back to article Steve Jobs Flash rant put to the test

When Steve Jobs badmouthed Adobe Flash to The Wall Street Journal, he said it was buggy, littered with security holes, and a "CPU hog". It's hard to argue with the first two, but a new study claims the Apple cult leader was wrong about the hog bit. According to tests from the Streaming Learning Center - an online media …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But maybe not in Firefox

    There is a possibility that the flash add-ons for Firefox cause 100% cpu use at intervals of a few minutes.

    1. JS Greenwood


      For once, I'd give Saint Steve the benefit of the doubt and go with this interpretation of it... Flash in Firefox suddenly turning the CPU into a 100% utilised, toasty hot l'il thing is an hourly occurrence. Guess that might come under the "buggy" heading, though.

      As much as the desire not to let any new development platforms on iDevices that might have non-Jobsian revenue models attached to them irks the hell out of me, I'll happily support the torture and killing of Flash.

  2. Alien Doctor 1.1

    My ID my ID my kingdom for a title

    I suppose Jobs thinks he's the new Al Gore?

    WTF? Well, WTF?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      WTF are you talking about?

  3. Peter Cooper

    But how good is the codec?

    I assume this is the same codec itunes uses to display videos too. iTunes regularly takes 10-20% CPU utilization on videos that VLC plays with 0-1% utilization. Do Apple need to optimize this maybe? Or is the VLC one lower quality. If they used the VLC codec in Safari they might have far better performance.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: But how good is the codec?

      "What you talkin about Willis?" The standard hasn't been decided on yet!

      It's unlikely that it's going to be the codec used to play videos in iTunes since those codecs are, for the most part all 3rd party (on my machine at least)...

  4. Ed Vim


    That original Streaming Learning Center article is getting way too much online attention. The author did a limited test and posted simplistic results. Comparing Flash to HTML5 in a performance benchmark test at this time is pointless. Of course Flash will do better in selected platforms with hardware acceleration support, Flash has had years of well funded development to mature, HTML5 has not. Once there is more adoption of HTML5 and its developers get similar time and financing, THEN do the kind of tests Streaming Learning posted.

    The most obvious omission in that article is it focuses solely on statistics, but leaves out the Big Picture. (...and anyone who has any familiarity with statistical analysis knows how easy it is to manipulate results simply through omission.) HTML5 will certainly catch up performance wise, but the real issue is the massive software patent problems we in the U.S. have crippled the Internet with. Blind acceptance of Flash simply because it's the dominant web video technology won't solve the problem, it just hampers progressive development overall.

    1. Marty

      more nonsense

      you obviously do not understand how the market place works...

      when choosing any product for any function you choose the best their is at that time. Why would you pick an inferior product just because its new and may or may not get better?

      When a new product comes to market it MUST have something to offer in the way of an improvement to the current products. It doesnt have to be better in every respect but it has to offer somthing.

      only a company with money to burn will bring a product to market and keep it there because they have the money to waste if it is inferior to current products, knowing it will be improved on in later releases (original xbox anybody).

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Apparently you don't understand either

        "when choosing any product for any function you choose the best their is at that time. Why would you pick an inferior product just because its new and may or may not get better?"

        Because "best" is often subjective and people don't have unlimited budgets. Why would you drive a Fiat when a Ferrari is "better"?

        And if you have a Fiat would you also buy a Renault or a Ford just because they were slightly better at a given task, or would you continue to use the Fiat?

        The problem with "the market" is that if one player gets too big with a product that's incompatible with all the others then people start buying it simply because it is the biggest and all of the other players get pushed out - look at where MS was in the 90s or IBM in the 70s/80s.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      title goes here

      Maybe we read different articles, but the one i read says that blind assertions were being made with *no data* to back them up. And these assertions were to the effect that flash was a CPU hog when compared th HTML5 *AS IT IS NOW* years of development (or bloat and cross platform incompatibility as it is more correctly known) do not enter into the picture.

      steve 'mad as 2 balloons' jobs said flash was a resource hog. he was wrong, get over it. HTML5 uses less cpu resource as it is able to shift the load to the GPU - Duhh!.

      Also the article does point out in it's opening and closing sections that it is a purely statistical approach, it's hard to take a non stats based approach beyong pointing out that jobs has clearly lost the plot, and everything he says needs to be taken with a gargantuan pinch of salt.

      This big picture you speak of, is it anything to do with your consumption of apple flavour koolaid perchance (i-koolaid)?

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Also, I've noticed...

      ...that the site in question -- Streaming Learning Center -- seems to have a lot invested in seminars and training for streaming video based on Flash. They even have a banner ad on their home page advertising seminars in Flash-based video streaming, so I'm taking the whole experiment -- which, surprise surprise, concludes that Flash isn't all that bad -- with a very large grain of salt, if not the entire mine.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Flash should be killed

    just because of the use of flash adverts - everyone hates them...

    and under linux, it uses more CPU than controlling the LHC

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Ah ha!

      They use Linux to control the LHC? So that explains it.

  6. Robert Hill

    ..the buggy bit...

    the security bit...and, most important of ALL - the entirely owned by ADOBE bit, whom have shown themselves incapable of reliably porting Flash to 64-bit browsers natively....on little, minor-market players, like, say IE...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: ..the buggy bit...

      You'd think the developers would be able to:

      1, remove the bloody bugs that keep crashing it

      2, port it to 64 bit browsers

      Of course, it could be that they've either lost the source code or lost the only programmer they had who understood the source code. Whatever the reason, it's just another nail in flash's coffin - the sooner it dies a miserable lonely death, the better.

      1. James Butler

        Not a fan, but ...

        I'm not a Flash fan, but I feel compelled to point out that Flash, itself, is not a bad technology, any more than C# is a bad technology. Both can be used to create crappy, system-crashing work when in the wrong hands. Similarly, both could be used to create awesome, deliciously-high-performance work when in the right hands.

        So unless Flash has been crashing your browser even when all the file contains is a blank canvas, which would point to Flash itself as the culprit, please try to remember that it is the DEVELOPER who programs the crap ... it's not the tool they use to do it with.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Adobe & 64 bit

      It's not just flash. Premier Elements & Photoshop Elements - the most current versions are not supported on any Windows 64 bit plaftorm.

      I don't think they have the capability - they may have taken over Macromedia and then lost all the talented staff. Or, as Jobs says, they might just be lazy.

      Note - where is Silverlight in all of this - has it died ? Aside from access to Microsoft and Bill Gate's sites (including the upcoming iPlayer competitor), I can't see a compelling reason to install it (don't know if a 64 bit version is available)..

      1. Peter Kay

        They probably don't see the commercial advantage

        PS CS4 does support 64 bit, so it's not as if they can't do it. Elements is a lower end product, so therefore less likely to need to support more than 4GB memory. The lack of 64bit support could also be a sales tactic to encourage more CS4 sales..

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Competition is good

    The biggest problem is the only Adobe bit, because they are the only ones who can make improvements and they have proved very slow that it in the past.

    With an open standard like HTML5 everyone can make improvements. Hopefully there will be a race like with Javascript to show who's browser can render it faster. All this competition also pushes Adobe to get off their lazy ass and improve flash.

  8. Heff

    here's a theory

    Jobs is blocking flash for iPhones and iPads because it'd open security holes on those devices. Its not necessarily flash he's worried about, but opening a well-documented, well-used exploitable hole in an OS that historically exploiters dont really go balls-deep for.

    The biggest problem with homogenisation in computing is the same for nature : eventually a virus comes along and eats all your stuff. Diversity, virtually guaranteed on the motley frankenOS of a windows machine, is verboten on apple devices. homogenisation is king, which essentially leaves them with a time bomb waiting to go off.

    So when you put flash on an iphone, everyone who uses flash to sploit goes "hand me that SDK book, it cant be that hard to branch out". Apple does just fine with security when everything is developed at their end and approved by them, sticking some foreign code on their beloved little devices gives them the fear because when apple is faced with lolznewsploit, it takes them _forever_ to fix it.

    1. James Foreman

      Re: here's a theory

      I'm not entirely sure how you can be arguing that the wonderful diversity of windows is what makes it so virus proof...

      Mine's the asbestos jacket that I'll be wearing while the army of Windows and Mac fanbois shout about who's got the worst security.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Your theory is rubbish

      "Diversity, virtually guaranteed on the motley frankenOS of a windows machine, is verboten on apple devices. homogenisation is king, which essentially leaves them with a time bomb waiting to go off."

      Umm, hardware is more diverse on a windows machine, I can agree with that. The rest of your post seems to imply that you think hardware diversity somehow equates with OS diversity. It doesn't - windows users all still use windows, regardless of hardware. (Hardware diversity does nothing to close up all the horrible security holes in windows either but that's another story...(

      The reason Steve Jobs doesn't like flash is simple - it's a stinking turd that won't flush away. It has the potential to crash your browser (if it doesn't just lock it up) and it seems to be used mostly for annoying ads. It's blocked on my home computer and apart from iPlayer, I haven't activated any flash for over a year. I haven't missed it one bit!

      "Apple does just fine with security when everything is developed at their end and approved by them, sticking some foreign code on their beloved little devices gives them the fear because when apple is faced with lolznewsploit, it takes them _forever_ to fix it."

      That's right - Apple don't let anyone develop for the iPhone or for OSX. They've never let anyone develop any software for any of their platforms ever because they don't want a "lolnewsploit"

      (If only there was an icon for "you really don't f***ing understand what you're talking about"!)

      1. Heff

        good god, make some intuitive leaps here

        my point was that if one kernel-level sploit works on an iPad, through flash, it'll work for all iPads. my point on diversity was that hardware is diverse, but so is the client base : everyone is running XP/Vista/7. sure. but half of those are running non-MS Antivirals and firewalls, and a sizeable proportion dont use Outlook, etc etc. ad fucken nauseum.

        Ipad says here's Safari. Ipad says here's the OS. You make a good sploit or a woim or a trojan or whatever piece of blackhattery you like for a windows system, you cull a few thousand or a few tens of thousands of machines. Good job. You sploit yourself into an Ipad, congratulations, you can probably sploit them all.

        and they let lots of people develop for their platforms, using their SDKs, and vetoing things calling functions they dont like.

        so, once again : The hardware is all the same. The browser is all the same. the OS is almost guaranteed to be the same. you put something that makes your device look bad _and_ is a giant security hole on it, and you end up running around with an entire hardware generation of ipads that brick themselves.

        Im sorry you were unable to fill in the blanks yourself.

    3. DrXym


      Jobs is blocking flash on the iPhone and iPad because it means people can access rich interactive content without paying Apple for the privilege. If there is "an app for that", chances are there was already a functionally equivalent Flash app somewhere that did it for free. Except iPhone users will never be able to use them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Can we have a strawman icon...

        for the utterly pointless and boring bollocks that DrXym has posted please...

      2. Mike Flugennock

        Rich interactive content?

        By "rich interactive content" do you mean those goddamn' flickering, bouncing, migraine-inducing ads that won't hold still? The slide shows that take forever to load, and don't really _need_ Flash? The pointlessly over-designed Web sites that you can't bookmark, can't search, can't index? The goddamn' Smack The Monkey game?

        Forgive me if I'm overly cynical here, but I've been designing for the Web since around '94 -- after fifteen years in print design -- and I've learned that the phrase "rich interactive content" is marketing-speak for "useless glitzy shit".

        1. DrXym

          Bzzt wrong

          There are plenty of excellent Flash apps as you should know if you've been developing for that long. Animations, games, video players, interactive tools, front ends etc. Many of these would be difficult or outright impossible to do in HTML.

          It's quite obvious Apple could implement Flash in a manner which wouldn't overwhelm the device (e.g. by not launching flash apps in a browser unless the user touched them), but they choose not to. All their excuses for not supporting Flash (or any other runtime for that matter) are just that - excuses.

          1. CS3000

            Apple to implement Flash?

            Hold on... I thought it was Adobe that implemented Flash.... And thats the major problem with it...

            Adobe would be implementing a virtual machine on the phone and contrary to what you believe most people don't see that as an advantage. They want speed, reliability, battery life and security on their phone not crap adverts that take forever to download when they are on the road.

            Hell, if Flash was such a huge deal breaker then no one would buy an iPhone in the first place and customer satisfaction would be abysmal (which it clearly is not).

            I am willing to wager that the vast majority of current iPhone owners will one day replace their aging phones with yet another iPhone.

            1. DrXym


              Adobe implement Flash but Apple implement the browser that launches Flash (and other plugins). Apple could allow plugins within a page but not launch them until the user explicitly clicks on them. This would alleviate the more general concern of CPU consumption but still allow someone to run a Flash app when they need to. They could even allow the page to specify a placeholder image which is displayed in the object's space so it isn't filled with some generic plugin graphic.

              Deal breaker or not for some people, the fact is that the iPhone and more obviously the iPad enjoys a crippled web experience thanks to no Flash support. Not just Flash but also no Java, Silverlight, Real or any plugin a user might have a legitimate reason for wanting to install.

              The excuses that some are trotting out for why Apple don't do this, or why no one should care simply hold no water. Lots of sites require Flash for core functionality (e.g. most video sites) and iPhone owners are screwed.

          2. Mike Flugennock

            Wrong? well, wrong-ISH...

            Your first point's quite true, but still, as a fistful of commenters here have pointed out, the vast majority of Flash content on the Web these days is the aforementioned ads and PITA Flash Web sites.

            For every smartly-designed, elegant Flash game, presentation or interactive piece, there's probably a thousand bouncing, wiggling, stroboscopic skyscraper ads and needlessly bloated Flash-based foto slide shows.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      "Jobs is blocking flash for iPhones and iPads because it'd open security holes on those devices."

      Its not because it would kill the app store, not one bit, no, that's nothing to do with it. Flash is just a platform for delivering annoying adverts and everyone knows that isn't going to be possible in HTML5.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Go one enlighten us...

        Free apps? Of course there aren't any free apps in the App store, are there? What about all those free web apps? Y'know, like was originally (and still) available for the platform? Or the fact that the app store "operates just over break-even"? Of course those FACT doesn't help your harebrained "reasoning", do they? Nice try, now fuck off back under your bridge.

      2. Mike Flugennock

        amen to that, pal...

        It took me forever to learn Flash, and I'd been attempting repeatedly ever since it was a thing called VideoWorks running on my old 512K Mac -- with pretty much the same clunky interface that Flash has now.

        I can still remember around '95 or '96ish, when Flash first emerged on the Web -- it was called "Shockwave", I think -- and at the first demo for our design staff, one of the marketing drones at the meeting wouldn't shut the hell up about the potential for "rich interactive content", which totally set my bullshit alarm to clanging. This was also about the same time that banner ads first began polluting the Web in a serious way, and as I watched the Shockwave/Flash demo run, my first thought was "oh, sweet fucking Jayzus, here come the banner ads from Hell."

        Sadly, I was right.

        I hope Flash dies in a fire.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Diversity = different platforms

      I'm bemused by your claim that running Windows ensures diversity. If someone exploits a hole in Windows (or software running on Windows), it will be a problem common to everyone using that OS or software irrespective of the peripherals attached, or the software they run, or the specific configuration of their machine (RAM, HD capacity, etc).

      Diversity means multiple, independent operating systems (and software) in active use. If 85% of the market is running the same platform, it will naturally be the target for parasitic behaviour because there is a much higher chance the infection will spread. The huge number of viruses in the wild (and under development) targeting Windows is a symptom of an unhealthy marketplace. But diversity is only possible if (non-proprietary) standards are adhered to, particularly where the Internet is concerned, and this is chiefly where Flash becomes problematic. Here we have a single implementation of a proprietary standard across all platforms - a very tempting target for criminal activity.

    6. Mike Flugennock

      Here's another theory...

      Windows is, from all accounts, set to "hack me, bot me, trojan me, zombify me, pwn me" straight out of the box.

      MacOS isn't.

      You're welcome.

  9. tempemeaty

    FYI, the lesser of two hogs....

    Just because you find another hog that's bigger doesn't mean Flash isn't also a hog.

  10. Nerg

    A more balanced view

    is available here

    A much more informed and balanced review

    1. John Daniel


      Balanced view = he works for Adobe...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. docmurdock

    Flash...KILL IT

    time to send flash packing. Am behind Steve on this one. Seeing my CPU meter peg and my browsers constantly crash even when running the latest versions of both flash and the browser makes no sense. I am tired of this thing killing off my work. HTML 5 is a cleaner spec and not having flash around will sew up some serious code execution holes that have been open for way too long.

    the iPhone, iPad & Mac don't need flash to be successful. They need a solid OS and when leaving flash out of the picture, they have one.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite Right

      "The iPhone, iPad & Mac don't need flash to be successful. They need a solid OS and when leaving flash out of the picture, they have one."

      You are right indeed. However having a cross platform application environment will pretty much weaken the app market and hasn't this been the main reason why you cannot have dangerous stuff like Java and other runtimes on their mobile platform?

      Let's face it. It is not really about streaming videos but having an interactive content delivery system that competes with their locked in environment. As ususall, Steve Job's is diverting attention on an irrelevant direction.

      Think of education. If they can pitch iPad to educational instutitions and flash is used for delivery, there would be nothing to lock these institutes down. They could move to a better platform anytime witthout any loss. However, by eliminating such environments (threats), Apple is aiming to have custom applications for the platform which will lock the potential customers within. Of course, this strategy is one of the reasons, iPad announcement was not received well by even the Apple subjects.

      So having flash would not make Aplle more successfull but pretty much threaten the future of their lock in strategy instead.

      1. Rolf Howarth

        Lock in?

        The jury's still out on exactly why Apple are so against Flash, though I suspect things like 99.5% of Safari crashes being caused by Flash probably didn't help.

        It could be about lock in to the App Store, but in that case why are Apple so keen to see HTML5 develop into a capable standard with things like the canvas class etc.?

        More likely is that Apple don't like Flash is because they don't control the source code. HTML isn't a threat because it's open and they can develop their own mobile browser that's as good at or better than the competition, but with Flash they're at Adobe's mercy. Apple don't want to be condemned to having a second best implementation of mobile Flash and not being able to do anything about it. Much better not to support it at all.

      2. chr0m4t1c

        No, you lost me

        "Let's face it. It is not really about streaming videos but having an interactive content delivery system that competes with their locked in environment. As ususall, Steve Job's is diverting attention on an irrelevant direction."

        Bit of a left turn at the lights, there. I can't see path of your logic. Explain to me how not having flash, but replacing it with more open equivalents (HTML5, JavaScript, etc) makes people locked in?

        As far as I can see the only content that you are locked into is the apps. Music, movies and books can all be bought from someone else and loaded on these devices. Usually the problem lies in conversion, which in turn relies on whether or not the provider makes that possible, but that's hardly Apple's fault - you would be in the same boat with a device from Archos for example.

        "Think of education. If they can pitch iPad to educational institutions and flash is used for delivery, there would be nothing to lock these institutes down. They could move to a better platform anytime without any loss."

        Why the fcuk would an educational establishment base it's content around Flash? All they would be doing is getting locked into someone else. What happens when Adobe decide to not make a runtime for the "better platform"? Ask anyone running 64-bit Windows if you want to know how quickly Adobe support new platforms.

        There are a great many ways of creating cross-platform rich content, flash is only one of them but if you want to avoid lock-in and make your stuff future proof then you probably want to give it a wide berth.

        Yes, Apple want people to go to iTunes to buy all of their content, but it's not the only option. My iPod has plenty of albums on it that I purchased from Amazon, books I got from project Gutenberg and videos I converted from my own DVDs. In fact the only content on it that came from iTunes is stuff I won in a Coke promotion.

        Hardly locked in!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No, you lost me

          I thought it was obvious that there would be newer and more magical models of iPad before HTML5 takes over. Therefore I did not really consider HTML5 as a mature competitor to Flash or other RIA environments as you do. You might have a valid point, I am sure the original iPad will be obsolete before HTML5 takes over.

          I've been using flash on 64 bit systems but mainly Vista and Windows 7. So if the complaints apply to older versions, I cannot really comment.

          I believe you know more About Apple's strategy here, but is there any news about Java and other runtimes being allowed on iPad? This is what I remember from SDK agreement:

          "No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and builtin interpreter(s)… An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise.”

          I know this restriction is for the greater good, but right now, we are only discussing Flash because Adobe has spoken publicly about the situation. But I don't really think the question is about if it will be possible to run flash on iPad.

      3. Anonymous Coward


        Not really, HTML5 does basically everything Flash does, it's not going to be that long before it becomes pretty widespread either - long before it ever becomes a reccomended standard.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          HTML5 does about 1% of what Flash does - and largely theoretically at the moment. Adobe are probably very worried about video streaming dominance going west, but don't kid yourself about RIA - in this latter respect HTML5 is not the standard you're hoping for.

          HTML5 is ideal for Jobs though, enough for a few bells and whistles without being able to provide all those cute little games, widgets and toys from which may Apple so much money without doing anything very much - and for which Flash equivalents already exist in massive over-abundance, waiting to be ported and largely distributed though cost-free, ad supported models which won't earn Apple anything.

          Get real.

          1. CS3000

            Get real

            You obviously have no idea about Apple making money on the App store and this tired old theory that flash is not implemented because Apple would lose out on vast amounts of cash.

            1. The apps that flash would replace are nearly all free on the app store.

            2. Free apps on the app store cost Apple as much money to review and host as paid apps.

            3. Apple loses money for hosting free apps on the app store.

            4. There are a zillion free apps on the app store (go figure the economics)

            5. Web apps have always been available on the iPhone... just not java or Flash based.

            6. Overall the app store makes a profit, but not the vast riches you guys seem to think

            7. If the app store was so profitable then Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Blackberry etc would have had a proper competitor to it by now.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Gates - Kill him

      Evil Skeletor!!!

  12. Phillip Webster

    Maybe for pure video

    But flash is inefficient at everything. Flash games often eat an entire core for simplistic 2D worlds that if running on even the inefficient Java or .NET VMs would barely touch the CPU.

    For a long, long time expecting flash to run above 10fps at high resolutions would result in disappointment.

    Even now, only the Windows version of flash has any consistency of sensible framerate with the Linux version especially dying, losing sound or dropping to under 5fps. It's so bad that browser restarts every few hours are required to keep using flash on Linux.

    The technology is flawed. I'm no fan of Apple, in fact I'd be as happy to see them go as flash, but they are correct in saying flash is a CPU hog.

    1. Anonymous Bastard
      Thumb Down

      Not what I would call a solution

      On linux try turning off Compiz or any window manager that uses hardware acceleration. Flash's acceleration is incompatible with those. Without it can run much faster but is still as buggy if not more so than the Windows equivalent.

      I haven't tried alternatives like Gnash or swfdec because they lack support for newer version files.

      (Thumbs down for closed-source, proprietary vendor lock-ins)

    2. Grant Gibson


      @Philip Webster: Interesting point. Can you direct me to the games sites that are based on Java or .NET please? You know, those equivalents to Popcap or Miniclip that you're obviously referring to...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @phillip webster

      "with the Linux version especially dying, losing sound or dropping to under 5fps"

      Umm , I can run full screen iPlayer on linux with a perfectly respectable frame rate on my fairly wheezy laptop.

      Though I'll give you the browser dying - adobe have yet to release a flash plugin that wont crash firefox after a couple of hours especially if you liberally use the back button.

    4. Paul Garrish


      My son plays simple platform games on Friv using a P4 3.2 with 2GB Ram. It maxes the CPU all the time - my old Amiga 500 could have done those half asleep. Trying to play HD video using iPlayer - it can't, and yet the same machine can play HD video using VLC/MediaPlayer with only 10% CPU thanks to a cheap HD grfx card.

      Flash is pants, used by numpties to write crap code..... but cos everyone has it, it's the easy choice. Can it.

      1. Phillip Webster


        @Grant Gibson: There aren't the sites as such, but if you're incapable of googling for "java 2d game" or ".net 2d game" then I can't help you anyway.

        I work a little with OpenTK ( which provides access to the OpenGL API from .NET/mono allowing full 3D acceleration with a much lower CPU cost than Flash seems to produce with a platform independent binary as well.

        @boltar: That's kind of my point, it's unpredictable. Presumably on your wheezy laptop you aren't running any fancy window manager? As Anonymous Bastard pointed out, Flash doesn't like these and I suspect they are causing some of my problems. Running on plain XFCE is pretty safe, still get crashes though.

        What I've found is the easiest method to cope is to have several browsers installed (FF, Chrome and Konqueror on my current install) with flash support as Flash works most reliably with a clean start. So when you open a page and Flash fails, just copy the URL and boot another browser. Not ideal, but it works. Mostly.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I heart Reg

    Good to see sensible comments here at El Reg. I read this story on another site and was disgusted by the blatant flash fanboyism taking place in the comments there, along with slating of HTML5 even though the standard hasn't been finalised yet!

    It seems there are a lot of flash-loving "web designers" who haven't heard of accessibility, usability, security or common sense.

  14. Volker Hett

    Ok, so flash is best on Windows

    That's fine with me, I have XP Home on my EeePC, Oh, wait, no GPU support there.

  15. Etherealmind

    And the battery bit

    I would think that allowing flash to use the GPU means higher battery consumption. And the higher memory use means more drain again.

    I'd rather have quality video codec in H264 or Off Theora than a cheap, buggy, battery burning Flash codec.


      Heat as energy

      Just based on relative heat generation, it looks like letting the GPU do the work is MUCH more efficient than trying to do everything "in software".

      Flash uses h264. There's just the question of how efficiently that is going to be implemented and whether or not it will take care of speciality decoding hardware. It's all about how well the decoder is written. Adobe's dragging their feet in this respect.

  16. Thomas Davie

    Missing the Point

    The point here is that Apple controls the HTML 5 implementation on the iPhone. The test shouldn't be comparing against *all* HTML5 implementations and concluding that lots of them suck so flash is no worse. Instead, it should be comparing against the HTML 5 implementation written by apple, on an apple designed platform and concluding that HTML5 is 2 to 3 times more efficient than Flash. It's no good claiming "flash is at least as good" because Mozilla's implementation is the same speed, when Mozilla's implementation won't be used – apple's will.

    1. David Webb


      "Instead, it should be comparing against the HTML 5 implementation written by apple, on an apple designed platform and concluding that HTML5 is 2 to 3 times more efficient than Flash"

      I agree, they should have tested HTML5 on Safari, on OSX..... wait, they did, what was your point again?

    2. Shell
      Thumb Down


      The implementation of HTML5 in Safari on iPhones etc is based on the open source Webkit engine, of which Apple is just one contributor. Google Chrome is also webkit based. To suggest that Apple 'controls' is perhaps a little unfair?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Flash causes a majority of Mac crashes"

    Given that the only thing that ever crashes on my Mac is Safari and that it does tend to be when websites are playing particularly offensive flash adverts, I can well believe the above statement.

  18. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The real reason....

    Is that 90% (or whatever) of the iPhone Apps can be done with free Flash Apps.

    1. Toastan Buttar

      Flash and multitouch

      Can Flash handle a Multitouch-equipped input system ?

    2. Volker Hett


      I don't see any way to access the GPS, the Compass, the acceleration sensors etc.pp in flash.

    3. CS3000

      The real reason?

      "Is that 90% (or whatever) of the iPhone Apps can be done with free Flash Apps."

      Yes... but those 90% of iphone apps that could be done in Flash are probably free anyway.

      Your understanding of app store economics seem to be based on what other ill informed Apple hating bigots are saying.

      Get this... Free apps on the app store LOSE money for Apple. They cost the same to review and host as paid apps and there are zillions of them.

      Newsflash... Apple turn a small profit on the app store.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Here's what Steve is really saying:

    "Anyone can write apps in Flash. If they can use those on their iPhones and iPads then I can't control the devices from my top-secret control-freak paranoia centre and we can't charge even more money on top of the insane price we already charge. Therefore, Flash is a CPU hog. Inform the brethren of this new Truth and let it be repeated across the land via the usual blogs."

    Flash does suck, but not as much as Jobs.

    1. CS3000



      The only apps that flash would replace are ones that are free on the app store anyway.

      Free apps LOSE Apple money as they cost the same to review and host as paid apps.

      The app store turns a small profit, not the vast wealth you think it brings in.

  20. Bilgepipe


    "With Safari on the Mac, Flash did show a significantly higher CPU utilization, but Ozer attributes that to Apple's use of GPU hardware acceleration with HTML5."

    So.... he found evidence of Flash being a CPU hog, but passed it off as something else entirely? In effect he's proved Jobs' point, then bullshitted his way into another conclusion entirely.

    Wake me when a professional does the same study.

    Mines the one with ClickToFlash in the pocket.

    1. arkizzle

      Re: Hmmmm

      Also, Flash video (iPlayer etc) makes my GPU kick up to ~30% + the ~70% on my CPU, so I'm not sure what that quote was about.

  21. nobby

    can someone do a "feature" comparison?

    I'd be interested in reading a comparison of the features of Flash compared to the features of HTML5.

    I hear a lot of noise about the video in HTML5 but not much noise about any other feature. I agree that video is a major use of flash, but it is only a recent feature. I recall from my youth that Flash used to be used for all sorts of things, such as the Games someone mentioned above. Hey, I remember getting a Tweenies DVD for my niece and finding out that it was a bunch of Flash (or was it shockwave i dont recall) 'programs'.

    so: can we replace all the functionality in flash with HTML5? or do we need to just do Video though HTML5 and all the rest of the flash-y stuff through a small, dinky 'flash lite' like we used to have in te olden dayes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not...

      ...go read the HTML5 specs for yourself?

      There's one big advantage with works on 64bit!

  22. big_D Silver badge


    The problem with Flash, well, there are too many problems to count, but a big one is its over use in non-essential areas, like adverts and menus.

    If you have 20-30 tabs open, each with a couple of Flash objects in them, the whole machine grinds to a halt. I run with FlashBlocker or ClickToFlash in Firefox, Chrome and Safari. I'm happy to look at adverts to help fund a site, but I won't watch Flash adverts...

    On top of that, I use NoScript in Firefox to help keep unwanted sites, like Doubleclick or Google's ad services or analytics from running scripts in my browser.

    I like Chrome and Safari better, in some ways, to Firefox, but until they get an equivalent to NoScript, they will remain 2nd/3rd tier choices for me.

    Flash is just too insecure and overused where it isn't needed. It causes more problems than it solves.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      this post has no title, just words and a tune

      @ big_D 02.12.10, 13:52gmt:

      "I'm happy to look at adverts to help fund a site, but I won't watch Flash adverts..."

      Why the hell should you? Y'know the sites are paid by the advertisers whether your browser actually displays their shit or not... the same way that radio or TV networks are paid to run the commercials whether or not you leave the room for a piss or a beer, or tape the show ahead of time and fast-forward through the commercials.

      I have no guilt whatever about ad blocking, leaving the room, fast-forwarding, etc... the Web site, radio/TV network is paid no matter what.

  23. The BigYin

    One other problem with Flash... the DRM. Just look at the iPlayer. There's a few "third party" apps (even ones the BBC supported and promoted!) that respected the rules about how the content could be streamed/stored and they cannot be used any more because of the RTMP bullshit in Flash.

    This would be easy to get around, but illegal due to the DMCA bullshit (and similar bullshit laws in Europe).

    This is, basically, caused by Flash IMHO (well, more correctly, Adobe and the BBCtards). And it's all bullshit.

    It's the same crap that has foisted DVD regions on use, allowed Sony-BMG to think it was "OK" to install a root-kit and so on.

    A second problem with Flash is that it is not truly cross-platform. Flash on Linux sucks ass. Really. I will agree that Linux is a (very) niche market, but if you are lording yourself about as a "standard" you'd better bloody well work across ALL platforms (and that also includes simialr performance across ALL browsers).

    This neatly segways into the third problem with Flash. Obviously Adobe can't do all the above, they are a bottleneck. Flash is not open, no one else can help them. There are projects that try to ape Flash (e.g. Gnash) and they have one hell of a time. If Flash was open, the individual OS/browser teams could make sure it works correctly on their platform. No bottleneck.

    This would also solve problems one and two at a stroke and the world would be a happy place.


  24. Scott Mckenzie

    So, to clarify...

    ... Steve Jobs said that Flash is a CPU hog, and the test claims he's lying and then goes on to prove that actually he's correct. Sure in some browsers on some OS's there is no difference, but do we really think that Steve cares about Firefox on a PC, i'm going to go out on a limb and say he doesn't.

    What an amazing study, brazenly state someone is wrong and then back it up with facts proving yourselves complete idiots. Well done.

  25. Grant Gibson

    Ok, to all the haters - lets discuss this sensibly for once

    Ok, lets start with a simple agreement - all commercial sites need to run display ads to survive (even the mighty Reg).

    Next, advertisers demand animation. Outside of Google Adwords this is non-negotiable. It's a brand building exersise, and static / text ads ain't gonna cut it.

    So, lets kill Flash because Steve says so. Now what? Two options:

    1) Have animated ads that run 30fps video in an HTML5 container.

    Pros: No Flash.


    - Massive bandwidth consumption (min 1MB per 15 sec ad)

    - Massive CPU usage once you've got 2, 3 or 4 of these running on a page.

    - AdBlock now needs to disable the HTML5 video element, so we're back to where we started.

    2) Animate ads using Javascript.

    Pros: No Flash.


    - Hugely inefficient as the client runtime libraries (that were a one-time, 1MB download from Adobe) are now using different technologies (JQuery, YUI, etc) and having to download those for every ad view on every page.

    - The optimisations are less efficient (e.g. you need to deliver a PNG24 to do Alpha transparency, whereas you can give a JPEG alpha trasparency in Flash).

    - There's no potential for efficiency through compiled code or hardware acceleration -- every frame of movement is being calculated from complex math functions and rendered at runtime (This is a huge deal for eased, tweened animations which all professional ads use. Flash calculates these at SWF compile time for much greater efficiency.)

    In short, whatever way you do animation in HTML5 it's guaranteed to be: Higher bandwidth; more CPU intensive; harder to disable as it's built into the fabric of the page, not via an easily disabled plug-in.

    Why does Steve hate Flash? Yes, there are performance concerns, but those could be addressed. The real reason is that it takes away Apple's gatekeeper status. Want to play a game on the iPhone? Go to the App Store. If Flash was there, anyone could make iPhone games, apps, etc of equal quality to most App Store apps but without the Steve approval process.

    Popcap games on your iPhone? Say goodbye to 50%+ of those 59p game downloads that make up so much of App Store sales.

  26. Francis Vaughan

    Critical analysis? We've heard of it.

    I don't supose there is any chance the el Reg might apply a bit of critical analysis to this pathetic bit of work? As so eloquently pointed out above, Flash isn't simply about video, and indeed the whole argument about Flash on iPhones isn't about video either. For all useful intents the cited study is useless. It fails to address the core point of the argument. Once upon a time we might have seen The Register take such shoddy work to task. Perhaps because it attacks Steve Jobs, El Reg's bias is allowed to show a bit.

    A test where browsers with and without Flashblock enabled were pointed at a slew of popular sites, and the power overhead of the Flash crap measured would have been a worthwhile study. If you want a really interesting headline - multiply it by the estimated number of computers with open browsers and work out the carbon footprint of Adobe Inc. It won't be pretty.

  27. lukewarmdog

    flash flash flash

    It doesn't really matter whether flash runs well or badly - Apple aren't going to let it run at all because they have their own thing they're bringing to the table. The discussion over quality is moot at best. Time to get back to watching flash movies and playing flash games on my PC which doesn't crash or run really slowly every time there's an advert on a webpage.


      The corner cases...

      This isn't about the big high profile web sites that might have the resources or interest to specifically re-code their site for Apple's benefit. This about the rest of the web and some obscure website you've probably never heard of and possibly only 2 or 3 people care about. Flash sucks but it is widely enough used an implemented to be a defacto standard. There are even attempts to clone it with free software.

      If any other platform or vendor tried to shut out flash or ignore it they would be universally condemned. There would probably also be anti-monopoly noises.

  28. Igamogam


    I can't believe the great Reg. posted this story days after it first crawled out of a hole in the ground as what amounts to a crap piece of cut-n-paste "journalism".

    The company that did this “research” has such a vested interest in justifying their existence (I mean, these sell flash training…).

    I’m beginning to lose faith in your incisive nature.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Mac crashes?


    A properly written OS shouldn't be taken down by a non priviledged user application going bananas.

    Perhaps in modifying BSD Apple quietly went the MS route and put all sorts of priviledged operations into its user mode graphics handlers, who knows....

    Unless the comment is BS of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mac Crashes?

      Flash doesn't crash OS X, it crashes Safari, Firefox, etc. Those browsers are now being re-written to isolate Flash and prevent it from bringing down the app.

      But understanding the facts would have got in the way of your rant....

  30. Shady
    Jobs Horns

    Flash should win out

    Just to annoy Jobs, and for no other reason.

    If Jobs loved Flash, then I'd say kill it

  31. BobaFett

    Flash is still a hog on Macs

    Regardless of relative video performance to HTML5, Flash performance is still far worse on Macs than on Windows when compared on the same hardware:

    If you look at the GUIMark scores, Windows gets 46 FPS with 54% CPU usage while Mac OS X gets 28 FPS with 140% CPU or to put it another way 85 fps/cpu versus 20 fps/cpu. As such Flash can easily hog 100% CPU on Macs while on Windows it'll be using less than 25% CPU and going relatively unnoticed.

    1. andy 45


      Dont blame Flash - Those test results just mean Macs R Crap....

  32. QI
    Jobs Horns

    The real reason

    The real reason Flash is not supported is due to commercial implications. How can Apple make 30% on each app sold from AppStore if users browse to websites on phone and use a Flash app instead (around 90% of the apps done for iphone be done using Flash).

    For this very same reason Java is not supported as well.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with blocking Flash or Java or whatever, at the end of the day every commercial company is out there to make money. It is users choice to buy that product or not, nobody is forcing users to buy iphone/ipad.


      Flash blocking

      Agreed. Much of the Apple store becomes redundant once you have access to a full featured web browser. Many things that are treated as separate "apps" in the Apple store would be parts of larger compilations in a PC package or just be considered data files.

      Blocking of flash or java should be something that's under the control of the end user rather than some sort of Big Brother figure.

    2. CS3000

      The real reason?

      The vast majority of apps that could easily be replaced by Flash web sites are free on the app store...

      That means that not only do Apple receive no money when someone downloads a free app, it still costs Apple just the same as a paid app for hosting it.

      In other words they LOSE money on every free app on the app store....

      Bang goes your comical "commercial" theory.

  33. Doc Spock

    Performance Issues on OS X

    Flash doesn't have access to low level hardware acceleration on OS X. However, if Flash used the QuickTime APIs (the framework, not the player) for video content it would. I'm sure there are similar CoreGraphics and CoreAnimation APIs for general drawing stuff that would provide hardware acceleration.

    Quote from Gruber on

    "The Apple way to play H.264 is through the QuickTime APIs (and really, as of Snow Leopard the new QuickTime X APIs), not to write your own H.264 playback code that seeks to directly access hardware accelerators."


    Interesting post about Flash Player 10.10 at

    As for people mentioning the plethora of Flash games that the iPhone, etc cannot play, how many of them expect a keyboard/mouse interface and wouldn't work with a purely touch-interface? (e.g. in-game cursor, tiny menus, keyboard navigation). At least apps written specifically for the iPhone will be playable.

    1. Nikolaus Heger


      This is a long-standing dispute between Adobe and Apple. Adobe says it "doesn't have access" to the hardware acceleration APIs. Apple says Adobe has access, but is just unwilling to use it.

      The fact that Flash is such garbage, and the fact that 99.9% of Flash out there is used for ads that I do not want to see makes me think Apple's right. I mean, other programs manage to use those elusive hardware accelerated APIs - VLC for example. Flash is a CPU hog - it's just badly implemented on Mac.

      1. CS3000

        Flash Blocker

        I totally agree about flash being complete garbage... For a company the size of Adobe to not be able to produce something better is just shameful. As with Photoshop they seem more content to add bloat year upon year than actually innovate.

        Best plug in I have ever come across is ClickToFlash which not only speeds up browsing considerably but has the added advantage of blocking all that inane advertising we are subjected to....

        I agree with having a choice... And I choose not to see dumb adverts.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flash - > HTML5 -> H264

    The main drawback of Flash is that it is a closed standard. You are reliant on Adobe for new implementations and features.

    HTML5 is better because it's an open standard, which anyone can implement.

    But if they're going to use h264, you're back to square one.

    1. Ammaross Danan
      Thumb Down


      Remember when Micro$oft decided they wanted to extend upon the capabilities of HTML? only goes so far until you can ram new standard revisions through the red tape.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge


      If there's a standard video codec then hardware decoding can be rolled into the chipset (on a mobile device). But that won't happen for flash.

  35. Bilgepipe

    Adobe Employee

    Oh, and the icing on the cake is that this guy apparently works for Adobe...

  36. TheDude
    IT Angle

    Flash is the life-raft that Adobe clings to

    Let's face it, Adobe isn't a big player any more. They're in danger of losing the kudos that they bought in a series of mergers a few years ago. Photoshop is massively pirated and other image editing software can offer a similarly useful feature set for peanuts of free.

    This is their last stand before they go the way of Real Networks and Yahoo.

    1. Solomon Grundy


      Adobe is a HUGE player in the enterprise world and that won't be changing any time soon.

      Photoshop isn't Adobe's primary product you know.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Totally idiotic not to use H.528.2 instead of H.264 - That crap is so outdated...

  38. David Pickering


    just thought id say i couldnt really give a toss either way - html5 is nice tho - does the ipad browser support html5? just curiouis - even if it did im still not dumb enough to buy one

  39. Tony Martin

    Safari is very stable without Flash

    I installed ClicktoFlash, and now all my pages load much quicker, and Safari never crashes. Unbelievable!

    1. CS3000

      Safari is very stable without Flash

      I can second that one!

      And the added bonus is surfing is so much nicer without the flash adverts glaring at you.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    both flash, and html5, fail in seperating content from presentation.

    it's a step backwards.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Being held hostage by Adobe

    Can't say that I blame Jobs for not wanting to wait (weeks? months?) on Adobe to release flash player updates for Mac after they've released the ones for Windows platforms, of course.

    1. CS3000

      Being held hostage by Adobe

      You have hit the nail on the head.

      Just think of the nightmare Flash on the iPhone would be if Apple had to rely on Adobe to fix security and bugs in it. Let alone compatibility issues with each release of iPhone OS.

      Apple were correct in not allowing any virtual machines on the iPhone.

  42. CS3000
    Jobs Halo

    A few home truths

    I am so tired of hearing (and replying to) Apple hating bigots... Here are some facts:

    The vast majority of apps that Flash could replace are free on the App Store.

    Free apps on the App Store cost Apple as much to review and host as paid apps.

    Apple LOSE money by hosting free apps on the app store.

    There are way more downloads of free apps than paid apps.

    The app store turns a small profit for Apple not the vast riches some people think it does.

    Apple make their money by selling the Phone and the App Store is a major selling point.

    A developer gets 75% of what is charged for his app which is a huge return.

    There are now 160,000 apps on the app store.

    A vast majority of those 160,000 apps are pretty crap and are free.

    Free Flash apps are in general also pretty crap... and its hard for a developer to make money except by making Flash adverts.

    If not having Flash on the iPhone was such a huge deal breaker then the iPhone would be a complete financial failure.

    If not having Flash on the iPhone was such a huge deal breaker then iPhone users would be totally dissatisfied with what they have bought and would not be considering replacing their iPhones with another iPhone.

    The only people that really care about having Flash on their phone are free to buy some other companies product.

  43. CS3000

    Real world tests

    I dont need a very complicated test to see how poor Flash is on a mac and here it is:

    Start Activity monitor.

    Start a YouTube video.

    Note how the CPU performance goes nuts and the bottom of your laptop glows red hot.

    Quit YouTube.

    Browse over to the Apple web site and watch a video there i.e.

    Watch with amazement how beautifull the quality is and how the CPU performance barely hits 5%

    Thats it. And thats all your average user is ever going to do to evaluate performance.

  44. simonb_london

    Flash don't work on Linux

    Why is Flash the _only_ video player on my machines that can't play full screen video without dropping more frames than a glazing factory during a magnitude 9.8 earthquake? What do all the other players like Mplayer and VLC do right that Flash can't?

    1. FreeTard

      @Flash don't work on Linux

      Hardware accelleration, or the lack thereof.

      I've the same issue on my X31.

  45. Jeff 11
    Dead Vulture


    "Flash not a CPU hog", says agency whose core business involves, oh, wait, Flash video. In any case, the point about Adobe's recent optimizations is immaterial; the most basic media players have played video on lightweight systems for years and years, under Windows and Linux, using the same codecs and same bitrates without the NEED for hardware acceleration. As loathe as I am to agree with Jobs, Adobe's implementation has been historically inefficient.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Try Flash With P3s

    I have a friend who does IT for a school district. They still have a TON of Blue Man Group Chips, and probably won't be upgrading in the near future.

    Don't run Flash on a P3, unless that's all you're doing.

    That being said, the one thing that Flash definitely has going for it, and that folks don't seem to understand, is a HUGE community of experienced, creative and HIGHLY INVESTED artists and designers.

    I guar-ron-tee that they won't be eager to let go of it.

  47. gameplyr

    Ommitting part of the problem

    Part of the problem is that the comparison of CPU usage seems to have only compared the CPU usage of Flash video which uses the H.264 video codec. Why doesn't this compare HTML5 to the significant majority of Flash video on the web which used the proprietary Adobe Flash video codec as well? Of course Adobe should be capable of equaling the performance of HTML5 with Flash when exclusively looking at H.264 video content considering it is essentially playing the same thing. A key question is why both having Adobe Flash involved at all to play a video codec that can be played properly without having any proprietary software / technology used as a wrapper.

  48. Andrew 19


    X with hardware acceleration is more efficient than X without hardware acceleration.


    I don't think that's a valid claim unless you replace "more efficient than" with "faster than", in which case you have a tautology.

    Any algorithm will be faster under hardware acceleration, regardless of how efficient it is.

  49. laird popkin

    This test was meaningless

    This test misrepresented Jobs' claims, and thus produced irrelevant results.

    Jobs said that Flash was responsible for the vast majority of web browser crashes, not Mac OS crashes. This is not just possible, but likely.

    Jobs said that Flash was a CPU/resource hog. He said Flash, not just Flash playing h.264 video. It is obvious, but irrelevant, that playing h.264 video efficiently comes down to CODEC performance, which requires hardware acceleration to be CPU efficient. But to support Flash, you have to not only support h.264 video (which is very rarely used in Flash), but the full range of Flash scripted interaction, and of course all of the older CODECs. And that is what consumes CPU and RAM that makes Flash suck battery/CPU/RAM. To disprove this you would need to run a wide range of interactive Flash apps, and try to prove that none of them are slow or bloated. Or you could try to prove that Flash Lite is not only efficient but runs all Flash on the internet. Good luck with that.

    Jobs' actual claim was that to support the full range of Flash on the web, the iPad would have to have the CPU and RAM of a desktop computer, at which point it would cost much more and have a much shorter battery life, and would on top of that be less stable (because Flash is unstable). So his interactive media strategy is to support h.264 video, and JavaScript/HTML5, which are well defined and can be optimized to run efficiently and reliably.

  50. Bruce Ordway


    I am a database admin & web master. I would never use flash in anything that has to do with business.

    and.. I am an artist & really like the idea of flash. I use Director still & it is an easy transition from complied app to the web.

    But.. it is a hog. It is buggy. It is a security liability.

    I'd really like to dump it in favor of something open.

    HTML5? What is the development client for this?

    2D graphics, animations and controls?

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