The Reg agreeing with Steve Jobs? That's new.
Steve Jobs has posted a lengthy "open letter" explaining Apple's antipathy to Adobe's Flash. "It's old. It's rubbish for mobile. Namaste", would have been succinct, and quite adequate, but His Steveness feels it's worth a 1,700 word detour. Jobs points out that open standards such as HTML5 and SVG vector graphics are the way …
For most of the IT industry's relatively short life, programmers and nerds have been its High Priests, acting as gatekeepers and controlling every aspect of your access to their religion.
The most blatant exponent of this religion is the Free Software Foundation, which was founded towards the end of the earliest phase of personal computing. This foundation worships the god known as "Open Source"—a god they didn't even invent.
"Open Source" is a programmer-centric concept which is only of direct relevance to other programmers. In the early '80s, when the FSF began, most computer users could be assumed to be either programmers, or at least IT-literate.
Today, 99% of computer users today *don't* know how to program, and a substantial majority would have trouble recognising the power switch, so a programmer-centric approach to IT is a lot less useful. The FSF has become the closest thing the programming community has to a union, including a strong protectionist stance against anything they see as a threat to the status of programmers within the IT industry.
The FSF cannot survive in the world as seen by Apple. Apple's corporate philosophy doesn't see computers as a god-like gift to humanity which must be protected from the unclean masses. Instead, the *user* is placed on the pedestal. His needs *always* come first—even if it means writing applications for Apple's computers is made harder as a result. (For example, it's not uncommon for a major OS X release to break some old APIs to encourage the use of newer, more powerful APIs which offer a richer user experience. Microsoft would be lynched if they tried that.)
Programming, as far as Apple are concerned, is just a job like any other. It's not special. It's not the alpha and the omega of IT any more.
Hence all the fanaticism. It really *is* a religious thing, with programmers and fellow IT-literate nerds on the one side, and consumers on the other. (In the middle is Microsoft, who try hard to please both camps, but with mixed success.)
I used to program computers for a living, but quit many years ago when I realised programming in English was far more fun than programming in C++. (I still program, but only as a hobby.) So I've seen the industry from both sides of the fence.
I think Apple generally get it more right than wrong at the moment. (They're certainly not perfect, but they're getting more hits than misses. I do wish the media would give Ive and his team a bit more credit though.)
However, I feel the FSF is a dinosaur and needs some serious reform to make it more relevant. For example, there's no point in pushing for "GNU / Linux" as the ultimate solution to every single IT problem under the sun.
Linux is a set of tools and APIs, but its future is as a *platform* on which others can build, not as an end in itself. Android is the most obvious illustration of this.
In a similar vein, Ubuntu has achieved about 10 million installs, but I suspect many of their users are only peripherally aware that there's something called "Linux" sitting underneath it, and just refer to it as "Ubuntu".
After all, nobody talks about "BSD" running on Apple kit. People know it as "OS X".
Steve Jobs' questionable behaviour has nothing to do with his design & user-centric philosophy. I have an iphone and enjoy it very much. My objection is to the recent explosion of the use of shills to poison online debate with asinine apologist propaganda. It's grotesquely manipulative, cynical and disrespectful to consumers, and it's rendering online debate on these issues impossible, lest we all be instantly jumped upon for stating the ugly truth.
As the previous poster adequately put it - my problem is indeed Apple. And any other company that employs such despicable, underhanded and destructive tactics.
All makes sense to me. The fact is that flash is a CPU hog and with the limited battery life on laptops and phones it makes no sense to use it if you want an efficient bit of kit. Adobe needs to address this. If I use anything flash based on my shiny new laptop the CPU dial goes from ticking over nicely to off the blimin scale, fan goes into overdrive and everything warms up by several degrees. (extended flash use not a drive by website visit)
I get 3 hours movie watching from my laptop battery yet just over an hour uptime if my kids play any flash games on battery only.
Stevey boy has a point.
They've already got Dreamweaver to build upon, so just concentrate on enhancing its support for emerging "open" web technologies and they'll have a winner. Forget Flash!
I'll admit I'm getting a little tired of the whole Flash issue these days. What I would like is some input on though is any emerging technologies that do in fact address these concerns. I can't take h.264 seriously because it's a closed format. But does anyone have any pointers to some discussion of anything in the works that could in fact replace Flash in the development sphere? Remember this is not just a video related problem but everything Flash does...
I don't often agree with Jobs, but he's spot on about Flash. By the time a product gets as mature as Flash you expect it to run reasonably well, but Flash is probably the single buggiest piece of software on my computer. Granted I'm running the infamous Linux version of Flash, but still you'd expect a company with Adobe's track record to do better.
I still think google should run an ad showing flash enabled sites on both the iphone and the nexus, with the voice-over from apples "the whole internet" ad in the background once adobe finishes the android version. Just hitting Hulu and something like newgrounds should cover it nicely.
I'll laugh harder if they drop the HTML5/H.264 version of youtube. (maybe for HTML5/vp8)
an article in El Reg that fails to use the words "cult" or "fanboi" and seems to include the word "reasonable" to describe a "Jobsian" pronouncement?
Either the very fabric of time and space as we know it is under enormous threat, or someone's looking to move into the place at the Cupertino dinnertable recently vacated by the Gizmodo Gang...
However, they are at the forefront of openness where it matters most - with the internet. Adobe most definitely are not.
Btw, perhaps when you are calling someone an idiot for opening their mouth, you should try reading the source material first? That way you would look less of an idiot yourself.
He acknowledges that Apple are a purveyor of closed software! He also points out that Apple are OSS contributors as well. Look, I have no issue with you or anyone disagreeing, it's your right after all, but have the decency to actually read the letter before passing judgement. It's extremely cogent *reasoning*.
To quote wikipedia, if I dare:
An ad hominem, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument toward the person" or "argument against the person"), is an attempt to persuade which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise. The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.
"...New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind." Steve Jobs.
he is spot on with this one. a real 100% web experience shouldn't involve any plugin or add on.
I was actually going to BUY an iPhone 3G when they came to Australia (officially)... There was a free SDK and dev tools. It didn't matter if the programs I used on WinMob didn't have replacements, because I could knock up my own (they're all fairly basic).
Until of course I went to download the SDK - gotta use a Mac. Free suddenly becomes over a thousand dollars. Oh, and to publish apps, even if you want them to be free to download, you get to pay to join the "club" at $US100
While I don't care too much for Flash (and don't have an iPhone), I'm always amazed at how Jobs thinks that his opinion matters so much more than consumer choice.
I agree that Flash websites are awful and non-Flash alternatives should be available; and it's highly likely that Adobe's Flash -> native iPhone converter won't produce the most efficient version if the same had been coded from scratch, but where's people's choice?
If an app is avialable that doesn't perform well, people won't use it (assuming alternatives exist)... that's what a "free" market is about, the freedom to make choices.
If Apple released it's idiotic grip on apps to the market and didn't require iTunes, I think they'd sell a lot more phones.
unfortunately "open standards" in web browsers means "subtle hacking around weird edge case problems for different browsers". Flash is pretty much write once run anywhere if they've got the plugin and it solves all those problems. I reckon:
low safari use
lots of sites don't test or update for safari quirks so less people use it
force people to write for safari on ipad
boom now the whole app is running on safari
safari can grow market share
he also wants people to write in objective C so they could fairly easily port to native osx. and objective-C is the ugliest language i've seen.
we're going to develop an internal app on adobe air anyway. its got to work on the most number of platforms with the mimum amount of fuss (i.e. not having to work with the foibles of mobile/browsers). sorry iplod users
As Steve's letter notes, WebKit is used on all mobile devices except Microsoft's. It's also used in Google Chrome. And Adobe AIR. You don't have to be anti-Flash to want better website compatibility with WebKit; even Adobe want it. In fact, according to your post, even you want it.
That'll be WebKit (yes, everyone knows it was a fork of KHTML--it's much more than that!). WebKit is used by Adobe (as established), Apple (obviously), Nokia, Palm and Google to name a few of the bigger players.
>"lots of sites don't test or update for safari quirks so less people use it"; In my experience, if standards compliant , semantically marked-up XHTML and CSS is used, Safari and te other Webkit based browsers, Opera and Gecko based browsers do not require much, if any testing! The *real* problem in web development is IE. It has got, and is getting better. WebKit *owns* the mobile browser market...
>"and objective-C is the ugliest language i've seen."; That's a strawman. You might as well say that French or Spanish is the ugliest language you've seen or that an authors book is crap because in your opinion they have bad hand writing!. How *efficient* is it? *That's* what's actually important!
Your approach to users is disappointing, who do you work for so I can avoid your products...
"lots of sites don't test or update for safari quirks so less people use it"
Umm, Safari is pretty much HTML compliant. Unlike some other browsers...
"he also wants people to write in objective C so they could fairly easily port to native osx"
Or C++ or Java...
If Apple hates Adobe that much, may as well purchase them. Best revenge.
But seriously, Apple had no problem with Adobe back before they (Apple) were trying to build a media empire. The chest thumping has nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with control. Apple appears more ridiculous for trying to contrive a rationale for dissing Adobe than for admitting they want to control the "flow". iAd would never work with Flash pumping all of the content onto the i-platforms.
At any rate, Apple could have been so much less overt and achieved the same goal. Dare I say, even Dubya had more tact.
Steve Jobs said, "We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash."
How does he know?
He knows because on Macs, when an app crashes, the Crash Reporter window comes up and lets you send the technical details of the crash to Apple. They've undoubtedly received millions upon millions of these crash reports - that's how they know what code caused the crash for each one.
From my own experience, I've been monitoring the causes of the crashes in the Problem Details section of the crash report - it's almost always some Flash code - which I know from looking at the list of subroutines in the backtrace of the crashing thread (and I'm usually using the browser watching video when crashes occur - Flash video. )
What he is really saying is just two things.
1. HE wants to control the Iphone experience. You have to use the Iphone how he says.
2. If Apple allows flash then people will develop apps for ALL mobile platforms. Making Iphone app developers jump through hoops to make everything just the way he wants it will make it harder for people to port apps to Android or Win7. If that were to happen the Iphone would become just another smart phone and people would buy whichever has the best features or deal.
If its the number one reason for Mac's crashing it means that Mac users must need flash a lot after all if they were visiting sites that did not need flash there would be less crashes? So what he is saying is he is banning iphone/ipad users from visiting sites they visit often on their macs?
If the usual apple-bashing / closed-systems-bashing, of which us geeks are so fond, is left aside for a minute, then Mr Jobs makes some valid points which are hard to criticise.
The point is, flash sucks a lot of the time on desktops for all the reasons he mentions; on a handheld each and every negativism would only get amplified. And the cross-platform development advantage isn't one where touch devices are concerned, as he points out.
Let Adobe be pissed; Apple should never adopt Flash for iPhone/iPad, and it seems they never will. Yeah.
" When the smartphone wars were a mass of competing OSes (Symbian, Windows) and proprietary phone operating systems couldn't really do whizzy graphics, the opportunity was there."
No, I don't think the opportunity was there. Back then, the mobile CPUs and video were simply too underpowered (on most phones) to run Flash properly, or even acceptably. Only recently have most phones begun to come with beefy processors and longer-life batteries, which make Flash even remotely usable. But now the opportunity has gone...
...was, the market leader in almost every graphics category.
With that kind of dominance, it's easy for any company to become as maneuverable as a battleship. Flash is still the de facto standard, but Adobe better catch up in the handheld marketplace.
That said, why can't Steve and Adobe just sit down over a beer and pizza and get along?
Because Steve would want his pizza to consist mostly of unflavoured mycoprotein on a recycled cardboard base. And Adobe would want Marmite smeared on a toilet lid.
Then Steve would wash his down with trendy microbrews served from a glass slipper, and Adobe would want kerosene served in a surgical glove.
but flash does crash Firefox and Camino, so it's not just a problem with Safari conflicting with Flash. Although when most applications do crash, OSX will notify you and then carry on, Flash can completely lock up the system thanks to it's take over of the CPU meaning rebooting the system to regain control.
It's hard to imagine His Steveness (thanks, AO) using such a respectful term to anyone, let alone Adobe. But his point is entirely reasonable; and is, I suspect, painfully obvious to any developer of Flash applications who isn't a shill for Adobe.
Nope, Adobe had its chance, and blew it. The world moves on. And the web will be a much better place without such undue reliance on one company's proprietary product.
It's up to users to decide what they like and what the don't. For the matter I hate Qt, GTK and Java applications under Windows, with their bad UIs and runtimes. But should MS ban them from Windows? No. It's up to programmers to decide how to target a platform and to users which applications deserve to be used and which not. Paternalism is just a way to hinder real innovation and an excuse to maximize revenues upon users' skin.
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>"the number one reasons Macs crash" and consumes power at twice the rate of H.264 video
Flash has been using H.264 for like 3 years or more - I'm not all that sure either of you have a clue what you're talking about. Just in case you missed it - unlike pretty much every other platform, Apple chose to block h/w acceration for OSX FP and shite performance resulted, big surprise there. Sadly no-one actually cared about 5% or whatever OSX users relying on the CPU, so Flash continued to dominate online video forcing Apple to back down and open up the API last week for video - and probably once the penny drops with His Jobiness, generally some time later this year.
On iPhone Flash had full access to h/w and performance was much better than script or canvas - plenty of demos abound - point me at one with source code that show's contrary please.
>Adobe has had plenty of opportunities over the past decade to establish Flash as a GUI of choice for phone OEMs
WTF? Why on Earth would Adobe want this?
"Apple chose to block h/w acceration for OSX FP and shite performance resulted, big surprise there."
Adobe chose to release shite code and Safari crashed.
No company should release code that shoddy into the wild...
It doesn't matter if it's hitting the hardware or not, it should be much better quality ffs
>It doesn't matter if it's hitting the hardware or not
With 'modern' video it rather does matter - though FP does an admirable job with only CPU available all in all. As to Flash which crashes Macs I've no experience of that, anything I write is tested and doesn't - likewise that of any developer that we hire, else they don't get paid.
I'm sure you can point me at loads of duff code that crashes Safari (I'd be interested to see examples actually) but that's not down to Adobe - and even if OSX FP were to blame, rather than the limits placed on it by Apple, there's still no need for a plugin to crash a browser and certainly not the OS.
When Apple migrated from MacOS9 to MacOSX - Adobe never released a native version of FrameMaker - even though Adobe had other UNIX ports available. Apple was doing a lot of their documentation in FrameMaker, before Adobe dumped them.
It is ironic how Adobe (Flash) is now on the outside when Apple released a new platform (iPhone & iPad.)
Sometimes, corporation don't forget when they had been beaten on by a partner.
...and to the point. Surprisingly, I find myself one of those incomplete agreement with Steve. All he had to do was kick back in the hammock, toke up, and spend 15 minutes typing out your thoughts (or 2 hours on an iPad keyboard, whatever...) and tell us the story from the heart. Wasn't so hard, was it?
I've never seen a Windows PC crash because of Flash. That must mean OSX is even flakier than Windows! If that's not true then Jobs is seriously misinformed about why Macs crash.
Some things that Flash does can be done in HTML5 but not everything and there are no HTML5 design tools at the moment and it will take years before any exist that are as powerful and simple to use as the existing Flash tools.
I don't know how Jobs put it in his letter without reading it again, but he clearly meant that Flash is the no. 1 cause of crashes on the Mac, not of the Mac.
For the person earlier in the thread suggesting that Mac users must need Flash if it is the no.1 cause of crashing... hello, what is that hideous animated POS to the right of the screen if it isn't a damnable Flash based ad? I certainly don't need those but, unless you block Flash and/or ads by default, these bloody things are foisted on us regardless of need at virtually every web site you visit.
and if flash does die, those annoying flash ads will be replaced by hideous embedded HTML 5 videos and this time your NoScript plugin won't be able to stop it.
Maybe someone will come up with NoVideo who knows.
Anyways, same shit different smell or same smell different shit which ever you like.
I guess you haven't been around very long, then. I've seen quite a few BSODs and browser crashes in my time that I would link to Flash.
Admittedly I haven't seen a significant problem in the last couple of years, but I suspect that is more to do with much beefier hardware than anything specific on Adobe's side.
I know, for example, that if I visit a Flash-heavy site I can expect to see the memory footprint of my browser grow and to continue growing even after I leave the site, forcing me to re-start the browser.
To me that suggest not only lazy memory management, but also components that neither unload correctly or stop running when not in use. That's bad from an OS stability perspective and a security perspective.
OK, it's possible that this is an issue in the browser itself or the OS, but I can't pin it down to anything else that's going on, I don't appear to have this problem with Java or .Net stuff for example.
Adobe have had the playing field to themselves for a lot of years and all they can come up with is "it's everyone else's fault". Lack of hardware acceleration making video performance rubbish? Have they seen VLC?
Not operating system crashes. He is alleging that most experiences of anything crashing while using a Mac are of Safari, Firefox, Opera or whatever being force terminated by the OS due to a bug in the Flash plug-in.
That matches my personal experience. In six years I've known the OS crash maybe three times, which is about even with the modern Windows experience for 99% of users, I think.
"open standards" in web browsers means "subtle hacking around weird edge case problems for different browsers"
Hey -- it's better than the alternative: proprietary browser plugins. When your Flash plugin has security bugs (as it does) or crap performance (as it does), all you can do is to hope that Adobe someday releases an update for your specific platform that fixes the problems. When you have problems with HTML5, you can fix the problem yourself (if you're using an open source implementation) or switch to a competing product that doesn't have the problem.
The situation with Flash is an awful lot like those websites that only work with a specific version of Internet Explorer.
"When you have problems with HTML5, you can fix the problem yourself" really?!
If IE, Safari, Chrome, FF and Opera can't agree on implementing HTML5 you can fix that yourself! Man, you've got some power. Let's face it you are either a bitch of Flash or a bitch of the browsers.
"those websites that only work with a specific version of Internet Explorer."
Or the sites that only work with Safari... Or work better on Chrome. Or in Chrome and Safari but not in FF...
The key is not one vs the other. It's delivering consistent experiences or content. For this you may need to use more than one platform.
Microsoft has also firmly joined the HTML5 camp. I suspect that Microsoft and Apple are going to put a LOT of effort into pushing a consistent HTML5 experience.
Even Adobe's BFF admits that "Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance." http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2010/04/29/html5-video.aspx
Advocating the use of Flash by claiming that "the key is ... delivering consistent experiences or content" is more than a little disingenuous, as Windows is the ONLY platform on which Flash performs acceptably.
Isn't it cute how that fruit-company link requests users to install the "open standard" Quicktime to play all content. We all know that quicktime must be an open standard, because according to the holy steve, internet files should be open formats...
There's a word starting with h (and not ending in oly) describing what his highness is.
...but he's wrong on one point:
"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?"
It doesn't perform that well, admittedly, but my N900 had flash preinstalled. Perhaps Mr. Jobs missed that one.
My N900 and my Athena before it all ran Flash. This is one point Apple keep repeating, making it absolutely clear that they're either trying to deliberately misinform people as to the state of play in the mobile market, or they're spectacularly uninformed themselves.
Jobs says most web video is H.264, making it viewable on iDevices. Then he says claims Flash can't use hardware video decoding because most Flash videos are not H.264 and content providers must re-encode their videos using H.264 (to be viewable on iDevices).
1. "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.
2. "Although Flash has recently [i.e. 2007] 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.
3. "When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all.
seriously what type of effed up OS is this if the flash player is crashing all the apps? why is it being loaded in all the apps?
meh. adobe should kill mac support. that would kill off the mac pro. then steve can concentrate on overpriced toys.
not like apple going anywhere with their "pro" apps...
Mr. Jobs is probably the last person to champion open standards, but let us not get ad hominem.
Having the option usually beats not having the option.
You can always turn the flash plug-in off. It's a one click affair on my Opera (desktop browser), it's a three tap option on my HTC Desire.
Flash would enable easy cross-platform app development, be it a silly game in a browser, or a stand-alone app using a wrapper (as Adobe was developing for CS5 before getting c**kblocked).
Free flash games running in a browser would cut into the App Store margins, being free (in money and from Apple GateKeepers). There are many delightful and light and free timekillers out there, without having to purchase one off the App Store.
iphone app dev being as lucrative as it is, it would enable coders to "write once, run manywhere", i.e. Android, some future WinMob device as well as the iphone. So, much stuff would not be exclusive to the App Store. Which is something Apple would not want.
Moreover Flash is, for better and worse, here and now. While I regard a push for open standards a Good Thing, the prevalence of HTML5 is quite a time down the line. And when it happens, there is nothing preventing the use of HTML5 banners instead of Flash ones.
Apple is in a very strong position, smartphone mindshare and marketshare-wise. But competitors are quickly catching up. I think this is only an attempt at stemming the tide, as it were.
Flash can't swim, it attracts enemy radar, it attracts sharks, it nudges people when they're trying to browse. Imagine... the fear... when you go to sleep with flash installed on your iPad and think "Oh God, when I wake up, will everyone be dead?" You can't run an operating system like that.
> If Apple didn't produce decent developer tools, or charged a fortune for developer access to iPhone OS, Adobe would have a stronger case.
Where can I download these decent developer tools, all I can find is XCode and interface builder, neither of which are particularly good. XCode has the functionality of something you'd have encountered about 10 years ago. Maybe this is Apple's problem and just can't see why anyone would want to use modern development tools.
Glad my wife doesn't forbid me using power tools, otherwise I'd never get all the DIY chores she has lined up for me over the bank holiday in time to get out for a pint.
and this is the real crux of the matter, most of you wouldn't want to produce software for the platform anyway, because of you own ideologies! I cannot, for the life of me, recall when it was announced that all new platforms were required to support existing technologies and frameworks! Where is it enshrined in statute that the originator of a new product has to be backward compatible or use older existing technology? What's more amusing is that you all suggest this omission of existing technologies is stifling innovation! Just say that out loud--"not using old existing technology stops innovation." It's simply not cogent!
OS Company wins.
My analysis from this move by Apple is:
Adobe is a threat to Apple's business because:
1. Adobe's Flash product is seen as a threat to Apple's own developer tools, from which it draws revenue at present.
2. Apple's reputation is based on high quality experience for the users of its products. Part of the user experience is high quality user interfaces. Apple decides that it wants more control over the user interface available on its own platforms.
3. As Apple's product line is expanding, with the iPad being the latest, so too is the number of users of its products.
Since Apple's reputation and selling point is based on high standard of user experience, in the interest of its business, Apple decides to stop supporting Adobe's Flash as a user interface.
The immediate implications of Apple's move are website usability concerns - a huge number of people using Apple's products to surf the the web will not be able to surf existing Flash websites. Apple has not responded as to how it will placate these customers.
The best Adobe can do now is to take advantage of this move and devote more resources toward producing better quality tools for other platforms than Apple ie Microsoft, UNIX/Linux on the PC and the mobile platforms.
Adobe's Flash developer tools business is at risk with this decision. In the event that the market share lost as a result of not being on the Apple platform, would result in a great loss of revenue for Adobe, then Adobe could take a long-term decision now, and consider open-sourcing the Flash platform (only the Flash platform, not the developer tools), so that in time, the open-source community might develop it into something that will gain acceptance on Apples platform. As the platform is developing for the Mac, Adobe could then join the bandwagon and create or position its developer tools for the new open-source Flash, thereby regaining Apple platform market share.
What immediately develops from this decision remains to be seen. Adobe might file an anti-competitive lawsuit, but Apple is a bigger company and has more resources to fight long and hard.
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