28 May 2010 | Team Tamar

Chewing on Apple: Has Jobs killed Flash?

My perception of Apple is that of the good guy with Microsoft being the bad guy – PCs get viruses Macs don’t. The Apple brand always maintains an air of Californian free spirit, born out of Sixties hippie culture, whose principles are clearly evident in their products and user-friendly operating systems. But with Apple’s continued blockade against Adobe Flash are their true colours appearing?

The Apple v Adobe war rages on with the balance seemingly shifting towards Steve Jobs. Having posted his ‘Thoughts on Flash’ article has Jobs put the first nail in the Flash coffin?

The feud started when Apple refused Adobe Flash onto its iPods, iPhones and now iPads, Jobs blaming Flash for being the ‘number one reason Macs crash’. Another reason mentioned is the fact the software is not open-source calling it 100% proprietary and a ‘closed system’. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen countered Apple’s arguments by saying it had ‘nothing to do with technology and that Macs crashing was all down to Apple’s operating system.

So whilst a lot of Apple’s reasons for not supporting Flash are widely accepted by web developers ultimately there are drawbacks: Video content (BBC, for example) and Flash driven websites cannot be viewed on iPhones/iPads.

You would think that this limits Apple considerably, thus a flaw in its business model, but there seems to be a masterplan here. Apple is basically taking a bold step in pushing web developers to switch to other video playing technology like the open-source technology H.264 which it supports. This switch is now very likely given Apple’s ever growing popularity and more and more companies wanting an iPhone presence.  Apple’s gamble is that truly open-source phones like the Vodaphone HTC Desire, which run Flash, could increase its market share.

Jobs’ criticisms of Flash strikes of double standards: If Flash is 100% propriety then why does Apple restrict the sale of iPhone/iPad apps to its App store and also take a cut of the developer’s app revenue. Also, Apple places a lot of restrictions on iPhone/iPad app development – so not truly open-source there. Once we have bought our iPhone we buy the apps and we are tied in and you cannot transfer apps to other phone devices – More restriction. A great article that puts the counter argument defending Flash, by Darien Graham-Smith, ‘Six reasons why Steve Jobs is wrong on Flash’ is well worth a read.

Whilst I am big fan of Apple my image of them is changing; the larger Apple gets the more they seem to act like a big corporation flexing their muscle stamping out anything that gets in their way. Maybe Microsoft was never that bad after all!

My perception of Apple is that of the good guy with Microsoft being the bad guy – PCs get viruses Macs don’t. The Apple brand always maintains an air of Californian Free spirit, born out of Sixties hippie culture, whose principles are clearly evident in Apple’s products and user-friendly operating system. But with Apple’s continued blockade against Adobe Flash are their true colours appearing?

The Apple v Adobe war rages on with the balance seemingly shifting towards Steve Jobs. Having posted his ‘Thoughts on Flash’ article has Jobs put the first nail in the Flash coffin?

The feud started when Apple refused Adobe Flash onto its iPods, iPhones and now iPads, Jobs blaming Flash for being the ‘number one reason Macs crash’. Another reason mentioned is the fact the software is not open-source calling it 100% proprietary and a ‘closed system’. Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen countered Apple’s arguments by saying it had ‘nothing to do with technology and that Macs crashing was all down to Apple’s operating system.

So whilst a lot of Apple’s reasons for not supporting Flash are widely accepted by web developers ultimately there are drawbacks: Video content (BBC, for example) and Flash driven websites cannot be viewed.

You would think that this limits Apple considerably, thus a flaw in the business model, but there seems to be a masterplan here. Apple is basically taking a bold step in pushing web developers to switch to other video playing technology like the open-source technology H.264. This is now very likely given Apple’s ever growing popularity and more and more companies wanting an iPhone presence. But the gamble is that truly open-source phones like the Vodaphone HTC Desire, which run Flash, could make gains in the market.

Jobs’ criticisms of Flash strike of double standards: If Flash is 100% propriety then why does Apple restrict the sale of iPhone/iPad apps to its App store and also take a cut of the developer’s app revenue. Also, Apple places a lot of restrictions on iPhone/iPad app development – so not truly open-source there. A great article that puts the counter argument defending Flash, by Darien Graham-Smith, ‘Six reasons why Steve Jobs is wrong on Flash’ is well worth a read.

Whilst I am big fan of Apple my image of them is changing; the larger Apple gets the more they seem to act like a big corporation flexing their muscle stamping out anything that gets in their way. Maybe Microsoft was never that bad after all!

Team Tamar

  • Lavelle Hurley

    Good article Richard… another reason for the hostility that Apple are now showing towards Flash is because of the strides HTML 5 is making – in particular the ability to embed video through the new tag. There has been a lot of experimentation lately with the new HTML 5 tag – even the BBC are experimenting. In the near future you may no longer need to use the, somewhat clumbersome, combination of a flash player embedded in a page using the HTML code.
    So from Apple’s point of view they no longer see Flash as an essential part of the online experience, in particular when it comes to video. Obviously Flash is used for more than just playing video.

    One major drawback of the HTML 5 tag though, is the limited or lack of support from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsers.

    Also, you made a very good point about Steve Job’s comment on Flash being a ‘closed system’. When it is increasingly evident that Apple themselves are operating a somewhat closed system. For example, firmware updates that stop you uploading music to iPod using third party software.