I’m sure that you’ve no doubt heard about Apple and Adobe’s tussle over the iPhone and Flash availability. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is no doubt in the middle of the argument and clearly put his foot down on the issue by releasing a large, lengthy statement regarding the matter. According to Jobs:
Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. 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.
Clearly stating why they do not wish to have Flash on the phone boils down to Apple not having control over it. I can see Jobs’ point here as they would have to support Flash on many levels and it’s difficult to do so when you don’t control the platform.
Jobs also pointed out that people don’t want Flash, they just want to view content, and that many sites have adapted their video content to work on iPad’s HTML5 engine.
Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.
Jobs also addresses those who are disappointed that the iPad and iPhone can not play their favorite flash games. Jobs up-plays the app store in that regard:
Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.
Next, Jobs talks about the security and performance issues that Flash has the potential to bring to the iPhone and iPad.
Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.
In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. 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 is apparently also something Jobs takes into account when considering Flash by saying that Flash would most likely not benefit the iPhone’s battery life.
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, 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. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.
Touch is apparently also an issue that Jobs doesn’t see working so well with Flash on a mobile device:
Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.
Lastly, Jobs does not appreciate that the apps created with Flash would not be designed specifically for Apple devices, in that they offer cross-platform development and will not have a native interface on their devices.
Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps.
So it sounds like Jobs had quite the mouthful. You can read the full write-up here if you wish. What do you think about Jobs’ opinion?