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Steve Jobs Declares His “Thoughts on Flash” [Update: Adobe Responds]

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Many people have longed for Flash on the iPhone. Apple’s position on this matter is that Flash is a resource-heavy third party plugin that is not an “open” web standard. Without Flash on the iPhone, users cannot view certain web pages, videos, and play Flash games.

Apple has advocated HTML5 publicly as an alternative to Flash video. Adobe has also assaulted Apple for being too controlling and not accomodating Flash for the iPhone and iPad.

People have argued the merits of both having Flash and moving away from the old standard. Steve Jobs has finally taken the time to way his thoughts on the matter–and boy did he ever go for Adobe’s jugular. Here are some excerpts:

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. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?

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.

Apple has pretty much laid everything out on the line. What can Adobe respond to now? What do you think of Steve’s thoughts?

Click here to read the full entry from Apple’s website.

Update: Looks like Adobe’s CEO responded to the thoughts of Steve Jobs via a a live interview with the Wall Street Journal. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen had this to say:

  • The technology problems that Mr. Jobs mentions in his essay are “really a smokescreen,” Mr. Narayen says. He says more than 100 applications that used Adobe’s software were accepted in the App Store. “When you resort to licensing language” to restrict this sort of development, he says, it has “nothing to do with technology.”
  • Speaking about Mr. Jobs’s assertion that Adobe is the No. 1 cause of Mac crashes, Mr. Narayen says if Adobe crashes Apple, that actually has something “to do with the Apple operating system.”
  • Does Mr. Narayen use an iPhone? “I have a Google Nexus One device,” he says. And what about the iPad? “I think it’s a good first-generation device. I think you’re going to see just tremendous innovation in terms of tablets.” Adobe is, in fact, working with “dozens” of tablet projects with other companies, he says.

For Adobe to respond so quickly to Steve Jobs’ open letter, Apple has Adobe playing right into their cards. Adobe is on the verge of losing everybody’s support with Flash, and their blunt defensiveness is a testament to this. One thing is for sure, trying to respond to a carefully crafted Apple press release in a live interview is not easy. Good luck Adobe!

[WSJ]

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  • Half_Pint

    That's an interesting excerpt, thanks for posting it.

    I really enjoy reading this site, but I have to say that hunting through those useless little popup links to find a real one is really getting on my tits. I understand that sites like this cost money, but surely the number of ads here is already pushing the limits of good taste? Please consider removing those most patronizing ones. If I need to learn more about “Web Pages” in the middle of reading an article, I'll bloody well use a search engine.

  • djepsilon

    The Flash debate is an interesting one. I work for a company that produces eLearning for various clients and we currently use Flash for most of our delivery. Some of our biggest piss offs are a) having to buy ridiculously priced software every couple years from Adobe and b) dealing with inconsistent web standards across the board. No two clients ever seem to have the same version of Flash on their systems. Sometimes they don't have it all for reasons Mr. Jobs points out nicely.

    The problem is Flash is a great development tool for us as the stuff we produced is much more then just video. If there was another program we could use to do our authoring I'm sure we would jump ship, but right now there is nothing that compares. It seems to me though that Adobe should be embracing HTML5 and other “open” languages into their software so that users can have the best of both worlds. Afterall, isn't it the ridiculously priced software where Adobe makes it's money anyway? Let the users decide how they want to deliver and the superior web standard will win.

    I can see both sides of the argument but it seems like Apple and Adobe are arguing over different things. Adobe has a problem with Apple's “closed” Operating Systems whereas Apple has a problem with the way Flash is “closed” on the internet…… news flash guys, OS's and the Internet aren't the same thing! Maybe once both parties get on the same page they'll be able to figure this one out.

    PS. It's pretty awesome that to get Apple's full SDK suite you just have to give them your email and not $2400.00

  • Great insight! Thanks for sharing your first hand experience.

    Gary

  • “.Adobe is on the verge of losing everybody’s support with Flash, and their blunt defensiveness is a testament to this.”

    Nah. Flash is here to stay for a long while, despite his Jobness' efforts to kill it. It's too integrated in the web and the majority of machines out there (PCs, not Macs or mobile devices) can use it just fine. And if Flash Mobile works as good or better than expected, then Apple will truly stand out as the lone mobile OS maker that was too stubborn to provide a complete web experience to it's customers.

  • “.Adobe is on the verge of losing everybody’s support with Flash, and their blunt defensiveness is a testament to this.”

    Nah. Flash is here to stay for a long while, despite his Jobness' efforts to kill it. It's too integrated in the web and the majority of machines out there (PCs, not Macs or mobile devices) can use it just fine. And if Flash Mobile works as good or better than expected, then Apple will truly stand out as the lone mobile OS maker that was too stubborn to provide a complete web experience to it's customers.

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  • Dave

    2 years later….

  • Olivier

    5 years later…

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