Steve Jobs Writes An Open Letter – Reasons Out With People Supporting Flash For Mobile
Steve Jobs has decided to reason with people who have criticised him for locking out flash from his mobile devices.
The criticism Apple has faced over not allowing Flash in iPad, iPhone and iPod has led Steve to write an Open Letter titled “Thoughts on Flash”. In the letter Steve has explained in length why Apple is not adopting Flash technology in its mobile devices. The letter starts with Steve giving a brief history of the relationship between Apple and Adobe and how they have worked together successfully over a period of time. However Steve also hinted that when Apple was almost about to die back in the 90s Adobe did not come to save Apple i.e. -> THIS . But then comes the meat of the whole thing. Steve gives 6 points explaining in length why Apple’s decision of not having Flash in its mobiles devices is NOT a business decision.
1). Flash is NOT Open
Steve ridicules the claim made by Adobe that Flash is Open. He goes on to say
“Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.”
He then says that Apple supports HTML 5 because it is open.
“HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.”
2). Almost all Videos on web follow H.264 format and are viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Steve also points out that Apple’s devices can not play Flash Games – for good, App store itself has more than 50k games, many of which are free.
3). Flash has problems with reliability, security and performance
Here Steve retraite his old claim that Adobe is lazy! in improving its technologies.
Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash.
In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.
4). Flash Sucks Battery
Steve points out that using Flash drains the battery almost twice as fast
To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.
When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all.
5). Flash “Roll-Over” feature does not work with “Touch”
This one is quite obvious and strangely I don’t remember any one pointing out this draw back of using Flash with Touch. Unlike with mice, “Roll-Over” can’t work with touch screen devices.
Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot.
Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.
6). Apple can NOT allow a layer of 3rd Party software come in between the platform and the Developer
Now, this was nailed by John Gruber’s of Daring Fireball some time back and then Steve also replied to an E-Mail pointing out John’s post saying “We think John Gruber’s post is very insightful and not negative”.
Steve says that allowing a 3rd party to develop an application (like CS from Adobe) that can be used to make iPhone and iPad apps will make Apple dependent on changes done by that application. He says
“We know from painful experience that letting a third-party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.”
“This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features.”
Sounds quite logical.
Conclusion- Flash was made for the clunky owl PCs and does Not fit in the Mobile world.
He points out that Fash inherently is not fit for mobile devices for a lot of reasons as it was made during the “PC and mice era” and Flash should not be pushed beyond the PC. He also goes on to say that open standards created during the mobile era like HTML 5 will win on mobile devices (and on PCs)
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
New 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.
Good one there Steve! Things look quite logical now on why Apple choose to side line Flash from its mobile devices.
Image Credit -Godfather-Steve Jobs Image – TechDusts