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back to article Steve Jobs issues open letter on Flash

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 to …

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WTF?

Gasp!

The Reg agreeing with Steve Jobs? That's new.

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Pint

Nothing to be alarmed about...

The other three horsemen of the Apocalypse should be along shortly. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Andrew Orlowski

Why do so many pro-Apple articles seem to originate with Mr Orlowski? Every time my eyebrow raises at a rather shillish defence of the latest Apple dickmove, I scroll up to see his name. Or maybe I just need a change of medication....?

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Coat

shillish

I read Steve Jobs article and it all made sense. Harsh but true. Don't see what your problem is....oh, sorry,your problem's apple isn't it.

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Stop

Because the old religion is dying.

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".

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, no.

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.

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Thumb Up

yup yup and yup

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.

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Go

Adobe's opportunity

Instead of trying to shoe-horn "full" Flash into devices that wouldn't benefit from it, Adobe are probably the best positioned company in the world to dominate the market for a decent, rock-solid, easy-to-use and fast HTML5, CSS & Javascript authoring tool.

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!

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Alternatives

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...

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Silver badge

He's right

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.

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Silver badge

silly steve...

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)

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Joke

Not so sure you want that...

Nexus: shows website bogged down with flash ads, pop-overs, pop-unders, etc

iPhone: shows the same site w/o ads, LSO's, "take this survey now!" pop-overs, those irritating-as-frig double-line fake-links, etc.

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Me too!

I'd love to see this ad too. Nexus doesn't do Flash either.

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Let me google that for you...

You apperently missed the annoucement that adobe is working to release a version for android.

here let me google that for you:

http://www.google.com/search?q=android+flash

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WTF?

It must be cold in Hell today

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...

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WTF?

Hang on

Is he criticizing Adobe for not being "open" with flash?

This from a company with some of the most closeted, closed, proprietary, over controlled products ever seen?

He has got to be joking right?

He comes across as a bigger idiot each time he opens his mouth.

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Anonymous Coward

He openly [sic] admits that Apple aren't fully open...

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.

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Thumb Down

Did you actually read the letter?

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*.

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Silver badge

Ad hominem

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.[1] The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.[2]

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Apple Don't Claim to Be Open

The difference is that Apple aren't claiming to be open. Jobs admits they have plenty of proprietary technology. Adobe are claiming to be open when they aren't in ANY way.

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Stop

Bah

If a website isn't visitable in lynx, it's not worth visiting.

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Jobs Halo

he'll have the last word

"...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.

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Unhappy

charge a fortune for access...

Apple do charge a fortune for access to developing for the iPhone: you have to use a Mac. Not much use to those who don't have one and an expensive barrier to entry.

OTH, Flash is awful irrespective.

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Grenade

Yep!

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

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Coat

His Steveness

"His Steveness feels it's worth a 1,700 word detour."

Better than "nope", I suppose.

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WTF?

Force Grip

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.

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Jobs Horns

H.264 and Flash

Flash plays H.264. Just create your M4Vs, load them into your Flash movie just like any other supported video and play them. You can do a lot more with your videos than Safari can by playing them on its own.

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FAIL

just a plan to get people to support safari

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

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Silver badge

For Safari, read WebKit

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.

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Stop

And what does Air use to render HTML?

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...

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FAIL

Well...

It's your funeral, Dingus.

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FAIL

RE: just a plan to get people to support safari

"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...

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Jobs Halo

He has a point

It's brave decisions like this that make Apple what it is today and it's why Apple needs Jobs. Even though I doubt I will ever own a mac I can respect that.

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Jobs Halo

Totally agree

Very eloquent and absolutely correct on every point. Flash is an bloated, unwieldy monster which has had its day. I'm looking forward to seeing the last of it on the Web, and I certainly don't want any crappy Flash runtime rubbish on my iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Fair enough.

I refuse to have iTunes or Quicktime rubbish on my pc.

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Big Brother

You're either with the HTML5'ers or against 'em

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.

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Jobs Horns

Same old same old.

Hey, Jobs

See all those devices that already run flash?

They do it and it's not buggy, or problematic in any way.

Expalin.

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which devices?

So which devices are those then?

Name one smartphone that runs Flash right now, not the cut down Flash Lite

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How Steve Jobs knows Flash is the number one cause of crashes on Macs

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. )

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Anonymous Coward

Seeya Flash, you won't be missed

I always make sure to send the crash report to Apple when Flash kills Safari (which happens several times per day). It's a good feeling.

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Jobs Horns

What he is really saying

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.

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Jobs Horns

Pot, meet kettle....

"they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe."

Um, aren't Apple products controlled entirely by Apple?

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Joke

Point set match

Was gonna say the same thing but either way I have another question here....

Who really believes that that was written by St. Jobs himself? Dictated sure but not written by a secretary?

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Anonymous Coward

Surely...

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?

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Stop

RE: Surely...

Err. No.

Just because x% of Safari crashes are Flash related, doesn't mean that lots of Safari users are actually using Flash through choice... it loads automagically when you visit the page with it embedded - and that can be enough to crash the browser!

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Troll

What was that?

"It is not Apple’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps"

There, I fixed it.

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Jobs Halo

enough said

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.

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Bronze badge

Flash as GUI standard???

" 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...

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Jobs Horns

If...?

What do you mean IF they charged developers a fortune to access iPhone SDK?

£700+ for a style-over-substance iCack not to mention the $99 Developer Program...?

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price of flash?

After all, Adobe doesn't give CS4 pro away for free either. The full version is not much cheaper than Apples SDK.

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