Thoughts on Flash

Today Mr. Steve Jobs published a lengthy piece titled Thoughts on Flash throughout which he explains Apple’s position on Flash and the reasons behind its absence on the best devices ever invented.

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

The piece tackles the main issues brought up against Apple in an attempt to outline the significant reasons as to why Flash is absent on the iPhone OS platform. First, the opinion that Flash is an ‘open’ format is put to bed.

The next argument surrounds the opinion that “the full Web” is limited on the basis that Flash powers the mass majority of video on the Web. While true, all of the major players have already adapted to the open standard format that is HTML5 video. Next.

Next is security. Flash is plagued with Windows XP syndrome in that since it’s so popular, it’s a prime target for cracking. There have been plenty of security bulletins and emergency releases on the Flash platform and while it’s nothing specifically against Flash as inferior in any way, it’s a fact of its position.

Battery life is a huge concern when it comes to Flash. While hardware acceleration is coming; it’s not here yet and the Web has already progressed through HTML5. The Web moves too fast and by the time hardware acceleration is common place, the dust will already have been settled.

We also need to keep in mind the interactions we have with Flash. It’s all via mice. Touch doesn’t translate very well and Steve goes on to explain a bit more about that in the piece. Long story short, much of the Flash stuff people are smitten with would need to be (at least in part) rewritten to function properly.

Last, Steve touches on what he mentions as the most important reason: the third party aspect. He explains that Adobe’s first goal with Flash is cross platform development, and that often leads to sub-standard experiences and applications. He dictates that Adobe “has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms” — so true.

Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.

I whole-heartedly recommend that you read the piece, in its entirety, without any bias you may have. Thoughts on Flash.

My stance: regardless of this fighting, that coffin is so full of nails it looks like it were made of stainless steel.