Last month, Steve Jobs announced that Apple will no longer be using Flash on its devices like the iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. He then went on to give 6 reasons to back the statement.
- Although Adobe says that Apple devices cannot access the “full web” due to so much of the web’s video content being in Flash, Jobs points out that many sites now offer the same content in H.264 codec, so iPad users are missing very little.
- According to studies done by Symantec, Flash had the worst security records in 2009; Flash is also the number one reason for Macs to crash.
- Flash drains battery life, in some cases by more than 50% when compared to using H.264 codec videos.
- Flash is designed for a PC and a mouse, not for touch screens, so rollovers and other interactive components can be an issue.
- Apple does not want developers to use a “third party cross platform development tool,” preferring to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to their developers so that they can design applications that are unique to their needs and take full advantage of feature on Apple devices.
Of course, Adobe could not stand idly by and say nothing. Consequently, the founders of Adobe, Chuck Geshke and John Warnock, have responded to Jobs, stating:
- Saying that they believe in open markets and have"openness to innovation". Adobe has launched a new campaign titled "We (heart) Choice" where they state, "We support technologies like HTML4, HTML5, CSS, and H.264."
- Flash was originally designed to be used with tablets that have touch interfaces. For content designed with a PC and mouse in mind, Flash 10.1 (this is scheduled to be released in June 2010) will work.
- Concerning battery life- Flash 10.1 will improve battery life, codec execution, memory use, and hardware-accelerated video playback and the Flash Player will be ideal for laptops, tablets, desktops and netbooks.
- Regarding security problems, Adobe has taken steps to improve Flash vulnerability and are correcting concerns within Flash as quickly as possible.
- Adobe states that Flash Player is part of both open and proprietary technologies and that anyone can design their own SWF or FLV/F4V player.
For those on the sidelines of the Apple-Adobe debate, there are many opinions. Some, such as James R. Borck of InfoWorld Test Center, feels that Adobe is making progress in hardware acceleration and that Flash is a solid and well-designed content delivery platform that has continually changed to keep up with a rapidly growing web ecosystem.
Others like Michael Gartenberg of the Altimeter Group, feel that Adobe should focus on what users are missing out on if they don’t have Flash rather than spending time talking about "open" or "closed" technology. Gartenberg has also commented that in order for Adobe to be successful, they ought to convince Apple customers to pressure Apple to makes changes; however since Apple sales are skyrocketing, this doesn’t seem to be likely.
When it comes to security issues, Ed Bott of PC Computing Magazine recently checked the facts concerning Adobe’s response and found while Adobe stated "that they had the second fewest number of vulnerabilities" this does not accurately tell the story. Bott, followed through on this statement and checked the Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report page and found 23 vulnerabilities in the Flash Player and Adobe Reader.
Apple’s stance on Flash seems to have made an impact on web development as well. Several web developers, have had clients specifically ask for sites that are compatible with Apple mobile devices. Daniel Trimpey, CEO of Page Progressive, a web development company in Raleigh, NC says:
Big names and technical arguments aside, many consumers and web developers have one opinion in common: The belief that by Apple choosing to keep 3rd party programs from developing cross-platform apps, that Apple is wanting to "corner the market" so they have no risk of profit loss from apps that are not confined to the Apple iTunes Store.
Only the future will tell if Flash technology will remain prevalent in website development, but with support from Nokia and also Google, who develops the popular Android mobile operating system, chances are Flash will be sticking around at least for now.