Steve Jobs on Flash

April 29, 2010

Steve Jobs' open letter "Thoughts on Flash" is a win for the open web, and a logical and well-articulated discussion of why Apple won't allow Flash on the iPhone and iPad. Hooray. But. While Jobs says he refuses to put his products "at the mercy" of a third party, that's exactly what Apple asks of all its iPhone app developers, to take the chance that Apple won't distribute their work for arbitrary reasons (they might "confuse" the user, they include porn, they duplicate functionality, they use unapproved hooks). Jobs' letter could be rewritten from a developer to Apple, and I hope someone takes the time to do just that. Turn this sentence from Jobs: "We cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms." Into this: "We cannot accept an outcome where our apps are blocked from using innovations and enhancements because Apple doesn't approve." Just sayin'.

I agree. But I agree with him overall too, and I’m happy/surprised he took the time to actually speak up on the issue. Maybe if he did that more often people might understand and maybe even agree with what’s going on in Apple’s head instead of constantly cursing them for their tight grip and closed system.

Ted Avery [+13]
Apr 29 10 at 9:46 am

I think you’re missing the point that the iPhone OS is a platform that developers use to build their businesses on. Jobs is worried about Apple’s platform becoming dependent on or crippled by Adobe’s or Google’s platforms. That doesn’t mean that they can’t play nice if they choose to. That’s why Adobe does have a presence on the App Store, as does Google. Don’t forget that Adobe keeps flash DRM to itself, crippling any third party’s chance of building a feature complete flash player and that Google keeps a lot of really important features to itself (like real access to labels), despite Andy Rubin’s insistence that they don’t use private APIs.

That doesn’t mean that Apple really should be more transparent with its rules and distribution policies, and that I took Rubin’s comments out of context (see how easy it is?). Jobs was talking about platforms, and how keeping control over them helps developers more than it hurts.

dssstrkl [+1]
Apr 29 10 at 10:30 am

If by open web you mean ‘Apples view of what the web is’ then that is accurate. I think this article offers a nice counterpoint to Steve’s.

http://jamie.kosoy.net/2010/04/re-thoughts-on-flash/

He also forgot to mention the fact that if Flash ran on iDevices, people could make apps accessible via the web, and Apple wouldnt get their cut of the pie.

Flash may or may not go away in a few years time but you should let the users of the web decide by the sites they visit and the content they like.

jguthrie
Apr 29 10 at 4:11 pm

I’m torn on this bacause I can clearly see both sides of the argument. However, it is hard to argue with the realization that an open web benefits all. Closing access and creating an atmosphere of fear in the icommunity only hurts/helps Apple’s iworld (depending on which side of the fence your on). These are clearly two different situations..

In regards to @jguthrie it’s important to remember no one is limiting your ability to create web-based apps for the iPhone, after all that’s where it all began.

Jim Edwards
Apr 29 10 at 5:20 pm

Someone did, but also included a few stanzas about the “openness”.

http://www.osnews.com/story/23224/Jobs_on_Flash_Hypocrisy_So_Thick_You_Could_Cut_it_with_a_Knife

THEIR version of HTML5 only uses a heavily encumbered proprietary codec, H.264, and they will allow no other. Open? like a WinWord .doc file?

Security? Flash might be trash but you can’t have dangling pointers in Java like you can in C. And C++ and Objective-C. And isn’t (to quote Bill Gates on IE) the browser part of the OS?

Speaking of which, isn’t the web suppose to all convert to Sliverlight instead?

Back when it was Windows 95 (not even NT which was relatively secure and reliable), it was unreliable, buggy, and a resource hog and was praised. Flash is all those same things and is condemned.

tz [+15]
Apr 29 10 at 7:08 pm

I think this is such a tired topic. Why is it iPhone OS Apps are always compared to the open web? Unlike the web, nothing but an Apple device can use iPhone Apps.

The iPad begat the iPhone which begat the iPad. Since day one back in 2001 the device has been closed and proprietary. Understand it, accept it and get over it.

brianathasport
Apr 30 10 at 7:15 am

What about Flash CS5′s “export as iPhone app” feature? If we consider that, then all of his reasons fall crashing… with the exception of “rollover” which is quite an easy fix in any case

jishi9
Apr 30 10 at 7:51 am

“Closed”? Flash can be written by independent products, and how else is one to utilize lightweight vector art, BTW, SVG? Underutilized, but it IS open.
Video? standards competition, here we go again, this time H.264 vs Flash video (which licenses popular encodings).
Bitterness? Yeah, flat-out, shame on Adobe for being SO slow porting to OSX, side-lining the former fastest platform for graphics creation.
HTML 5 stds committee oughta’ talk with Adobe to support Flash WITHOUT a separate plug-in interpreter… light… fast… now THAT would be growth-oriented.
Anachronistic? I’m part of the past being left behind, my skills in Flash and vectors dismissed… I’m moving on, but I am reminded… I am pissed. Play nice!



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