I guess Apple CEO Steve Jobs got tired of the criticism he and his company are taking in relation to Adobe Flash and, today, Apple put his ‘Thoughts on Flash’ on the Apple web site. In his diatribe, Jobs gives six reasons, no, lets call them ‘tent poles’, for why Apple does not allow Flash on any of Apple’s mobile devices (except, of course, the notebooks.) I’ve read them and while he writes very convincingly, his reasons are still only justifications as to why the technology is not allowed.
He also points out that the Adobe claim that 75% of the web’s video is in Flash is wrong and that the video is also available as H.264 and that the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad have YouTube applications to play the 40% of web video that YouTube serves up. Well, yes, however, having a player application open up video that is meant to be viewed as part of a web page (when the video is embedded on a page other than YouTube) kind of kills the ‘whole internet’ argument that Apple puts out.
Other points, or counterpoints, include reliability, stability and performance; user interface (Flash does not play nice with Touch); battery life and, of course, the whole middle layer thing. I can’t argue the battery life thing since I don’t really know much about it. On Windows machines, Flash is pretty stable and performs well. I’m told by some of my Mac toting friends that Flash is a less than stellar performer on Mac OS X. Given that Apple has only recently opened up the graphics/GPU API, I’m not surprised that Flash is a poor performer, video wise. I suspect that Flash built applications probably run just fine. I also have to doubt Apple’s claim that the majority of Mac crashes are the result of Flash. It’s probably very minor, but, again, I don’t know for sure.
The bottom line is that the iPhone OS is Apple’s and they can do what hey want. Maintaining close control over the platform helps ensure a more stable product. That the CEO of Apple felt compelled to defend it’s position is very telling and, I might add, pretty un-Apple like. For a company that generally does not care what its customers or developers think and, especially, what its critics think, to go and publish something like this is simply remarkable.
I’m sure this letter will embolden the fan kiddies to hate on Adobe even more. This will fuel their new found anti-Flash/anti-Adobe sentiment. You watch, every argument henceforth will include two or three or more quotes from Jobs’ letter. If nothing else, it will be entertaining.
For your own reading pleasure, and to form your own opinion about this, the link to the ‘Thoughts on Flash’ is posted below.