Jobs goes bananas on Adobe Flash in open letter

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Date: Friday, April 30th, 2010, 05:59
Category: Uncategorized

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In the wake of several weeks of back and forth between Apple and Adobe regarding Flash, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has posted an open letter 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.

Per Engadget, here’s the breakdown:

It’s not open: “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.” HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, on the other hand, exist as open web standards.

The “full web”: Steve responds to Adobe’s claim of Apple devices missing out on “the full web,” with an age-old argument (YouTube) aided by the numerous new sources that have started providing video to the iPhone and iPad in HTML5 or app form like CBS, Netflix, and Facebook. Regarding the games argument, he states that “50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free.” If we were keeping score we’d still call this a point for Adobe.

Reliability, security and performance: Steve states that “Flash is the number one reason Macs crash,” but adds another great point on top of this: “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.”

Battery life: “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.”

Touch: Steve hits hard against one of the web’s greatest hidden evils: rollovers. Basically, Flash UIs are built around the idea of mouse input, and would need to be “rewritten” to work well on touch devices. “If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?”

The most important reason: Steve finally addresses the third party development tools situation by writing that “If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.”

Jobs concludes in saying that “Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the feedback section.

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