Apple CEO Steve Jobs was right about Adobe’s Flash

“I’m not sure given the huge success of the iPad and the iPhone that I can really tear apart Thoughts on Flash from a pure business perpective at this juncture,” Jason Perlow writes for ZDNet. “A year ago, many of us had some doubts that the iPad would be able to penetrate the the market with a clear abscence of such an important web standard built into the device. We were wrong.”

“Clearly, despite which many critics in and outside the tech industry regarded as the device’s prime limitation (myself included at the time) the products have been doing exceptionally well,” Perlow writes. “This hasn’t stopped of course the various industry competitors from coming out with Flash-compatibile devices. Adobe has continued to develop Flash 10.2 for Android, first releasing for Froyo (2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) smartphones and recently for Honeycomb (3.0) tablets. This was also followed by a release of Abobe AIR 2.x on Android for deploying stand-alone Flash apps as well.”

“But the software on Android hasn’t been without its problems. Many Android phones currently on the market and the first crop of Froyo-based tablets aren’t really powerful enough to run Flash-enabled web pages effectively,” Perlow writes. “While Flash ‘runs’ it tends to bog down the OS, and many Android smartphone users turn the plugin off unless specific content needs to be viewed.”

Perlow writes, “Steve Jobs’ predictions on how Flash would affect the mobile experience have effectively turned out to be correct.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The absence of Adobe’s antiquated, piggish Flash on iOS devices is a benefit.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Adobe warns of major exploit in Flash 10.2 for Android, desktops; iOS users unaffected – April 12, 2011
Adobe inflicts Flash 10.2 beta; Android phone ‘chokes’ on test video – March 18, 2011
Adobe Flash hit with new ‘critical’ zero-day attack; iOS users unaffected – March 15, 2011
Steve Jobs posts rare open letter: Thoughts on Flash – April 29, 2010


  1. Instead of Apple selling less iOS devices because of the lack of Flash, the sites that use Flash are getting less views. Ain’t that a bitch 😛

  2. With this article, Perlow is pretending to be objective.
    And yet, in this entire, rather lengthy article, he never once mentions the battery drain caused by FLASH.

    And there’s this, from Perlow;
    So Jobs, at least from a technical standpoint in his open letter from last year is only partially correct. Flash runs sucky on mobile hardware and on the Mac only because Apple refuses to spend the time and due diligence with Adobe to fully optimize it correctly.

    So according to Perlow, it’s Apple’s responsibility to make Adobe’s products suck less.

    I’m a long way away, but I can smell Perlow from here.
    It’s not a pleasant odour.

    1. Wow – that would sure be the tail wagging the dog.

      I wonder if some of these analysts are still mentally stuck in the 90s, where Apple did indeed have to kowtow to their biggest software makers (Microsoft and Adobe) in that way. That’s certainly no longer the case now.

      I also wonder if Perlow’s thesis is a mirror of the approach Adobe is pushing other platform makers to follow. Certainly, Adobe would love it if all the platform owners out there (RIM, HP, etc.) took time away from building and maintaining their own platforms to help Adobe improve theirs.

      Adobe needs to fix their own problems. And the evidence to date strongly suggests they’re not really capable of doing so, at least not to the extent that they need to.

    2. FWIW, in reading the comments on the original article, it appears that there’s a noteworthy bias of posters talking about how they’ve used Flash for their Enterprise intranet… sorry, but a company’s failure to use open standards isn’t anyone’s fault but their own.

      Ditto for the public … and in this area, my wife is in Web Development at a Fortune 50 … and they’ve added iOS compatibility to their requirements lists. I only found out because our personal home iPad was suddenly ‘borrowed’ a few weeks ago to check out a page-rendering problem report that came in during a weekend.

      In any case, there’s really two issues here. The first is if there’s different use cases between Enterprise and the general consumer public. That’s a very obvious slam-dunk, “duh”.

      The second issue is more basic: is Adobe Flash really a Web Standard? The answer is that it is “No”. Flash is a defacto one, but it remains a *Proprietary* product with no Standards Board oversight. As NHL points out above, this means that Perlow got it 100% wrong when suggesting that Adobe’s problems were Apple’s responsibility.

      Finally, what I learned recently that further muddies the waters, Adobe actively seeks to bypass APIs in order to talk to hardware directly in order to gain more performance (and less battery-sucking). This is why Flash runs faster on Windows than OS X: Adobe has worked with all of the graphics card manufacturers to have their drivers customized to support additional features for Flash that the APIs don’t provide…and got direct calls for hardware acceleration.

      Now using direct calls is a very old programmer’s performance trick (CROSSTALK used it 20+ years ago), but it is also the fundamental reason why it is invariably less secure and less stable: the OS’s sandboxing of Applications has been purposefully circumvented.

      Circumvent my stability & security? UNinstall.


  3. Shocking, the tech savvy of media and web are effectively no match for Jobs or the average Apple user.

    Word of advice from the average user, what ever IT gives you. Seek independent advice from the other side of the of computer users- no the Microsoft crowd.

    Eyes wide shut!

  4. If the Flashtards want Flash, let them have it. Just keep the Flash crap away from iOS. If web sites want iOS users, then use some web standard. I don’t hate Flash or Flash users. I merely want some standard that mobile devices don’t have to run their batteries down trying to view some Flash site that was meant for desktop computers. Why care about Flash as long as you can view content some other way.

  5. Speaking of Adobe AIR, my new car’s owners manual is on a DVD and requires Adobe AIR to be viewed. When sitting there on a static page doing absolutely NOTHING, it consumes 185% of my cores (that’s 1.85 cores of my 8-core Mac Pro) and runs the temperature from a balmy 85 degrees up to 115. That’s almost as hot as that new red Charger R/T-Max I got! 🙂

    And the software developers at Adobe think this is OK???

      1. I’ll second that! About a year ago or so I realized two things:
        1. I hadn’t used Word or Excel in ages, preferring Bean or iWork.
        2. I also hadn’t used Photoshop in ages, finding everything I need in Graphic Converter or Pixelmator.

        I then located all the Adobe and MS apps on my hard drive and dragged them to the Trash. CleanApp helped locate a whole lot of associated files scattered all over my hard drive. I wound up reclaiming nearly 3GB worth of space by getting rid of Adobe/MS software.

        I’ve been happily enjoying my much speedier Mac now and haven’t felt the need to go reinstall any of them.

    1. You mean a FIAT Charger R/T-Max?
      Does it come with it’s own mechanic? A year from now, the flash manual will be the least of your worries.
      (F)ix (I)t (A)gain (T)ony

      I feel your pain on the crappy flash content. It’s not why I bought a new VW Golf TDI- it’s because gas is so damned high. 45mpg Highway (real world) is kinda nice right now.

  6. Its run its course, flash that is.

    It was great back in the day when it was a new technology from a nice little company called Macromedia.

    The original Shockwave really added multimedia elements to the web when they were severely lacking. I knew cartoonists and animators that loved it for producing web content.

    Those days have past. Adobe cannot for the life of them get a decent mobile version of it together. Sure it exists on Android but has anyone tried it? Jesus.. it left my phone quite quickly after testing it.

    Rest in peace… and thanks for the memories!

    1. That’s great and all. But can we come out with an alternative piece of software for cartoonists and animators (rather than have to code everything) BEFORE we bury Flash.

  7. In my mind, Apple has handled this brilliantly.

    They basically put Adobe in a situation where they couldn’t beg or threaten or bully or sneak their way into iOS – their only option was to go elsewhere and prove Apple wrong, by making Mobile Flash work, and work well.

    This, they have utterly failed to do.

    With every month that goes by, with every negative review of Flash on a smartphone or tablet, their fading window of opportunity slides inexorably shut.

    And you have to wonder how much longer they’ll keep trying to push against it – the costs of trying to maintain identically-functioning Flash plugins for so many desktop, phone and tablet platforms has to be astronomical, and I doubt Adobe are making enough money from Flash for all that work to be worthwhile.

    By late 2012 or 2013, I’m thinking the fate of Flash will be pretty clear – if they’ve not turned things around by then, they won’t be able to. My prediction is that they’ll eventually have to give up their dreams of web conquest – Flash will no longer be a “standard” (gag) part of the web experience. Most likely, Adobe will settle for pursuing platform app ambitions via Adobe AIR, cross-platform compilers, etc.

  8. Imagine all the Flash-based ads iOS users would have to deal with, if Flash was available for iPad. That is the true benefit. 90% of the time, Flash is being used to bombard users with advertising, not to display content the user actually WANTS to view. (Even on MDN’s web site…)

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