Steve Jobs shares his 'thoughts on Flash'

By on April 29, 2010, 3:29 PM
Since the iPhone came out, there has been an ongoing debate about Apple's refusal to allow Flash content to run on its platform. But things escalated to a whole new level recently when the Cupertino-based company decided to ban developers from using cross-platform compilers, like the one Adobe just so happened to have announced as a key feature in Creative Suite 5, and instead required apps to be written natively for the iPhone OS.

Adobe and developers were quick to lash out at Apple, calling out their seemingly arbitrary App Store approval process, and even accusing them of wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe. Today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself has gone on the offensive with a lengthy open letter in which he talked about the companies' intertwined histories, and detailed exactly why he believes Flash is actually detrimental for innovation on mobile devices.

The executive noted how the two have worked closely for years to pioneer the publishing business and continue to share some interests in the desktop front -- Mac users buy around half of Adobe's Creative Suite products. However, he then goes on to list a number of reasons why Flash on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is not a good idea: openness, the “full web”, reliability, security and performance, battery life, touch interfaces, and software quality.

Jobs makes some interesting points along the way. Though he acknowledges Apple's own platforms are closed, he also claims that products are different than the web and that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. He concludes by sympathizing with Adobe's aims of extending beyond the desktop, but asserts that they "should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."

User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

LOL! I think Jobs is living in a fantasy world.

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Adobe's CEO responds: [link]

JudaZ said:

Steve Jobs is a total control freak. Why anyone would want to buy a locked down product from apple is beyond me.

Guest said:

Im not a mac fan purley from a price vs performance perspective but I think jobbie needs to realise that people buy hardware (ie the mac) to run software.

They certainly don't buy the hardware first and then think well, what software can I buy to run on this. If I could figure out how to run Creative suite and Flash on a ball point pen apple would certainly be in trouble.

Stopping developers creating software and applications is a great way to bring down your own product.

Apple should be PRIVILEGED that developers want to create software for their hardware, and allow user choice (case in point Nintendo 64, small example I know, but the main reason that platform suffered was because Nintendo were overy strict on who could and could not write for their hardware and the huge lists of constraints put on a release)

mavis311 said:

I agree with the comments prior to this one and I wanted to add: about Jobs' open web comment -- If Apple had developed HTTP or TELNET or any other web standard, Apple would have a completely different stance on that issue (imagine what ISPs would have to charge just for web access). I can't understand what corporations think they will gain by trying to prevent their customers/users from being able to do what they would like with the device they paid so much for, especially in the case of Apple. BTW, the first computer my family ever had was a Mac LC, and unless something changes radically at Apple, it will be my last Apple, ever.

natefalk natefalk said:

Jobs is just trying to justify his/Apple's position so more people will get an iPad before the competitors are released.

His whole argument about hardware decoding would have been valid until Adobe released a hardware-accelerated flash update (see Flash 10.1 "Gala" . Even more amusing is Adobe's response. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen says it all: "Jobs' open letter was merely a "smokescreen"; Apple's restrictions are stifling development and have "nothing to do with technology"."

I think it is all about Apple not wanting cross-platform software to run on its machines.

windmill007 said:

This is why I hate Apple! Can people not see his company is like communism. By having no freedoms and making everything go through his company. I hope all these other devices come out with flash and drive Apple to the ground

alcarin2030 alcarin2030 said:

So everyone here thinks that companies should be restricted to the capabilities of flash and other software companies? "Oh no, we cant do that, Adobe hasn't released their update for Flash yet" If there is a much more flexible platform out there, HTML5, why not use it? Innovation being restricted by software is bad for any company, Apple realizes this and has taken pretty good steps. Though I hate the fact that their products are locked down, I have to give them props for this.

Guest said:

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Jobs is just trying to justify his/Apple's position so more people will get an iPad before the competitors are released.


I think it is all about Apple not wanting cross-platform software to run on its machines.

Two of their competitors are out for the foreseeable future. Microsoft dropped Courier, and HP is totally redoing their Slate.

Apple lets cross platform software run on their computers, they don't let flash run on their iPhone, iPod, and iPad.

Edit: Microsoft weighs in

"reliability, security, and performance" are not as good as Microsoft would like them.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

I think there could be a compromise here, as both companies are right.

Apple: wants to move on with HTML5 and not stay in the past

Adobe: wants everyone to be able to develop applications regardless of OS

I say, why not have Apple allow flash on their products, if Adobe agrees to do more research into HTML5? I mean, if Google can multitask (email, voice, Chrome, Chrome OS, Buzz, Wave, broadband, docs, bla bla bla) then surely Adobe can do more work into HTML5 while continuing to support what we have now.

Both companies win, here. Adobe gets on Apple products, Apple gets paired with a company doing research into HTML5.

How did I come up with this great idea? Oh...I don't know...maybe it's because I used a little common sense?

Flannelwarrior said:

The past? I have an Android phone, which does not support flash, and I am CONSTANTLY irritated by having to come up with clever workarounds when I can't view flash based content. Maybe Jobs is right, and HTML5 is the way of the future - but Flash is the way of the present, not just the past.

tengeta tengeta said:

Its a hard call, but I'm with Apple on this one (and that isn't common). Flash has had tons of issues and holes that Adobe simply refuses to deal with, and someone needs to show them that they can't just force their way onto everyone's devices because its "the thing". I don't get why people think Apple is the only side forcing here, Adobe is just as if not more corrupt and forceful of their standards.

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