Thursday, April 29, 2010

Steve Jobs Publishes Thoughts on FLASH

Steve Jobs just posted an open letter of sorts explaining Apple's position on Flash, going back to his company's long history with Adobe and expounding upon six main points of why he thinks Flash is wrong for mobile
devices. HTML5 naturally comes up, along with a few reasons you might not expect. Here's the breakdown:

It's not open.
"While Adobe's Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system." Man, that's some strong irony you're brewing, Steve. Still, we get the point --
HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript are open web standards.

The "full web."
Steve hits back at Adobe's claim of Apple devices missing out on "the full web," with an age-old argument (YouTube) aided by the numerous new sources that have started providing video to the iPhone and iPad in HTML5 or app
form like CBS, Netflix, and Facebook. Oh, and as for flash games? "50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are
free." If we were keeping score we'd still call this a point for Adobe.

Reliability, security and performance.
Steve hits on the usual "Flash is the number one reason Macs crash," but adds another great point on top of this: "We have routinely asked Adobe
to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it." You've got us there, Steve, but surely your magical A4 chip could solve all this? Battery life. "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." Steve Jobs is of course H.264's #1 fan, and it's hard to blame him, since he cites 10 hours of H.264 playback but only 5 hours with software decode on the iPhone. Still, those "older generation" sites that haven't moved to H.264 yet are pretty much the exact same sites that aren't viewable with HTML5, which means we're being restricted in the content we can access just because some of it doesn't perform as well.
Touch. Steve hits hard against one of the web's greatest hidden evils: rollovers. Basically, Flash UIs are built around the idea of mouse input, and would need to be "rewritten" to work well on touch devices. "If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern
technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?" That doesn't really address the Flash-as-app scenario (that's point #6), but it's also a pretty silly sounding solution to a developer: your website doesn't support this one UI paradigm exactly right, so why not rewrite it entirely? The most important reason.

Steve finally addresses the third party development tools situation, but it's really along the lines of what we were hearing already: "If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools,
they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features." We doubt this will end all debate, but it's clear Apple has a line in the sand.
He concludes in saying that "Flash was created during the PC era – for
PCs and mice." Basically, it's for the olds. And you don't want to be old,
do you? Follow after the break for the whole thing in brilliant prose

Courtesy: Engadget

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