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Steve Jobs Publishes Some "Thoughts On Flash" 944

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what's-under-that-turtleneck dept.
teh31337one writes "Steve Jobs just posted an open letter of sorts explaining Apple's position on Flash, going back to his company's long history with Adobe and expounding upon six main points of why he thinks Flash is wrong for mobile devices. HTML5 naturally comes up, along with a few reasons you might not expect. He concludes in saying that 'Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice.'" Tacky that his first point is that Flash is proprietary, when Apple restricts the apps that can be installed on the phone. Pot, meet kettle.
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Steve Jobs Publishes Some "Thoughts On Flash"

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  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:05AM (#32030814) Homepage

    Turtleneck calling the kettle black?

    My choice? It's Nokia. At least they have a happy medium of openness, functionality, and usability. Yes, they have Flash.

  • Re:Flash More Open? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:09AM (#32030882)

    Not to mention that you know iPhone will always lag waaaayy behind the desktop versions of Flash.

    Meanwhile, hackers will make Flash on iPhone the preferred target just for bragging rights.

    Flash is a CPU hog on *any* platform, it has to either go on a diet or go away.

    PS:Can't wait for the annoying HTML5 ads to replace the annoying Flash ads. Is a HTML5-blocker add-ons in the works?

  • Re:Whoosh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Touvan (868256) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:11AM (#32030918) Homepage

    Did you catch his ridiculous shift there? He said Flash Player is closed (didn't mention swf format, or open screen project), then he switched to talking about "open standards" - platform on one hand, standard on the other.

    Swf standard vs HTML standard - there are important differences, including one being engineered entirely by one company, and the other engineered by a group of companies. But they are both well defined standards.

    To compare a runtime to a standard is simply boneheaded.

  • by dskzero (960168) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:11AM (#32030926) Homepage
    Not only is he spitting out a bunch of ridiculous arguments, he's also trying to force his way into the hands of the users. Wake up Jobs, no one wants a PC without a fucking keyboard and a fucking mouse. Your iPad is cool, and that's about it: we all know it's not powerful enough to do anything interesting, so you're not going to sell that besides that tactic. No need to lecture people about how bad is Flash: we already know, and the people who might care about it simply aren't really buying your magic tablet.

    Keep your niche public with hipsters and old women and let the rest of the world enjoy technology at its own pace. Geez.
  • Re:Whoosh! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:16AM (#32031028)

    When he talks about open, he's referring to HTML5/CSS/JavaScript, which you DO NOT need to submit to the app store.

    Which is nice, but the reason you don't need to submit them to the app store is because THEY AREN'T APPS. They're webpages. Which is sort of stating the obvious, but you lose out on quite a few things by being limited to HTML5.

    The biggest one being that rather than being an icon on the "home" screen, you're a bookmark in the web browser. Users first have to open Safari, and then have to open your webapp, which is tedious and annoying.

    You also lose out on minor things like access to the accelerometers, access to 3D, access to the vibration feature, access to the sound device (so no recording or playback except what HTML5 offers), and so on.

    If you want to create a Flash-like webapp for the iPhone, you're back into closed, proprietary features. To implement touch, you have to throw those lovely HTML5 standards out the window and implement proprietary Apple extensions. So, yes, it's the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Re:The actual letter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by owlnation (858981) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:32AM (#32031296)
    Thank you. Please mod parent informative.

    The actual letter is more useful. The endagadget article is a troll -- hardly surprising considering the 4G iphone theft.

    Personally, I don't care what Jobs reasons for standing up to Flash are, the net result is good for everyone. Flash is not user-oriented. It's a top-down technology. It has needed to die for a decade. Adobe are not actually to blame here really, they didn't develop Flash after all, Macromedia did -- Adobe just bought them.

    And considering the mess that Google has just made over the YouTube redesign (virtually unusable now with Firefox on a Mac) -- the sooner Flash dies the better for everyone using the Internet.
  • by TwineLogic (1679802) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:32AM (#32031310)

    I remember the battle between Sony's higher-bandwidth Beta-Max standard and the rival standard, VHS. Sony took the position that it would not allow the publishers of adult films to sell their product on Beta tapes. In other words, all "naughty" films for home viewing were on the lower-quality VHS standard.

    The VHS format used a larger, heavier tape to encode less bandwidth and therefore lower video quality.

    Some of you may recall the VHS won this format battle. Many contemporary observers assigned causality to Sony's choice of censorship in the medium they controlled. Soon, we will observe the same scenario played out again: Apple's iPad with software to control content, or Google's Android on tablets and a more anarchy-oriented medium?

  • by gaspyy (514539) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:34AM (#32031336)

    This has caught my eye:
    "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."

    Well, according so some benchmarks, Flash actually performs better than HTML5 on Android [visualrinse.com].

  • Avatar's effects were all done on Linux. I believe WETA uses Linux exclusively for effects.

    If Creative Suite moved over, a lot of audio/video/effects professionals would move to Linux. I read an article about how sound engineers are moving over to Linux because of the RT kernel.

  • games? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Weezul (52464) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:43AM (#32031486)

    Jobs says "There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world." To me, this rings quite hollow :

    First, the vast majority of recent truly innovative small-form-factor or two-dimensional games are primarily flash games, possibly with ports to mobile platforms like the iPhone. Yes, the best such games are often rewritten for the iPhone, but ..

    Second, the vast majority of older two-dimensional games are outdated console games that now run under emulation under linux, mac os x, and windows. I'm unsure if how well the iPhone handles these games, especially old arcade games, given the lack of keyboard. I'm also unsure how well the emulators run under Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, etc. either, maybe the iPhone has the best emulators from among the mass market phones.

    I know however that my N900 offers almost all the Linux emulators, the ones I've tried play well thanks to the keyboard, even dosbox.

    Third, there are still vastly more strong titles for recent consoles or desktops that'll never play well on an iPhone within Jobs lifetime.

    Jobs does however state the all important caveat "entertainment titles" by which he presumably means all movies sold via iTunes too. Yes, other mobile platforms are not making movies available like Apple, true but kinda irrelevant.

  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:46AM (#32031572)

    Adobe's security track record has been pretty terrible. Flash and Reader security vulnerabilities are the most common way for malware attacks to get access to systems today. One of the main reasons Apple insists on having control of their products is to deliver a good user experience, and they currently enjoy a very positive reputation for not getting infected by viruses. I'm honestly surprised that lack of security isn't number one on the list.

    With the market penetration of the iPhone, if it used Flash it would be a huge target for malware authors. While not having Flash can be irritating, disenfecting my phone would be far worse.

  • by AresTheImpaler (570208) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:11PM (#32032028)
    No, flash plugin doesn't work perfectly fine on other macs. It is a resource hog and incredibly buggy. It's the only reason Safari has crashed in the past year or two. Since I installed click to flash [github.com], I haven't had a crash. Well, that's entirely not true. Once in a while I let flash run on certain sites. When I do that, there's always the possibility of a crash. On top of that, flash on a mac is as bad as the linux implementation. It's slow. For some non video sites, certain flash animations can use more than one core. Usually those same sites, do not use that much cpu power with the windows plug in. Flash on a mac is really really awful.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:11PM (#32032036) Homepage Journal

    Flash on mobile sucks.
    That is true. so far Adobe has failed deliver a good mobile flash solution.
    They produced "Flash lite" which sucks to high heaven.
    I am not an Apple fanboy at all but lets be honest about this.
    Instead of crabbing about Apple not letting Flash on the iPhone why not show us a good Flash experience on say? Windows Mobile? Adobe has had years to produce that. Or on WebOS which they announced about a year ago and still has not seen the light of day. I bet Android would put it on to day if it exists. How about S60 on Nokia devices? I am sure the N95 could run it.......
    Really as far as Flash on the iPhone goes Adobe... PUT UP OR SHUT UP.
    If all we get is another halfbaked Flash-Lite junk program then who cares?
    Over all I am happy that Apple pushed for HTML5 as a solution. Those same sites work just great on my Android phone and my wifes Palm Pre!

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:26PM (#32032258)

    It's amusing that you think that's the security model. Why would such malware exist when Apple approves the apps and distributes them?

    Because Apple engineers cannot catch every trojan submitted. And I think that's Apple's security model because that's what they presented in their whitepapers. If that isn't their security model then why did they go to all the trouble to create a signing framework when they knew it would not stop the devices from being jailbroken? Apple controls the distribution, so why the keys?

    No, the reason for the model is so that Apple can tightly control the competition.

    What competition? Other phone makers? How does this control them? Define your terms already.

    Alternative runtimes prevent that so they are not allowed.

    Alternative runtimes not only break Apple's security model but the put the available feature set and performance of applications behind a bottleneck that Apple does not control. It's just good business to not allow other companies to be able to reduce the capability of your product. I don't see what it has to do with competition though.

  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:50PM (#32032658)

    sopssa wrote: "Open Source: Nobody restricts where you can install the application, and you get the source code too -- the best situation."

    No, open source is about "source" code, not the applications or products you build with it. It doesn't guarantee you'll be able to run the compiled products on a platform, since that would also promise open source programmers will fix all the bugs that stop you from running their code on a platform. You've got the source, but that's only half the battle.

    sopssa continued: "Proprierary software: You dont get the source code, but nobody is restricting where or if you can install it, as long as its freeware or you have paid for it."

    First, proprietary software is not code. Licensing proprietary code or software often demands where you can deploy it in the license, but without that license the law says "nowhere". Heck, even some open source code such as GCC places demands on how the licensed code is deployed; you don't agree with the terms of the license and you again have no freedom to deploy it.

    sopossa concludes: "Apple: Not only will you not get the source code and in most cases you have to pay for it, Apple is in total control what applications the user is allowed to install. They dont even give you the option to decide yourself."

    Again, this conflates source and product, but I get the sense that sopssa's real complaint is about the locked down practices of saying what you can run on your Apple products. Even then you do have options; if it's a personal itch you need to scratch you can jailbreak or become a developer and deploy to a small handful of iProducts. But if you want to make "the next big thing" available to all platform users Apple does demand to play by our rules or go to a different playground.

    When viewed as a fledgling platform that's still struggling with performance and security, that's not an unreasonable demand. When viewed as a multi-billion dollar, uber-popular computing platform, it is downright offensive. I vacillate between these perspectives regularly, but fortunately Apple's products are the only computing product around.

    If Adobe becomes wildly successful on Android, Apple might change their mind about adoption. But Apple has made it clear they aren't going to be the pioneer with Flash on a mobile platform.

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:56PM (#32032754)
    Steve Jobs did not claim Apple is an open-source shop. He said this: "Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. " Why is this so hard to understand? Are there other motives other than being a pure "open source advocate" here? Hell yes. Is apple more open when it comes to web standards than Adobe? Sure. Do I care? Not much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:59PM (#32032814)

    What really gets me is the ultimate gall of Apple in suggesting that "Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open."

    This is a bald-faced lie on Jobs' part.

    The reason that Flash became the de-facto standard for Web video is mostly because Adobe didn't limit what people could do with Flash, nor charge extra for Flash-servers or flash-embedding technology. You bought the software and you could do whatever you want with it. Flash provided a technical solution to the problem of "how to embed video on the Web." Indeed, the open standards of HTML5 were established in response to the previously unknown demands for Web video that Flash uncovered simply by being "open" enough to not limit programmers from solving that problem!

    But there was another program, I remember, before Flash, that sought to bring video to the Internet. I believe it was called "QuickTime." And it was proprietary as hell, requiring expensive server hardware to stream effectively. Additionally, all it did was play video; one of the advantages of Flash over Quicktime was that it enabled video to interact with animation, hyperlinks, Web commands, Javascript - it was far, far more "open" than Quicktime ever was.

    Quicktime never took off for Web video except on Apple's own trailer page, despite, it seems, being one of the de facto standards for video in the professional market at the time Web video was taking off. In fact, any embedding Web site, such as YouTube, Vimeo, ExposureRoom, etc., will *convert* files uploaded in QuickTime to a more open format of H.264.

    This is not to say that Flash is without flaws. It is proprietary software and thus is a poor standard for the Web. As it stands, however, it *is* a standard, precisely because Flash came to the scene first and in many ways, developed the demand. The best HTML5/Canvas can do is play catch-up, as developers of Web animation already know how to use Flash - and use it quite well. In fact, the main problem with HTML5/Canvas is that Flash comes with quite an awesome *visual tool for editing Flash* - the Flash application.

    In fact, the Flash development application could, with relatively minor changes, be used to export HTML5/Canvas instead of Flash format animations. Maybe that'll be in CS5 or CS6 - I don't know. I do know that if Adobe thought there was demand for it, they'd put it in before someone else made an HTML5/Canvas visual editing tool - lest it cut into Adobe's Creative Suite sales.

    For Apple, Final Cut Pro is a standard in filmmaking and video editing; simply because Cinelerra isn't good enough yet. For Adobe, The Gimp can do photo editing and photo manipulation as well as Photoshop in 95% of cases; it's that other 5% that keeps Photoshop on top. On the other hand, sometimes open standards dominate proprietary ones - such as the ubiqutous LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stacks for Web development, rather than Apple's ridiculous "Xserve" computers. The reason for one platform's dominance over another has nothing to do with whether the software is open or not - it is entirely due to whether the software is demonstrably "better" according to the most important criteria. You'll choose GIMP over Photoshop every time if your most important criteria is "cheaper" but for most professional image editors, that's not the case.

    So what makes Flash "better" than HTML5? First, Flash is compatible with more Web browsers in use, barring the slim minority on the iPod devices. It's also easier to develop for, first, with many Flash developers having up to 7 years of experience with the language and visual tools. Third, and this is the biggie - Flash has it's own visual tools for development.

    Which is why Apple's complaining about Flash not being an open standard rings absolutely hollow. If you control less than 2% of the market, blocking a de facto standard to try to replace it for one of your own doesn't harm the standard, it just mak

  • by Raffaello (230287) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:02PM (#32032892)

    As another geezer who was actually there in the 80s I have to second your view. Apple lost the PC wars not because they made it hard for developers. They lost the PC wars because they were first out of the gate with a GUI system and took that opportunity to charge a price premium for their hardware. When the IBM PC platform became open - not by IBM's design, but by clean-room reverse engineering - there were now 50 manufacturers competing in that space which drove the price of an IBM-PC compatible to levels far below Apple's mac offerings.

    Apple's developer tools and third party developer tools (Symantec and Metrowerks) were always adequate or quite good, as was their documentation. Apple's problem was with consumers and businesses, who wanted a low initial cost (and TCO be damned), not with developers.

  • by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:11PM (#32033030)

    Just because people like something doesn't make it "good." Plenty of people like recreational drugs, but that doesn't make drugs "good," they are unhealthy.

    Plenty of people like using Apple proprietary models, but the Apple way is arguably unhealthy for society (and perhaps illegal? anti-trust?).

    I dont particularly want to start an argument over whether Apple is good or evil... my point is that just because people like something doesn't mean the something is good.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:15PM (#32033098)

    All I see is Apple stagnating in the market, while Android gains. (Android supports flash fully next release, btw)

    Besides, since when has more choice ever been a bad thing? Apple is FAR more proprietary and restrictive than Adobe, and Jobs is downright wrong that Flash is not open. You can download the specification off their website and start porting flash to the iPhone right now if you want (though you'll never get your app into the App Store). Adobe isn't exactly known for their open source efforts, but they do a hell of a lot more of it than Apple does.

    Everything Jobs said was an excuse, a justification to mask why he really does not want to support Flash. The truth is he doesn't like the lack of control over flash - he wants more. With Safari, Apple and Apple alone gets to say how HTML5 content is rendered on the iPhone. They can break things they don't like, or simply make them less useful. It's all about control, and he doesn't have it with Flash, so he wants flash to go away.

    To see Apple's commitment to "free" and "open", just look at Google Voice. They rejected Google's app for no apparent reason. Not only that, but all third party Google Voice apps, which had been previously approved, were removed from the store citing vague "duplication of features". Exactly what features of the iPhone tie in to Google Voice? Google didn't even bother to try with Navigation, Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile will get it, but not the iPhone - it isn't worth the risk.

    Seriously, if you actually think Apple has an altruistic motive for openness in any application (standards, web, A/V, whatever), you are fooling yourself.

  • tacky? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:39PM (#32033536)

    Tacky that his first point is that Flash is proprietary, when Apple restricts the apps that can be installed on the phone. Pot, meet kettle.

    how is that tacky? this is an opinion piece written by a person... to that person, apples products are not proprietary... he has full control over them. if they need to be updated to make something else he owns work, he can do it. flash, on the other hand, is very proprietary to him, and if he needs to update it to make something else he owns work, he can't do it...

    seems like a pretty valid point, and not tacky at all.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:52PM (#32033794)

    If you want to sell your software in App Store, you are not allowed to redistribute the source code or your app outside of it.

    Uhm, wrong.

    You most certainly CAN. You can't distribute references to the iPhone API. This is nothing new and developers have been dealing with this sort of thing for years. You create a very simple shim between your internal application model and the iPhone SDK bits and you don't distribute the shim. The rest is entirely distributable.

    Its not hard really if you have half a clue.

  • by beakerMeep (716990) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:21PM (#32034272)
    Some of those are old criticisms (from 2008) leveled by the developer of Gnash about RTMP and Sorenson Spark specs being left out. But Adobe has since released the RTMP spec but they cant release the Sorenson stuff, as it's not their IP. Kinda a moot point though as SWFs mostly don't use Sorenson codecs anymore.

    Certainly you may have other valid complaints as to their deviation, and I cant speak to that. But having some complaints as to how the spec is written don't really equate to dismissing their entire initiative towards opening up the spec. And it certainly isn't reason for Steve Jobs to tell us what software to use.
  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:28PM (#32034398) Journal

    Lots of people like McDonald's so they must be good too.

    Apple = McDonald's

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @04:05PM (#32036008) Homepage Journal

    "Flash 10.1 for mobile devices, which is in BETA "
    Which means that it hasn't shipped that is the definition of beta. Yes I knew that it was in beta but it is a closed beta still and about a year late.
    So yea I am still saying put up or shut up.
    Instead of trying to force Apple to put flash on the iPhone by crying about how sad it is that they are blocking it deliver Flash on other devices that doesn't suck.
    Actually a lot of what Jobs said does make sense.
    1. Flash isn't set up well for touch apps. That is the truth. Will that change? Maybe but currently flash isn't well suited to touch.
    2. Adobe has not delivered a good mobile Flash yet. You said they have a beta and yes they do but it is a closed beta. Maybe you have an inside track with Adobe but just how good it will be is right now a big unknown.
    3. Flash is a performance hog. Yep current flash viewers are slow and eat CPU cycles like they are going out of style. Which means
    4. It will eat battery life. Is also true. Again when the mobile version comes out we will all know for sure but it still isn't out yet.
    5. HTML5 is the open standard for video and Flash is a closed propriety technology. That is true. I hope that people do move to HTML 5 for video.
    6. Flash and Adobe products as a whole have a bad history when it comes to security. That is true. Flash and Acrobat both have had a lot of security issues. How big of a deal that is on a mobile phone? Maybe not much.
    Adobe really is to blame. They blew it with Flash-lite and now really need to prove themselves.
    What will happen if Flash 10.1 doesn't suck is simply this.
    People will buy more WebOS and Android phones because Flash works on them and works well.
    Steve will get up on stage and say this, "We never said that the iPhone would never have Flash. We said we would put Flash on the iPhone until it was done right! Now I want you all to see Flash done right!" the crowd will go wild as Steve demos Flash on the iPhone and or Pad, Steve will introduce the Adobe's CEO. Adobe's CEO will kiss Steve's ring and tell everyone how grateful he is that Apple made them do Flash mobile the right way!
    Bird will sing the sun will shine and all will be right with the world.

    So yea I stand by my statment, Adobe needs to put up or shut up and a closed beta isn't putting up in my book.

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