when it used to be Macromedia Flash? Those were the days!
    Anyway, Apple will be fine without Flash and if sites want to get on iPhones,iPod Touch, and iPad they will offer non-Flash versions. There’s a huge market there.

  10. Actually, I also agree on the fact that Flash will be going bye-bye but it maybe is too soon. I wonder if there is an app for flash reading…after all, there is an app for nearly everything else…

  11. I don’t think lack of Flash support matters that much. I know my browser only ever crashes when I use Flash. It slows down my computer and is more annoying that helpful. Not to mention the accessibility issues.

    Flash is slow and bloated. As for internet video, major players like YouTube and Vimeo are coming out with methods to watch their videos using H264 instead of Flash and I know I’m grateful. I don’t think web video will be an issue for very long. It’s less of one every day.

  12. Obligatory;
    The iPad has at least 16GB of Flash and up to 64GB…
    Oh, not that kind of flash?
    It doesn’t need a Flash, it doesn’t have a Camera…
    Oh, not that kind of flash either…

    Do you mean ShockWave Flash? Are people still using that for anything other than cheesy webvideos?

  13. Here’s the problem: we can argue the technical merits of whether Flash should *really* be used versus html5 or other possibilities. It is indeed a horribly inefficient rendering engine for web content. However, these are the same sort of “angels dancing on the head of pin” arguments that have followed Apple for as long as I’ve been using or at least interacting with their products (c.f. external SCSI, firewire, stuffit vs zip, etc., etc.). The truth, though, is that Apple has rarely changed standards because their market share is simply not that significant no matter what their fans believe. The closest they’ve come to changing any sort of standard is that audio mp4s are now *almost* supported as a standard, but even that hasn’t been anywhere close to a total success.

    So while Apple stubbornly refuses to support Flash for their claimed 75 million iPhone OS device users, 600+ million people are actively using Facebook for which the vast majority of its content, other than the basic text feeds, is handled by Flash. And Facebook is just one example.

    Maybe the market will move away from Flash, I’d have no problem with that being the case, I am constantly amazed at the CPU hit simplistic Flash games do to my machine, but the change is not going to come about because Apple says, “no”. So long as there’s hundreds of times the people using iPhone OS devices that are willing to use and often pay for Flash based content (think FarmVille and its ilk), the otherwise insignificant iPhone OS user base is not going to turn around the market and is going to harm Apple. For Steve Jobs to claim that the new iPad was simply the best way to experience the web when it won’t even display a significant percentage of the most popular web content in the world makes him seem out of touch at best, at worst, a huckster liar hoping nobody will notice the emperor’s new clothes.

  14. I think the way to satisfy 98% of the crowd complaining about lack of Flash is for Hulu (and any other site for that matter) to make a iPhone OS app.

    Most of the complaints are about software. Software can and does change! The only valid complains I see are ones based around the hardware (lack of HDMI, 4:3 display, etc.) and even these shortcomings are not that bad given this is the initial release of the iPad.

  15. Uh, you actually think Apple would allow an iPhone OS app for Hulu? Hahahaha.

    At any rate, that’s not a solution even if Apple wouldn’t use their gated community to keep out competing services. You can’t expect every iPad user to install and load an application for every website and webgame they now just click on a bookmark in their browser for, nor for every website and webgame developer, many who barely manage to support their stuff as is, to recode their entire rendering engines for a custom app.

  16. Anytime I load a page with a flash movie, the fan on my Macbook goes to afterburner mode.

    If this is the kind of thing it would do on a portable, I won’t miss it. There has to be a better way on either Apple or Adobe’s end.

  17. Ok, thanks guys. Great info about Flash. But, it’s disappointing if I couldn’t get Hulu movies on the iPad. How hard would it be for Hulu to offer HTML5 versions (of at least the movies)? Has Hulu made a statement yet?

  18. People who bash Flash obviously have nothing better to do than criticize and complain about technology they don’t like or can’t comprehend. There are thousands of sites that utilize Flash effectively…just as there are sites that don’t.

    There are also many sites that don’t properly use other web technologies very well. You have have a choice. If you don’t like it, just don’t go there.

    Stop making useless generalizations.

  19. Apple should be sued for false advertising. The promos show web pages that can’t be displayed the way they are without flash. Someone doctored the images! Take a close look at some of the web pages shown. They have pictures in the flash boxes.

  20. Hey Code Monkey, let me re-iterate my point:

    Most of the complaints are about software. Software can and does change! The only valid complains I see are ones based around the hardware (lack of HDMI, 4:3 display, etc.) and even these shortcomings are not that bad given this is the initial release of the iPad.

    I was simply throwing in the Hulu app to appease all the damn whiners. Unless there is a valid reason to reject a Hulu app, can you tell me why Apple would reject it? IMO Hulu is a steaming pile of warm crap 🙂

  21. The biggest thing I want to see is a browser identifier spoofer. There’s sometimes when mobile webpages are good, but many other times they’re not what we want. For example, I’m always clicking on links to specific pages for both the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Transit Authority, and both sites redirect me to a mobile homepage. I’d like the option of spoofing my browser I.D. to be a regular browser so that I can click on links and actually have them work. I know this doesn’t have to do with flash specifically, but it’s about our web experience as a whole.


  22. Personally, I hate Flash but for now it’s more of a necessary evil (like advertising). If Apple or anyone else can do better, that’s all well and good, but you don’t do a long-term road closure without first providing a traffic detour.
    As Code Monkey said, it’s wrong to claim the iPad provides the best web browsing experience without it. Maybe it’s Steve’s idea of a great browsing experience. Just as the stubborn insistence that we use Steve’s EQ presets to listen to music instead of giving iPods a graphic EQ already so we can create our own.

  23. I have an iPad, and have to say that for the most part i can live very happily without flash. What would be good however would be if there was some apple app to convert flash content (like games) to run in a more stable and less memory hogging way. I have flash on my laptop and notice that a single browser session with a flash game can use 500mb of memory! If you tried that on an ipad or iPhone it would just crash I suspect.

  24. If Apple is so opposed to Flash and all of its evils why is it available on their laptops?

    Further it’s not a matter of Apple “changing the world” by driving the push for HTML it’s whether a user can access what is available now. Can he or she get to the sites they need?

    Imagine a car manufacturer decided what streets and highways you can use based on the perceived risks to their vehicle.

    Give us the means to negotiate the risks. If the Apple wizards can’t do that then at least give us the freedom to risk it alone.

    Yes, in the end it is their product and the buyer can take it or leave it but at least drop the pretense that they do what they do for us.

    As for the person stating that Apple doesn’t need the $1.99 applications think again. Those $1.99 apps and .99ct – excuse me $1.29 songs add up quickly. Look at your own checking account. Is it the few big purchases or the collective little ones that make the largest dent?

    Guess I’ll have to wait for Jobs to wise up and get over the bad morning(s) he was having during Ipad R&D or see what Sony’s answer to all of this will be.

  25. I dislike anyone restricting my web browsing experience period. I don’t believe Steve Jobs or anyone has that right. I got the iPad as a gift, and didn’t know about the adobe flash restrictions. Because of this restriction, I am unable to view more than 50% of web content. I don’t live in China, or North Korea, I live in the great US of A where we have the freedom to view what we want when we want. I will never purchase an apple product again because fundamentally, Apple is not in line with my belief system, which is simply one that allows consumers access to any and all web content.

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