back to article Adobe Flash: 20m phones flip Steve Jobs the bird

Is Steve Jobs the best thing that ever happened to Adobe Flash? Nine months after Jobs unloaded his infamous open letter on Flash, defending Apple's decision to completely ban the technology from the iPhone and the iPad, Adobe has announced that in 2010, more than 20 million smartphones shipped with or were upgraded to Flash …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge
Unhappy

I have an Android but Jobs was right

Flash was (is?) a CPU hog and indeed is a proprietary application; it is interesting to note that Google has taken a diametrically opposite position in the H.264/ WebM argument.

I didn't buy an iPhone because I wanted to be able to install anything I liked without Apples complete control (I've used my phone to fix websites, and tethered to my computer, both of which you couldn't/can't do without jailbreaking the iPhone), but Jobs is right that Flash should go the way of the dinosaurs if possible

14
7
Silver badge

It would be more correct to say

That the app your Flash plugin is running is a CPU hog. Do you really think the equivalent app written in HTML would be any different?

In all likelihood it would run even worse by virtue of the fact that it would be competing with the rest of the page content within the same thread for CPU whereas a Flash app could be running on a separate thread.

Anyway, there are two simple options in Chrome to reduce CPU consumption in Android if you so wish:

1. Dont use Flash at all. i.e. you just get blank where the flash was meant to be

2. Selectively enable flash, i.e. you get a little icon where the flash app is and you must tap it to start it.

The latter option is an extremely obvious solution that Apple could have chosen to do.

11
7

Apple ... Choice?

"2. Selectively enable flash, i.e. you get a little icon where the flash app is and you must tap it to start it."

- Jobs: If I want you to make a choice *I* will tell you what to choose ...

"The latter option is an extremely obvious solution that Apple could have chosen to do"

- Could have ... but won't now due to Jobs ego ... while clearly brilliant, he will ultimately overstep the mark and kill the company through his own ego ...

8
6
Bronze badge

Response

Flash was simply not designed with the requirement to operate with minimal power consumption. I would assume that an equivalent app designed for mobile phone use (including the browser) would take steps to keep the power drain down.

2
4
Boffin

Thread Management

"In all likelihood it would run even worse by virtue of the fact that it would be competing with the rest of the page content within the same thread for CPU whereas a Flash app could be running on a separate thread."

Thread management introduces its own additional overhead. Having something in a seperate thread just prevents objects on the page from holding up the "flash app" (kinda like the good'ol days of your cursor freezing when windows dekstop locked up....)

Either way, you're likely to get just as poor performance with two threads (browser and flash) as you would with one thread. Unless, that is, you're sporting a Tegra-based dual-core chip like the LG Optimus 2X. I wonder how long it will take for the iPhone to pick up on dual core... Well, without non-Apple-Apps multitasking, it would be more of a moot point anyway....

0
0
Thumb Up

Sometimes making decisions is a good thing

If Flash is so good then why are so many Android users crying out for an Android version of the iPlayer app which uses H.264 (like the iOS apps) and not Flash?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/02/bbc_iplayer_apps_coming_soon_t.html

“only newer, more powerful Android 2.2 devices connected via Wi-Fi can support the Flash 10.1 streaming experience […] If you have an older version of the Android platform, you may be able to upgrade, so please check with your device manufacturer and/or mobile network provider for information about Android system updates.”

So let's pretend I've got an X10, let me check with my device manufacturer and/or mobile network provider:

http://twitter.com/SonyEricssonUK/status/23028920475455488

Oh.

So Apple's bloody mindedness means all their users get a good experience wheres Android users get shafted again.

2
4
Jobs Halo

Choice or requirement?

Are users really choosing to install Flash or is it simply that they are being forced into using it?

I don't have Flash installed on my desktop because I want it, quite the opposite but I'm forced to use it as several websites that I want to use continue to use it, simple as that.

Oh and Steve is right. Nothing I run on my desktop hogs the CPU quite the way Flash does. I've also had to reinstall it umpteen times and the uninstall process itself is pretty flippin horrible.

8
8
Linux

whatever

"Are users really choosing to install Flash or is it simply that they are being forced into using it?"

You're thinking of iTunes.

16
7
Silver badge

Adblock

"Oh and Steve is right. Nothing I run on my desktop hogs the CPU quite the way Flash does. "

More correctly there is nothing on your desktop that hogs CPU quite like having multiple browser tabs open each running multiple flash movies and expecting miracles from your plugin in rendering all this without affecting performance.

Install an ad blocker or any number of extensions that allow you to selectively pick which content you wish to render without being impacted by the rest.

12
1
Big Brother

By that "logic":

Hear, hear! In addition, I don't have a web browser because I want it, but those pesky web sites I want to use keep forcing me to render html.

8
3
Silver badge

That comment simply pretends the problem didn't exist

Flash was a huge resource hog. Though it has improved. Apple were particularly annoyed by the Flash implementation on the Mac. It would frequently crash and almost always the simple presence of a Flash animation - just one - would result in all-the-fans-a-whirin'

It's improved a lot recently. If you don't use a Mac, then you probably didn't suffer the problem because Adobe optimised the PC implementation far better. So yes you could say "use a PC" but this is one of those occasions where there was more than just strategic positioning informing the rhetoric (though I'm under no illusion that was also a strong factor). Adobe's Flash implementation on Apple devices really was truly dreadful and I'm sure many less technical customers would simply blame the platform not the cause, so I can understand why Steve Jobs would be angry about it.

5
2
Anonymous Coward

itunes

Well, I'm annoyed by Apple's implementation of iTunes on the PC. I got over it and switched to a different mp3 player. Nothing is stopping Apple users from doing the same thing. Maybe it's Apple's fault that Flash doesn't run well on their platform.

5
4
Anonymous Coward

whatever.

Sounds like you are doing something wrong. I have a 2.5 year old AMD dual core processor, 2 gig of RAM on Windows XP, and can load 15+ tabs (with most of those having flash content) in firefox without a stutter. I haven't reinstalled anything since I upgraded the processor/motherboard 2.5 years ago. I think you are making this up.

3
1
Silver badge

@SuccessCase

The reasons for performance problem on OS X were largely the environment it had to work with. Put simply:

a) Flash didn't have access to hardware accelerated video decoding for a long time so it had to do it in software

b) All Flash content on OS X is rendered windowless so rendering performance relies heavily on the host browser

c) Various drawing APIs have existed / been deprecated at one time or another in OS X and none until Core Animation were particularly suitable for the job

d) Cocoa / Carbon threw another spanner in the works. Some browsers being one, some browsers being the other. The Flash plugin being Carbon at one time but Cocoa now.

e) Some browsers don't provide sufficient info for Flash to know when a tab is visible or hidden so there is no way to dial back refresh rates for hidden movies.

Most of them have been addressed to some extent which is why Flash performance is a lot better these days.

Note that Flash on Windows has never performed as badly because DirectVideo / DirectDraw + windowed mode meant Flash found it a lot easier to do what it wanted.

2
1
Bronze badge

Re

"Apple were particularly annoyed by the Flash implementation on the Mac. It would frequently crash and almost always the simple presence of a Flash animation - just one - would result in all-the-fans-a-whirin'

It's improved a lot recently. If you don't use a Mac, then you probably didn't suffer the problem because Adobe optimised the PC implementation far better."

Wrong. Flash worked better on the PC because the PC vendors optimized it. The mighty Stevey J refused to allow Flash to access hardware acceleration on the Mac, causing it to run poorly. That's the problem when you're a child who can't share, you end up playing ball by yourself like Mr. Jobs.

2
1
Bronze badge
Joke

@DrXym

So what you're saying is Apple is a poorly designed, poorly managed clusterf*ck. Who could have guessed?

3
1
Silver badge
Linux

It's the page, not the plugin.

Whether or not Flash sucks is also a function of the web master.

There are acceleration features in Flash but many sites don't use them. Some sites are sluggish still even running the latest version of Flash on Windows 7. Some sites are indeed CPU hogs. It's all about how they use Flash.

Adobe did need a good kick in the pants. If nothing else Cardinal Steve provided that much.

0
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Well..

This is what happens when you rely on magic instead of technology.. The poor little Unicorns are just not up to the job.

0
0
WTF?

Still not working?

So Adobe is working on it? They bring out CS versions at 1 year interval but can't make a lightweight, quick, hardware accelerated version of a flash player?

They where probably too busy working on the security flaws in Reader!

5
0
Gold badge

Portability

It's not how things work these days. Companies expect the OS to do all the hardware acceleration and let them write portable C++ code. Then all they need to do is write some sort of glue code for their application that lets it work in a particular OS.

Since when have games been optimised for a particular 3D chip? erm, not since DirectX appeared I expect.

0
0

DirectX doesn't fix everything

"Since when have games been optimised for a particular 3D chip? erm, not since DirectX appeared I expect."

Sorry, but you'd be wrong then.

I know friends who work on games, and they are constantly having to mess with code to make it work on certain graphcis hardware. Just don't mention physics cos' then it gets even worse.

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Sorry and all

Despite what the self-promoting saviour of tech Mr Jobs thinks, needs must when the devil drives. Yes Flash can be an abomination, but we want it, same as we want other things that may not be good for us, like coffee, cream donuts and alcohol!

Sorry Jobs, but sometimes the best option is not always the one people go for. Flash is nasty, but it's a quick and dirty way to get "shiny" webpages into peoples hands, so we want it!

2
5
Gold badge

Flash is desktop orientated

It's not so much that, it is that Flash is designed for point and click desktops not multitouch devices.

If lack of flash means less people create awful unusable Flash websites with custom interfaces then I'm grateful.

Google manage to create all manner of web applications without Flash, the only time they use Flash is for Street View.

6
1

And YouTube

Don't forget YouTube, which they keep saying can't be fully converted to HTML5 due to the limitations on control of streaming video.

0
0

No thanks

"If lack of flash means less people create awful unusable Flash websites with custom interfaces then I'm grateful."

YES. *THIS*

Sometimes you need flash to do certain things. Mostly however - you just don't.

2
1

So what?

No-one actually likes Flash - they put up with it as a necessary evil, just so they can watch the odd video clip. They install complicated programs to try to suppress it wherever they can, to avoid the intrusiveness of Flash ads. They curse it as their browsers beachball or crash - Chrome is even designed to limit the damage Flash can do by restricting its influence just to the page it's on.

How sadly typical, then, that El Reg appears to be championing Flash - where in any other circumstances they would be howling for it to be destroyed - merely because Steve Jobs, El Reg's bête noir, has banned it from iOS.

If a common, agreed web video format were magically agreed on today, would anyone (apart from advertisers) give a toss about Flash tomorrow?

16
6
Silver badge

They're not really championing Flash

El Reg is doing one of the things it always does; irreverently poking fun at the gap between reality and the way various companies might wish things were. In this case, Jobs has stood up and said that Flash isn't suitable for mobile. It nevertheless seems to have obtained a foothold. So there's a story there, which for comment leavers seems primarily to be about Apple and control but in the story seems to be more about Adobe putting in some real work and a market full of players that take some positions just to differentiate themselves from Apple.

6
1

*sighs*

----

If a common, agreed web video format were magically agreed on today, would anyone (apart from advertisers) give a toss about Flash tomorrow?

----

Do a search on "Flash Games" and I think you'll see that yes, many people would miss Flash - it isn't just about video you know. Contrary to popular belief, the web isn't just used for lolcats and pr0n.

2
0

Heresy

"the web isn't just used for lolcats and pr0n."

You lie.

4
1
FAIL

@CD001

'Do a search on "Flash Games" and I think you'll see that yes, many people would miss Flash - it isn't just about video you know."

I think most games that run in Flash have been converted to native iOS apps by now.

0
3
Thumb Down

Native iOS conversions...

Oh well, that's OK then, I'll uninstall Flash as soon as I get home. Now, remind me, from whereabouts would I download the iOS app loader for Windows 7? Can't seem to find it on the Apple site...

4
3

playability = worthless

1) Most of those flash games are not even compatible with 10.1 on Android: too many images to pre-load and not enough RAM. At best, it;s a limited functional experience, and at worst, it not only auto-kills all your background apps as it fill up RAM, and closes other tabs in your browser you might have wanted to keep open, but it crashes the phone itself on many sites, and causes you to reboot.

2) many of these flash games are meant to be played by leaving them running in a browser for long periods, or by continually interacting with the app, which is not only difficult to do on a phone screen, but it kills your battery fast, and back-grounding has questionable results as the site's flash content doesn't know how to use your phone's notification engine, nor respect the boundaries placed on background tasks.

3) Games designed for a mouse and keyboard suck on touchscreens, especialyl ones that rely on clicking on large numbers of small objects, especially when click and drag is not a designed in feature (farmville is AWFUL to play without a real mouse for example, yet the native app supports dragging functions the browser version does not, and actually increases playability).

4) many a good flash game have been readily ported to (and run better as) native phone apps.

5) running flash 24x7 even when you're not using a flash site is just dumb. It needs to be at the least a hot-load plug-in, or should show the flash content in a separate (and sandboxed) frame. This is particularly an issue when you leave tabs open with web adds that continually try to cycle content, and can kill your battery in hours...

Flash is not a blessing, it;s a plague upon the web. 95% of the content it actually supports on a phone is ads and poorly designed web interfaces most of us block or get past by electing a non-flash optional version of the site. encrypted flash video still can't be played, most flash apps don;t actually work or worse crash the device, short of some web video equally displayable in H.264 or WebM, what does flash actually bring to a mobile device that we actually want? nothing. It is NOT full flash, it is but a subset, and the majority of it we don;t want and/or can otherwise get, so WHY BOTHER!

2
2
Thumb Up

Wahey!

"In reviving Flash, Google has undermined its own march towards open video."

Doesn't that really say more about a dead end and obsolete technology being a massive success just to spite apple?

Flash has always crashed a lot on the desktop but i'd still choose it anyday than get locked in an obsolete, dead end company like apple.

The only way they're going is down.

They lost the desktop war, they lost the browser war, they're losing the smartphone war.

History repeats itself again.

7
7
FAIL

And you're losing the plot...

It is numpties like you that view this as a war! Grow up son, your a dullard.

7
2
FAIL

RE: AC

And it's numpties like you who troll

2
4
Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Yeah - that's it. Use the troll name instead of an actual argument.

2
2
Thumb Down

Except they didn't

"They lost the desktop war"

Please stop with the tired argument that Apple lost the desktop war. Yes, IBM came in and ripped off the Apple II (slotted, expandable computer with a keyboard and monitor attached) and won the war. At no time did the Mac hold any significant share.

"they lost the browser war"

The battle for the web browser has been won with WebKit, which owes a significant chunk of its existence to Apple and the work it gave back to the community while developing Safari.

"they're losing the smartphone war."

The battle for the smartphone is far from over. I would like you to illustrate having 4% of global handset sales and 51% of the profit is "losing" from any way you look at it.

Either way this has nothing to do with Flash. Just sounds like a "Apple iz Evil" rant to me, with extra added cynicism from the guy who's probably happy to use Android, despite the fact that before the iPhone it was going to be Rimm-off.

3
4
Silver badge
Boffin

IBM ripped off the Apple II?

Get out of town! *Every* small computer of the age followed the same formula, some form of back-plane to connect together various boards, with a motherboard either as part of the backplane board or one of the add-in cards. The Apple II was just another one of the same.

I've got a loft full of examples if you really want me to quote them at you, but it's such common knowledge that I'm loath to put the time in going up there, to be honest.

GJC

2
1
Boffin

IBM...

Nice try at revisionism Geoff, what have you get then? I can guarantee you that they are all post the Apple II, unless you try and trot out the Altair 8800, Apple I (!) or the Micral N which aren't really desktop microcomputers. IBM weren't in the personal computer game when the Apple II came out in 1977. The Apple II's main competitors when it was released were the ROM-only-expandable Commodore PET and the Tandy/RadioShack TRS 80 which was problematic at best when it came to expansion, forming the "'77 trinity". The Apple II series was the first commercial available microcomputer to offer expansion cards /by design/. IBM were definitely influenced by this heavily, certainly as much as Apple were 'influenced' by Xerox.

0
1
Thumb Down

Steve Jobs is a troll.

Stop feeding the troll. Stop giving press time to his million and one reasons he doesnt like flash. They are a smokescreen. The _only_ reason he doesn't like flash is that if enabled on his shiny devices, it provides an effective means of creating content with _identical_ behaviour to 99% of the tat in his app store, that can be embedded in web pages. He will lose control of the app store and its revenue stream.

That in itself is a fair enough argument and could be supported. He just looks childish coming up with all the other excuses.

23
4
Silver badge

Exactly

Flash is a platform (e.g. AIR). It's cross platform and runs independent of any controls that Apple could impose on it. That is the one and only reason it has been banned from the iPhone. It's the same reason that other competing "runtimes" are also banned, e.g. apps with scripting languages, HTML engines and so forth. For example if Apple allowed Firefox onto the iPhone then (shock horror) people would be able to run apps which were written with XUL.

We can't have that now can we?

5
1

would that it could

...or if even you were right, which you are not.

1) most flash content online is ALREADY free, and would equally be so in the iOS store. Supporting flash might actually save apple money, not cost it.

2) even with flash on phones, do you have any idea how few flash apps actually WORK on it? Few if any flash games do at all, most crash the device, or at best kill background apps and tabs you otherwise wanted open when the flash content fills all available RAM.

3) 95% of the fortune 500 use flash on their web sites, but only 6% do it for any content other than display ADS!

4) every native app i have in iOS that is a clone of a flash app works MUCH better, runs more stable, has better graphics(or the same), has better response, backgrounds without issue, survives being killed or re-launched and returns exactly where i left it, and most of them have sufficiently better UIs. And, while playing them, i see far less ad content (if any at all) and many of them can be played with no connection to the net at all.

There are but a few reasons Apple does not like Flash.

1) it's CLOSED, and royalty burdened

2) its the single largest target of Viruses actively infecting machines out of every app in the world

3) it's buggy as hell

4) there's no need to use RAM and CPU to maintain an RTE engine when it;s not doing anything, especially something Java itself can readily replicate with better performance and better functionality if someone bothered to learn a "real" language to write their code in.

5) Adobe has yet to actually submit a version of flash for mobiles that actually runs ALL flash code. Even flash 10.2 upcoming still only supports a subset of flash sites, and poorly at that.

6) everything flash can do, excluding encryption and some types of overtly annoying ad content, can be done in other available completely free systems, or though a native app.

Jobs may be a troll in your view, but Adobe is a PARASITE, one with a failing business model, buggy insecure software, and no future vision. They are readily replaced, and easily forgotten once done. In nearly 3 years surfing on an iPhone, 3 times only have i found a site i could not get the data i wanted from (or find an alternative hosting the exact same content) because i didn't have flash. 2 of those 3 also can't be browsed in Froyo with flash 10.1, and the latter was a web demo I was able to request as a standalone executive I ran on a PC later (without installing flash).

See, in the business world, most of us already live without flash. It's BANNED, as a security risk. We also removed Acrobat for similar reasons. We are under government mandated security guidelines, and we actually have to ACTIVELY scan for flash installs, log the event, and remove it, using the exact same processes we use to document the remove virus threats. Any web site that might expect government, public sector, or major business employees to hit has already left flash behind, or uses alternatives when flash isn't available, or use Java. most of the major video sites not using encryption (which requires a native app on mobiles, since 10.1 can't do encryption), already converted to HTML5 and work just fine without flash. Only a few companies adobe is literally PAYING to keep flash online are sticking to it.

4
9

Web Apps?

> It's cross platform and runs independent of any controls that Apple could impose on it. That is the one and only reason it has been banned from the iPhone.

Great theory, but if all that is true why are Apple encourage the development of web apps as an alternative to native Cocoa Touch development.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Abort / Retry / Fail

Bloody marvelous, 20 million more flashturbators on the planet

1
3

Dear Mr Jobs...

Please can you ban Adobe Acrobat from your shiney aluminium toys too. I would very much like to see Adobe fix that massively bloated and slow walking corpse that is Adobe Acrobat. While I avoid it like a plague of zombies, I have no choice in a work environment.

3
1
Go

Jobs Replies...

OSX renders pdfs natively. You can read and create pdfs without the need for Acrobat on a Mac.

2
0
Silver badge

Torn...

I really am torn on this... On one hand I hate St Jobs' "I know what's good for you" control freak attitude, the main reason I own nothing fruit-themed, but on the other hand I hate the lazy arty "web designers", ironically most of whom work on Macs, that don't/can't write HTML and just throw an entire site up that is nothing more than embedded flash!

So in summary, I demand the right to waste my mobile bandwidth and data cap by downloading a huge, pointless flash thingy if I want to, but I also want to be able to turn it off in my mobile browser!

5
3
FAIL

Lazy...

What a trite post and utter bullshit to boot! The majority of web designers do indeed work on Macs, but a significant majority hand code websites using standards-based semantic markup. I suggest Steve that you remove your head from your arse.

3
3
Silver badge

Re: Lazy

Did I say *all*? No I did not. I singled out the lazy ones who's entire HTML consists of the flash embedding wrapper which they automatically generate.

You decided to walk into the firing line of my comment all by yourself.

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Grow up Steve.

You insinuated it. Get over yourself and get that head out of your arse.

0
1

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums