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Steve Jobs Publishes Some "Thoughts On Flash" 944

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 laurensv ( 601085 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:02AM (#32030754) Homepage

    "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."
    A bit unfair in the resume as Steve Jobs does address this point in the letter:
    "we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. "
    I, for one, do see the point of that and it has been mentioned here before that from the start iPhone, iPod touch en iPad web browser are not restricted.
    This follows the same logic I see with Google. Keep the internet as unrestricted as possible and that open pltform will bring the best things for the most users.

  • Re:The actual letter (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:12AM (#32030942)

    And for those who care about the original source, it's right here on Apple's website [].

    Both Engadget and CNET are too afraid of sending precious ad clickers away from their site to link to the original of course.

  • by Ichoran ( 106539 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:20AM (#32031094)

    As someone who routinely writes in Java (or JVM-targeting languages) because it will run anywhere, it is hard to read Jobs' criticism that Adobe has been too slow with Flash support for OS X with a straight face.

    Apple's track record with Java--from having 1.6 appear years late, to dropping 32 bit support, to insisting on packaging it themselves--seems to strongly indicate that they have to be dragged kicking and screaming to cross-platform compatibility.

    Notice that Apple's only making a fuss now that Adobe is stepping up its support. That'll teach anyone to try to make their cross-platform tools work better with Apple's products, won't it!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:27AM (#32031224)

    Have you checked the AppStore? Just search 'browser' and more than Opera appears.

    PERFECT Browser 3
    Atomic web Browser
    Full Browser
    BOLT - IE Browser
    Mercury Web Browser Pro
    iCab Mobile
    Full Screen Web Browser
    Journey Web Browser
    Privately - Web Browser
    Alternate Web Browser

    There's more

    You can search on iTunes if you don't have an Apple device to verify this.

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:32AM (#32031308)

    ...but back in the 80's they made it such a pain in the ass to deal with them and make programs for the mac...

    Funny, unlike most people here, I was actually alive and developing software back in the 80s. The tools sure weren't as good and I would never want to go back. But the level of support and attention from Apple DTS back then was just phenomenal--I do miss dealing with the smaller Apple where a tiny company with a tiny product could deal directly with engineers and nearly always get next-day answers.

    On the other hand, these days, there's far fewer questions that aren't answered by the documentation ;-)

  • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:33AM (#32031322)

    Which are nothing more than different GUI for WebKit.
    And Opera Mini isn't a web browser at all.

  • by bsane ( 148894 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:36AM (#32031362)

    So how come I can't run Firefox or seaMonkey on the iPhone?

    "Last year, Mozilla claimed it was “too hard” to develop for the iPhone, claiming Apple placed too many restrictions on the user interface. Instead, Mozilla looks set to continue focusing its development effort on rival platforms."

    From: []

  • Re:Whoosh! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wingsy ( 761354 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:36AM (#32031370)
    "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."

    Then what are these icons on my iPhone home screen that open bookmarks with just a touch?

    You can make any website or URL a home screen icon by pressing the "+" button while viewing the page.
  • Direct Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by felddy ( 202203 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:41AM (#32031460) Homepage
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:43AM (#32031498)

    Your list boils down to:


  • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:45AM (#32031536) Journal
    FTA :

    Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine

    The small open source project is KHTML, a complete open-source HTML(4 at the time but I suppose it reached 5 now) rendering engine. Instead of improving it, they forked. Which is legal and ok, but not enough to recognize Apple as a standards creator on the Web.

  • by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:54AM (#32031702)

    Flash was unstable on Linux for years, but in the last two years the problem has apparently subsided. No more crashes in Firefox, not even in Konqueror. How is this possible?

    Uh, because Linux is a different OS and has a separate code base?

  • Re:Typical (Score:3, Informative)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @11:59AM (#32031792) Homepage

    HTML5 is a means to push Quicktime.

    Once upon a time, Jobs hoped that Quicktime would be in the position that Flash is now wrt to web video.

    Considering Apple's early dis-interest in supporting Linux, I'm damn glad that Apple didn't win that one.

    The fact that you're forced to buy a mac to code for the iphone should be all that needs to be said.

  • Proprietary content (Score:3, Informative)

    by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:00PM (#32031806)

    I think that Jobs' point is that web content should not be based on a proprietary "standard" .

    Many of us have been saying this for years, building websites with Flash has always been fail. And for my money it always will be.

    That does not mean that I think that everything people do with flash is awful, or that flash developers lack skill or talent. As an average netizen I'm forced to use flash apps and websites if I want to do things like browse recent car models or (until recently) use youtube and I have to say that many of the things I've seen have impressed me. But in the grand scheme of things it gets in the way more than it helps.

    Flash frequently gets used because there's nothing better for a particular task, not because it's the perfect tool or content delivery mechanism.

  • I dont understand why people seem insistent that everything they want should be included in a companies product, its not like there are not other choices. There are tons of phones and tablets out there to choose from, if Flash is a sticking point, why not get a competitors product? If say the Droid started outselling the iPhone don't you think Apple would get the hint and suddenly find Flash was important? If it doesn't happen would you also be able to summize the the masses really don't care? Its a path Apple has chosen, if you don't agree, find something else, its pretty simple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:01PM (#32031828)

    I was philosophically opposed to Apple banning automatic Flash->iApps until I saw the CS5 video.

    They showed the games ported over to the iPhone. They were crude and ugly to the point that it made SJ's case to me. Both Adobe and Apple need to kiss and make up though.

  • by berj ( 754323 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:01PM (#32031836)

    I don't know why *you* can't run The Atomic Browser on your phone. But I can.. only cost me $0.99 too.. for both my iPhone and my iPad. It still needs lots of work but it offers tabbed browsing and in-page search which are two big missing features for me from Safari. []

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:04PM (#32031896) Journal

    Don't be ridiculous. Apple is one of the participants in the H.264 patent pool, and the revenue they get from it isn't even a rounding error. H.264 licensing is extremely cheap, and you don't even pay per decoder before you're over 100K units. The H.264 consortium wants widespread adoption, and they've priced it accordingly.


  • by slacker775 ( 611528 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:05PM (#32031934) Homepage
    If Adobe was able to actually make Flash ubiquitous and platform independent, it wouldn't suck so bad and would actually be used for much more useful stuff. If you look at Java, even as much as Sun screwed the pooch with it, they got it onto dang near any and every platform and it worked pretty much the same on every one. Flash on Windows works alright, on Linux it lags way behind (64 bit version in beta for how many years now???). Mac version buggy and crash prone, no availability on mobile devices. Doesn't really sound like a standard at all. Sounds like a 'feature' just waiting to be replaced by the thing that actually works.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:10PM (#32032006)

    I think you need to take a better look at what happened.

    They forked it. Then made it useable (sorry, its sad state beforehand was substandard and hardly worth mentioning). Then gave it back, to which the original team for khtml got all bitchy cause it was a massive patchset. Eventually giving in and working together to merge some changes.

    KHTML wasn't complete, sorry.

  • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:12PM (#32032048)

    You either need a new level of "open source" here or some RMS style ranting to really understand what I assume you mean when you say "open source."

    RMS is not the last word on open source. He probably could have been, if he weren't such an ass about it. Most people have been ignoring him for a decade or more now, he's pretty much irrelevant.

    Open source means, literally, that the source code is available for free. The "Source" is "Open". Open Source. Hey, that's amazing! It means exactly what it says!

    You are free to fork the code at anytime and run with it so long as it remains open source.

    That is a feature of the GPL, not open source, and it actually makes it less "open" than the pure definition of open source. Closed source code can actually be forked as well, this happens all the time in specialized industries, where there are only a handful of companies creating software for an application. Often the customer will buy the source code in addition to the software itself, so they can make changes as needed. It gets forked, but it definitely is not open source because that source code didn't come with the software, it cost a hell of a lot extra (usually more than the software itself by a wide margin).

    The direction of the code and feature set has at least some amount of community influence. I'm not saying you're required to implement it but if someone hacks together a new encoding for Flash video and everyone in the community is using it, it's your responsibility to at least investigate merging the decoder into the trunk. This is regulated by the function of my first point.

    That has never been a tenant of open source, though the nature of open source encourages community involvement. That isn't even a feature of the GPL, so I don't know where you came up with it. For example, most of the original GNU operating system (created by RMS and his cronies, and released open source) does not fit this definition any more than Windows does (which obviously is not open source). In fact, Windows probably had a hell of a lot more community involvement in developing its feature set than GNU did.

    Most, in fact you could probably say all, successful closed source applications are heavily influenced by the community of users. This has nothing at all to do with open source, it's just good software development practice.

    Whatever open source code you release cannot ever be proprietary. No backsies.

    Again, GPL, not open source. They aren't the same thing (though the GPL attempts to force the app to remain open source). The BSD license is a much freeer open source license, and it allows for proprietary source code, so long as the code that is not originally yours is distributed as well. It's basically a "This is mine, but you can do whatever you want with it" license, whereas GPL is a "This is mine, and I'll let you do whatever you want with it IF you do x, y, and z". Both open source, but if you rate them by how they follow the spirit of open source, BSD wins.

    You're confusing the GPL, which does all the things you state, with open source, which is a classification/description that has no license directly associated with it. The closest thing to a pure open source license is the BSD license. The code is open, but there is nothing locking you in to releasing your changes if you don't want to. It is complete freedom. Anything that forces something to be "open" is, by its very nature, less free than something that does not.

    If you don't consider the above then (by your definition) the Flex SDK is actually open source []

    I missed the part where you get the source code for Flex or its SDK for free, which is definition of "open source". Like all SDKs, it is nothing more than a collection of tools, samples, and documentation to help you build Flex apps. They don't give you the source code, so it

  • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:15PM (#32032102) Homepage

    Neither the Engadget article nor the Slashdot summary seemed to include a link to the actual page on Apple's site. Seems like that would be more instructive reading than someone else's summary of it.

    So here it is [].

  • by yumyum ( 168683 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:18PM (#32032146) [] [] []

    I don't think there is anything in Analytics that cannot be done in HTML 5.

  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:20PM (#32032188)
    If he is in favour of open standards on the web, why is he flogging h264 over theora?
  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:47PM (#32032600)

    Opera Mini (not mobile) was approved because Opera Mini isn't really a web browser as much as it is a web accelerator service. Because of that additional functionality, it doesn't just duplicate the already present Safari and was therefor much more likely to be approved. I would be willing to bet that Opera Mobile wouldn't have made it through the approval process.

    The TOS for developing apps for the app store clearly states that Firefox would not be approved, why would they devote significant amounts of time developing a port that satisfies Apple's requirements if it is highly likely that at the end of months of work it would be rejected. If those lines were dropped from the TOS, a Firefox port would be much, much more likely.

  • by ( 463190 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:49PM (#32032642) Homepage

    Apple can take a BSD programmer's code, and claim it as their own.

    Actually, that is the one thing you CAN'T do with BSD code. The attribution requirements are practically the only difference between BSD and public domain.

  • by eyrieowl ( 881195 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:20PM (#32033216)

    Apple may have their merits, but trying to argue that the iPhone is in ANY way an open platform is completely ludicrous. Apple goes above and beyond to try to prevent you from using devices the way you want to, they like open-source only in-so-far as it lets them build better CLOSED systems, they try to maintain as tight a control on everything they can as is possible. Sure, they use some open source as part of the products. What of it? That makes them a user, not a promoter, of open source and open systems. Particularly the latest requirements that applications can only be developed in their sanctioned languages is the most heavy-handed, self-serving "horseshit" I've ever seen.

    And if you think Apple supporting some way for those so inclined to unlock the ability to install unsigned apps would make the phone a rancid piece of shit for everyone who DIDN'T do truly are deluded. There is ZERO reason why providing some way for people to install apps that aren't blessed by their sweatshop-priesthood that oversees the app store would make it a "bad experience" for everyone who just stuck with the store. Sorry, but I guess there IS a UID for stupid.

  • by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:21PM (#32033234)
    The SWF spec is about as open as the OfficeXML spec from Microsoft. Yeah, its there, but its not the "real" spec. The published one has lots of inconsistencies, and the official implementation from Adobe deviates from the spec quite a bit.
  • Re:Whoosh! (Score:5, Informative)

    by HanClinto ( 621615 ) <hanclinto&gmail,com> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:22PM (#32033258)

    Likewise, what about the HW vs SW argument? It's easy for code developers, some of whom I'm guessing have invested a fair about of time and training in becoming adept at flash, to just wave their arms and say "battery life is somebody else's problem". Well, yes, the hardware manufacturer's, for one. Here is a hardware manufacturer's response. Etc.

    Okay, let's talk about the HW vs SW argument. Adobe needed API support from Apple before they could add hardware video decoding to their Flash Player. This API was only added in OSX 10.6.3, and even then, won't even run on my Macbook Pro, because it's older than a year and a half old, and Apple is not (yet?) providing API support for older hardware. You can rest assured, that now that Apple has finally provided an API for developers to use, Adobe has jumped on it [], but due to Apple's half-way job of it, much of Apple hardware is not supported.

    Oh right, I forgot -- I'm supposed to believe Adobe has been the sole lazy company here. Adobe recognizes they have more resources available that they're not yet utilizing -- but these were only recently made available by Apple.

    Somehow Steve forgot to mention this in his tirade, didn't he? Convenient.

  • by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:31PM (#32033402)
    SWF is not entirely closed and your dire predictions seem to stem from misinformation. Please Read:

    SWF files can be generated from within several Adobe products: Flash, Flex Builder (an IDE), as well as through MXMLC, a command line application compiler which is part of the freely available Flex SDK. Other than Adobe products, SWFs can be built with open source Motion-Twin ActionScript 2 Compiler (MTASC), the open source Ming library, the free software suite SWFTools, the proprietary SWiSH Max2 and the web-based application BannerSnack. There are also various third party programs that can produce files in this format, such as Multimedia Fusion 2.

    Adobe makes available a partial specification of SWF.[7] The document is claimed to be missing "huge amounts" of information needed to completely implement SWF, omitting specifications for RTMP and Sorenson Spark.[8] However, the RTMP specification[9] was released publicly in June 2009, and the Sorenson Spark codec is not Adobe's property. Until May 1, 2008, implementing software that plays SWF was disallowed by the specification's license.[10] On that date, as part of its Open Screen Project, Adobe dropped all such restrictions on the SWF and FLV formats []

  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:31PM (#32033418)

    You know there are free apps for the iPhone right? A ton of them in fact?

    Did you also know that Apple makes a minuscule profit on the App store itself? They use it to encourage develops which drives hardware sales.

  • by chaboud ( 231590 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:36PM (#32033484) Homepage Journal

    Didn't you watch after-school specials? This is the drug-dealer approach.

    1. Get everyone to use your patented tech "for free" as a standard.
    2. Jack up licensing once your tech is a "must have" all over the industry.
    3. ??? (where each question mark denotes five minutes of laughing until you cry while kissing your fistfuls of money).
    4. Actually profit.

    Step 2 is likely to happen in 2016 a la this [] story. It was to be January 1st, 2011, but, surprise, there isn't enough industry adoption to pull that rug out yet. MPEG-LA will keep us on the hook a bit longer before really hitting us.

    There are, of course, those out there (like Google with VP6, open-source nutters with Theora) that are doing their best to stop the obvious and, if you have ever licensed MPEG2, repeated abuses of this tactic, but they'll feel like Cassandra [] while being called Chicken Little [].

    In the grand Apple balance sheet, yeah, it's a small motivation. Nonetheless, it's an incentive that, combined with a clear adversarial hatred for, well, everyone else, might lead to things like feature restriction. Apple may be getting a bit ahead of themselves on taking the "most hated jerks in the tech industry" crown away from Microsoft before they have 90% market share.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:56PM (#32033868)

    Darwin, CUPS, and WebKit are all open source because they absolutely had to

    I don't think you understand the difference between a BSD license [] and a GPL license []. One of the main requirements of BSD is that the copyrights must be maintained. BSD imposes no limitation on modifications or publication of source code whereas GPL requires that all source code for modifications be published if the code is redistributed. So Apple did not have to release Darwin. Because CUPS was GPL, they have to release modifications, but Apple didn't have to purchase CUPS either. WebKit came from khtml which had a GPL license. Apple, under the obligation of the GPL, did release their modifications to the code; however they are not under obligation to release code that they wrote independent of khtml. From 1997 to 2005, Apple only released the GPL versioned parts of their WebKit, namely WebCore and JavaScriptCore. In 2005, Apple released all of WebKit, some under BSD, some under GPL.

  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:57PM (#32033880) Homepage

    The flash spec is available for anyone to read, but it's not open... Last i heard you can use the spec to create a program that outputs flash files, but you cannot use it to make a program that displays them... Thus you're stuck with adobe's crufty plugin...

    Contrast this to pdf, which adobe have opened fully... Adobe's pdf viewing apps really really suck, so apple went and wrote their own which is orders of magnitude better. I would never install adobe's reader on any box and cringe when i see someone using it.

  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:33PM (#32034486) Journal

    He's not blasting Adobe for being closed, he's blasting them for going around telling everyone how open they are when that's not true.

    He fully admits that Apple has lots of proprietary stuff. In that same letter. Whatever merits that Flash might have that would warrant Apple supporting it on the iPhone, it being an open system is not one of them, and so Adobe should try to make more useful arguments.

    Not that it'll matter to Jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:17PM (#32035238)

    Get over it. Apple lavished praise on KHTML--by name--when Safari was released SEVEN years ago. They were explicit on why it was chosen over Gecko. One of those reason was it was SMALL at under 140,000 lines of code. "SMALL?" Sound familiar? It was a COMPLIMENT, not a dismissal of KHTML.

    The Apple haters need to come down out of the bell tower. It's clear many on /. didn't even get to the second paragraph of what Steve had to say.

    There's a marked difference between a web standard that anyone can implement, like HTML5, and Flash. Flash sucks on Mac OS X, Steve isn't shining anyone one. Flash routinely blows up its browsers and sucks CPU cycles like a starved vampire on Mac OS X. I've read it's not so great on Linux either. OK, given these FACTS, why do you want to perpetuate the 3rd party Flash when an comparable open standard is available? Want Flash on another OS? Gotta wait for Adobe and it might even suck.

    I've noted most folks forget that Apple has been on both sides of things. They've lost control of the tool chain such as when Metroworks Codewarrior was the standard for Mac classic development. They've done "write once run elsewhere" as NeXT with OpenStep on Windows, on Solaris and the OPENSTEP/Mach OS. They've seen how Java evolved.

  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:59PM (#32035930)

    Well guess what? No only does the iPhone support great h.264 video, sites like YouTube, NYT, and Facebook are transcoding to it, and it looks BETTER than those sites look in Flash on the desktop, using only a tiny fraction of the processing power.

    [Citati... hell, screw this, I'll answer it directly rather than cop out on it.

    Youtube didn't just start transcoding to H.264. They were already doing it. Guess what! Flash supports H.264 decoding!

    So no, it doesn't "look BETTER" because it's the exact same video feed. As for the "tiny fraction of the processing power" you should try Flash Player 10.1 [] on a computer. You know, the version that adds hardware H.264 decoding.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @04:52PM (#32036738)

    they try to maintain as tight a control on everything they can as is possible. Sure, they use some open source as part of the products. What of it? That makes them a user, not a promoter, of open source and open systems.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Bonjour and Grand Central Dispatch are projects that Apple created and then released as open source under the Apache license.

    (plus of course there are the many open-source projects that they didn't originally create, but have contributed hugely to. Such as Webkit.)

    Not that that makes them any better of worse as a company. But the idea that they only use open software and don't contribute is plain wrong. It's an idiotic attack.

  • [citation needed] (Score:3, Informative)

    by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:27PM (#32037230)

    Can you name even one iPhone game that's actually "innovative"? I'm not that easy to please, but I quite liked Fantastic Contraption and Portal.

  • by Alistair Hutton ( 889794 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:48PM (#32037548) Homepage
    You don't have to use Adobe tools to develop Flash content, there a loads of opens source languages that can compile to Flash, HaXe for instance.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:39PM (#32038098)

    All I see is Apple stagnating in the market, while Android gains.

    Apple stagnating? You're not too good with math, are you? Apple posted a 131% increase in iPhone sales in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter last year. That's more than twice as many for the math-challenged. Net profits were up 90%. "Stagnating"?

  • by ( 463190 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @07:37PM (#32038638) Homepage
    Umm, starting your posts with "umm" makes you look awfully clueless when you're the one who is STILL not getting it. Yes you can do -almost- whatever you want with BSD code, including distributing proprietary software without source. However, you CAN NOT claim it as your own. It must retain a BSD license notice identifying the original authors. I would suggest you actually read the license before commenting further, as this is the central point of it.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken