“Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.” That’s the conclusion of a long (for the Internet) post by Steve Jobs himself on Apple’s website. Jobs takes on critics who don’t like it that, on iPhone and iPad products, Apple has refused to support Adobe’s widely-used Flash technology for video, games and user interfaces.
In an essay titled “Thoughts on Flash,” Jobs tries to reverse the claim that the iPhone and iPad are “closed” to third-party software, rather than open, because only Apple-approved apps can win placement in Apple’s App Store. You’ve got it backwards, he says. Apple is open, Adobe is closed.
The post comes one day after bloggers noticed that Apple’s annual software design awards will be restricted this year to only iPhone/iPad apps. Software for the more open and freewheeling Mac OS X platform, which ships on Apple’s Mac-branded desktop, notebook and server gear, will be excluded from the awards. “This is because [of] Apple’s secret plans for OS X rolling over to the closed ‘shop’ model of software distribution,” one VentureBeat reader speculated.
His Steveness doesn’t comment on what’s up with Macs and OS X. He does list six reasons why he feels he’s got the right approach to Flash: Pretend it doesn’t exist.
Here’s the executive summary:
- Videos currently encoded in Flash can just as easily be served in an open-standard format, specifically H.264. On top of that, Apple has video content deals with “Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others.”
- Security and reliability: “Flash is the number one reason Macs crash.” Oh, and Jobs slips in performance, too. He says Apple has never seen Flash “perform well on a mobile device, any mobile device. We have never seen it.”
- Battery life. “H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours.”
- Touchscreen interaction. Apple does it, Adobe Flash doesn’t. Why wasn’t this reason No. 1?
- Adobe’s extra layer of technology, Flash, interferes with app development rather than making it better. As Jobs long-windedly put it, “We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.”
In conclusion, Jobs claims that “Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice.”
Update: Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan responds.