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The Surprising Statistics Behind Flash and Apple 630

Barence writes "PC Pro's Tom Arah has dug up some statistics that cast severe doubt over Steve Jobs' assertion that Flash is the technology of the past, and Apple's iOS is the platform of the future. He quibbles with Net Applications' assertion that iOS growth is 'massive,' considering that mobile accounts for only 2.6% of web views, and the iOS share stands at only 1.1%. By comparison, Silverlight penetration now stands at 51% while 97% of web surfers have Flash installed, according to Stat Owl. 'At least when Bill Gates held the web to ransom he had the decency to first establish a dominant position,' Arah claims. 'In Steve Jobs' case, with only 1.1% market share, the would-be emperor isn't even wearing any clothes.'"
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The Surprising Statistics Behind Flash and Apple

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  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:03PM (#33656696)

    He's not holding the web at ransom, he's holding iPhone and iPad users at ransom, because they are the only people this really hurts (or helps).

    Except it's Stevie, so he's not making any compromises.

    There is some merit to his position, by the way, but it may be at Apple's expense (depending on how much $$$ Adobe wants to license Flash)

    It's not a question of how great cool or widespread the Flash technology is in general.... its a question more of cost and how suitable the implementations are available for the iOS devices.

    If most Flash apps won't work anyways, there's no point in allowing a broken framework, instead of pushing the next greatest standard.

    It's risky, but if Flash is not suitable for mobile platforms it WILL be a thing of the past.

    The question I would have is --- why is the article presenting skewed numbers, and including PC and Netbook users?

    Netbook users may be more comparable to iPad users; but it's totally ridiculous to pit PC users against iOS users, and say a technology used on the web for PC users is suitable for mobile browsing

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:04PM (#33656698)

    On the other hand, Steve Jobs was right. This [] is a bigger problem for Adobe. Let them admit thet they need some help wit Flash...maybe Linus hackers can help out.

    Bottom line: Flash sucks on Android big time.

  • by Reeses ( 5069 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:09PM (#33656732)

    Just because hundreds of millions of people have it installed, doesn't mean they like it.

    Silverlight is probably closer to what Flash's market penetration would be if Flash hadn't become a compulsory install. If it weren't installed by default. SIlverlight is only installed because it blocks the path to content that people want to see. There's no SilverlightTube (yet). Few Silverlight webgames. It's only there because people want access to what it blocks.

    When the day comes where it isn't assumed you need Flash player in order to be a good Internet consumer, you can expect to see it's market share plummet.

    The numbers also don't account for the amount of frustration Flash causes people who have to use it. It's only been recently (version 10.1.18xxxxxx) that I can run Flash on my MacBook and not have it cripple the performance.

    I think they should give it a few years and see what happens. It smells a lot like the same argument that used to be thrown against Firefox when it had only been out a little while versus. IE's market share.

    Look where that wound up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:13PM (#33656780)

    I'm really curious how Silverlight got to 51% unless it's a default install for Windows 7 or something of the sort. So far I've only seen it in the wild three times: Photosynth, the Feynmann Lectures (posted by MS...), and some random video at MSNBC or similar news site. I don't even really know what it does, so how is it at 51%? I'm really not trolling; I'm genuinely curious.

    And to generalize a bit, what do statistics like this actually say? I promise you my parents don't know what Flash is, although they've probably seen plenty of irritating animated ads. The numbers they quote for Apple and Flash are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but based on their numbers for Silverlight versus the apparent usage of Silverlight, I'm having a tough time deciding what to take away from this article.

  • [citation needed]

    Can you show me how Apple's HTML5 implementation differs from anyone elses with some actual proof, or is this just biased anti-Apple ranting, just like the entire article?

    I am betting on the former, but I am willing to listen to anyone who can actually back this claim up - a fragmented HTML5 serves no one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:36PM (#33657002)

    I call bullshit.

    iPhone sales:
    By Apr 8: 50M (Official)
    By Aug 31: 67M (Estimate)


    "Apple has seen strong growth in sales this year, however, a significant part of new iOS device purchases are expected to have been made by people who already own one or more iOS devices. In other words, the number of active iOS users should be well below 100 million on a worldwide scale, which basically means that Apple's reach may not have increased dramatically this year."

    source []

    In other words, 100 million unique logins is impossible for iphones (unless each iphone has an average of 1.5 users and _all_ of them use it w/ FB), and a hell of a stretch even for all iOS devices. I'd say it's more likely that they're counting IPs, which would make more sense because mobile devices are probably connecting to many different LANs over time.

    That said, it is true that Flash performs terribly on everything but Windows PCs. Just from my own experience, Flash on a CD 1.83 Ghz Mac is comparable to a 1.3 Ghz Celeron with XP, and you can forget about almost any portable device under .9-1 Ghz. Even so, I'm not sure the solution is to lock down your platform and act like a pompous ass about it by pretending you're doing your users some huge favor.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:42PM (#33657064) Homepage Journal

    And the statistic is highly misleading anyway. Saying that 97% of computers can run Flash doesn't tell the whole story.

    First, a lot of us use tools like click2flash that report themselves AS Flash, but are NOT Flash. Why do we do this? Because we got fed up with all the idiotic Flash-based adds that make buzzing sounds at random in background windows and make us jump straight out of our chairs. These people have Flash and put up with it when necessary, but generally avoid it. Those folks are difficult to distinguish from actual Flash "users", yet they suffer a degraded experience on Flash-heavy sites, and are less likely to come back.

    Second, people have Flash largely because it came preinstalled. I don't know of anyone who has actually gone out of their way to install Flash. This means that those statistics could change on a dime.

    Third, it assumes that all people use the web equally. For some sites, iOS-based devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) make up as much as 11% of their traffic [] by volume. When it comes to ad revenue, the ratings don't matter. The share matters. It doesn't matter if they make up only 1% of the total number of Internet-equipped devices. What matters is their percentage of the traffic.

    Fourth, it ignores the assumption that people buying iPads and iPhones are more likely to have disposable income than people buying a random Windows PC. Thus, for many advertisers, one iPhone user is equivalent to several netbook users. Once you understand that, suddenly even a 1% share becomes much more significant, and a 10% share becomes a showstopper.

  • Re:Silverlight : p (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:04PM (#33657286)

    Silverlight may be a Microsoft product, but it is way better than Flash on my OS X machine. MS may be some sort of boogyman, but they managed to do with Silverlight what Adobe has failed or can't be bothered to do with Flash - make it work well on something other than Windows, which is amusing since I didn't think MS would care about making it work well on the Mac. Certainly less than Adobe should care about decent flash performance.

  • Re:Oh thank god (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ekhben ( 628371 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @08:38PM (#33657538)

    Not too worried about HTML5 'filling the void' myself. NoScript covers a large number of the potentially obnoxious uses already. The same techniques used for blocking Flash object/embed elements can be trivially extended to canvas, video and audio elements. CSS animations can be manipulated in the DOM (or at load time) to either strip them out completely, remove unconstrained animations, or toggle them on and off.

    Better yet, though, video and audio elements can just have autoplay disabled. The asset can begin to download, so you don't need to wait, but there's no way for some fuckface web designer to decide their choice about when the video plays trumps yours; no more videos starting up in two or three tabs at once. Very hard to do with Flash, very easy to do with a video element.

  • Flashblock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by valkraider ( 611225 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:00PM (#33657718) Journal
    I was blocking flash before there ever was such a thing as iPhone or iOS. Between my household and office computers I have it blocked in 7 browsers. But all 7 of my browsers are counted in that "97% of web surfers have Flash installed" statistic.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:01PM (#33657720) Homepage

    I have an iphone. I use it for, oh, a good five or ten percent of my browsing. If that. ... But if a site doesn't work on it, I tend to stop going to that site even when I'm on a different browser. Because I had a bad experience and I didn't like it.

    It doesn't matter how many page hits are iOS; it matters how many page hits are from users who use iOS enough of the time to notice that your page didn't work from their mobile browser.

  • LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) < minus language> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:09PM (#33657776) Journal
    It's super easy to have 97% installation base when the IT guys behind MOST of the Fortune 500 bundle them in their Windows desktop builds and some of the most highly-visited web sites out there (YouTube, a few news sites, a couple of amazing porn sites, etc) still require Flash. Same goes for Silverlight (though Microsoft bundled that in Windows Update, so its numbers should be higher).

    HTML5 video isn't there yet. For starters, Firefox doesn't support H.264, which is the de facto video streaming codec at the moment. Even if it wasn't, Theora doesn't hold a candle to it and seems to be in the middle of growing pains. VP8 is coming, but it isn't here yet. HTML5 YouTube doesn't work all the way yet. Worse still, differences in CPU performance with HTML5 when compared to Flash have been shown [] to be negligible. (In fact, some of the stats on that page show that Flash 10.1 is more efficient with its CPU utilization.) Worst, and most importantly, of all, tons upon tons of people are still on IE6, which doesn't support HTML5.

    I think we all agree that, on paper, HTML5 is a great idea and will do more to unite a powerful web experience with the convenience of mobile computing. In practice, however, it's still very nascent and will take a while before it supplants Flash, et. al. And I guarantee you that Adobe will be on top of that (unless they're stupid and become a numb bystander to their own death).
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @09:10PM (#33657780)

    You proceed with the assumption giving the user another choice is better, but that is not always so, and in particular, it's not great to offer the user options that will result in frustrations. See: The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less -- Barry Schwartz or This Google TechTalks video []

    In the case of 'Flash' the choice to include it means a crappy experience viewing Flash-enabled web sites in the device, VERSUS being a little upset about not being able to view the site on the mobile device, and having to go to the PC later.

    Thus... not having the crappy browsing experience with the mobile device (sluggishnes and crashing) is better, even though it also means there are fewer sites the user can pick to visit.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:30PM (#33658334)

    My laptop has been sitting here on this article for a while, and I had some other pages open in the background and a VM running windows downloading some games to play.

    I pick it up and its piping hot ... like it gets after running some hard core games. Gah, that stupid VM is roasting CPU, freaking Windows ... start top to see whats going on and cofirm ... what? The VM isn't even on the screen its so far down the process list?

    Whats eating CPU? WebKitPlugin ... i.e. FREAKING FLASH.

    Close the one web page with flash on it, and the CPU load drops down to nothing.


    I have a request, will someone please make a Safari plugin that will enable flash only when private browsing is enabled? I know that sounds backwards, but the only reason I turn flash on is to view porn, seems like if it would switch on and off automatically then I wouldn't mind nearly as much. I might even switch to Chrome if there was a plugin like that, hrm, maybe I can port one to Safari if its already there.

  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @10:32PM (#33658346) Journal

    Are there any major differences between Google's or Mozilla's HTML5 proposals and Apple's, besides video?

    No real major differences, but a load of minor proprietary webkit extensions to CSS.

    no webdev, even the very incompetent ones, will write HTML that only works for less than 10% of viewers.

    O rly? There's a ton of stuff which target the iPad and nothing but the iPad. It kinda feels like the good old days of IE6.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission