It seems that lately there has been a war raging between Apple and Adobe and now Steve Jobs has finally thrown down the gloves and taken it to the next level.

When Apple recently launched the iPad, they launched it with no support for Adobe’s flash player. In fact, you can’t even install it on the iPad if you wanted.

What could this mean for online media?

This one single product not supporting flash won’t be enough to throw Flash out of the marketplace, but what is going to happen as more products from Apple begin to follow suit? What are webmasters going to start doing if Steve Jobs decides to continue this trend on the iPhones, the iPods and their actual computer systems?

Webmasters who want to reach broadest audiences possible are going to be forced to ditch Flash and follow the new open media formats that all the newest web browsers are going to be supporting under the new HTML5.

Is Apple justified in their decision?

Is this a good move for Apple or are they just using their position to bully one of their rival companies? It’s an important question. In fact, this question is so important that the United States Department of Justice has decided to look into it.

In Apple’s defense, there are quite a few reasons that people should start looking for alternative ways of presenting their online media.

  1. It’s not open. Although Flash is free to download, it’s copyrights are held by Adobe. They control it’s future including it’s pricing and it’s capabilities. You have to get it from Adobe and you have to abide by their terms of service while using it. Apple advocates that all standards related to the web should be open.
  2. The Full Web. Adobe works hard to convince people that 75% of online media is available through their flash format. Just look at YouTube. What they fail to make known is that the vast majority of this material is also available in these new, open formats.
  3. Security. Flash was highlighted by Symantec as having one of the worst security records of any software during 2009. In fact, Flash has been determined to be the number one reasons that macs crash.
  4. Performance. Regardless of the platform, flash fails to deliver the high speed experience that users really desire on mobile devices. Time after time, it continue to provide experiences that are slower than the new open alternatives.
  5. No Touch-Screen Support. Flash has yet to support people using their fingers as a means of interacting with their content.

After digging through the reasons that Steve Jobs provides for moving away from Adobe Flash, it seems understandable. They seem to paint a picture of a brighter future with a much better online media experience.

So what’s so bad about not supporting flash?

Of course, it’s important to note that these new online media formats aren’t currently able to replace Flash in the aspect of interactive media. In other words, the thousands upon thousands of Flash games and interactive Flash based websites are not going to be accessible on Apple products.

Apple counters that argument by touting that they now have 50,000 apps that can be downloaded, but we all know that some of those pieces of online media haven’t been replaced by apps and some probably never will.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

~ Steve Jobs

So is Steve Jobs bullying a rival company or is he making decisions that will improve the way that we all interact with and consume online media?

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

28 Comments

  • Bruce Teague says:

    It’s an interesting topic. It sort of feels like Apple is making the decision for us on what should happen with online media formats instead of letting a better product shine through. Erks me a bit. The market should decide what happens to flash player, not Apple.

    • I really have mixed feelings about it, Bruce. I certainly understand where you are coming from with your position, but are they making the decision for you or do you have the option which mobile device you want to purchase? There are Windows based alternatives to many of the popular Apple products. Ultimately the marketplace will get to make the decision.

  • But Bruce, should we be telling Apple what to do? Apple, as well as Adobe, has the right to choose whatever products/services they want to market.
    You are right though that the market will, in the end, be the ultimate Judge on who was right and who was wrong.
    Being a total supporter of open source, I understand Steve’s position. Throw in HTML5 and Adobe’s lack of touch screen technology, and I don’t think it was a spiteful decision, I think it was strategic.

    • I agree with you, Marty. I think it was just good business for them to discontinue support for Flash. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with their decision, but I respect it and believe that it is sound.

  • Joe Boyle says:

    Apple is the doing the obvious – trying to make the public happy while forming a new market. Steve Jobs will sort it all out and prove victorious (I’m a PC fan, too πŸ˜› ).

    • You’re probably right. And like you, I’m have and love my Windows 7 PC. Steven Jobs and the team that he’s been putting together are incredibly intelligent and after having seen all the facts, I believe that they’ve made a terrific decision.

  • I am a huge Adobe fan.. I mean HUGE!!! Been using their apps for years (not an expert though lol). And, for some reason I have never been a fan of Apple or its products… Anti-Apple. However, after reading this little tid bit, I completely understand Steve Jobs logic. I was never aware that Flash has so many pitfalls, especially in the mobile media realm. So, I guess I need to make myself familiar with the new open formats as well as HTML 5.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 3 Tips to Stop Twitter Spam =-.

    • I’m exactly the same way. I’ve never been a fan of Apple. However, like you, I see a lot of terrific reasoning behind their decision to shut out Adobe’s Flash player on their mobile devices.

      • However… I may not be a big fan of Apple, but that iPad is something sweet. I’m going to be getting myself one in the near future. A few days before Apple announced the iPad, I was wishing that a computer would release something like this. Haha, it’s funny because I was thinking about the concept in my moment of laziness; lying in the bed wishing I had small computer screen to read, and also do a little typing.

        Pulling a phrase from the Microsoft Windows commericial: “Apple’s iPad was my idea!!!!” hahahahaha πŸ™‚
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: Microsoft OneNote: Make Page into a Subpage =-.

    • Mateo Gianolio says:

      I’ve also always been a fan of Adobe’s products, especially photoshop, illustrator and dreamweaver, but I have never really liked or worked with flash. I see the performance of flash as a big issue.

      Steve Jobs’ reasoning sounds logic to me and I support his decision in not including flash in Apple’s products. I love open source and I think it is the best way to keep the web evolving.

  • Once a schmuck always a schmuck pretty much sums it up.

    Feel free to delete this comment.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: It’s His FIRST Comment Contest! =-.

  • Firegirl says:

    I’m NOT a fan of Apple or Steve Jobs and I think they could shoot themselves in the foot with Adobe if they aren’t careful.

    Adobe makes some powerful tools, many of which a lot of Apple app developers use even though Flash is not supported.

    I know some people say that Apple is big enough they can make these decisions about other large corporations without it affecting their bottom line, but what happens if they keep doing this? Nobody will want to play with them anymore.

    And don’t EVEN get my started on the app censoring…
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: MW 2 Resurgence Map Pack Releases Today =-.

  • That’s what happen when two Giants don’t match each other. But why Flash running so smoothly in Windows?
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  • Vanessa says:

    I love apple all the way, so my view is biased. But I loved reading the emails between steve jobs and the Gawker.com writer. It gives it a personal touch that we don’t always read about with Jobs and I appreciate his honesty, If you don’t like it don’t buy it. And if you don’t want to publish or develop on ipads you don’t have to. You can develop your own platform this is apples and this what they want to do with it.
    http://gawker.com/5539717/steve-jobs-offers-world-freedom-from-porn
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Small Paintings =-.

  • I think that what Steve Jobs has done is wrong. As bloggers, or anyone else who brings content to an audience or even products the way Apple does, it’s important that we do so for whoever’s using the things that we make. It’s up to us to make sure that our audiences enjoy what we’ve made to its maximum potential. Flash is what we, Apple product users, want and Steve Jobs is doing a great disservice to us by taking it away, especially when he only plans to gain money for his own pockets.

    • Jasmine Henry from J Station X Β» I strongly disagree. I think that we think flash is what we want, but by forcing developers to learn the newest standards of HTML 5 and CSS 3 that our experiences will be much better. As I pointed out in the article, Flash is a huge security risk and it was the number 1 leading cause of Mac computers crashing. Is that what people want? They can now now deliver the same experience using HTML5 and it will be faster and more reliable and it will be completely open which means that the public owns this newer, faster, sleeker technology and we don’t have to rely on any one company for it. I’m not an Apple fan, but Steve Jobs is an incredibly smart man and there is a reason that the iPod is the most popular mp3 player of all the mp3 players on the market and there is a reason that people are willing to pay $600 – $1200 for an Apple iPod. It’s hard to argue with success.

  • Arcnerva says:

    Probably both – there are a lot of issues here. I honestly don’t think it will hurt either one of them. Mac fans will support the decision, even if it short changes them some. Flash is very well established with no major competitors in sight in my opinion. Flash will probably go away eventually, but not any time soon. It may even be Adobe that comes up with the next best thing. Who knows?
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Arcnerva Invades Holland: AP Netherlands Issue 27 =-.

  • John Mork says:

    In response to your closing question, I think the answer is “Yes”. All the negatives mentioned about Flash are true, and if Adobe doesn’t sort them out soon they’re going to have a dead product on their hands, but that conclusion isn’t going to be drawn by consumers for at least a couple of years – Flash is just still WAY too widespread for end-users and is by far the industry-standard amongst its fellows from a development/designing standpoint. So yes, clearly Adobe needs to get its act together and start getting hungry to innovate again. But since they’ve literally had ZERO viable competition since they swallowed macromedia way back when, they seem to be getting lazy. Even as a seasoned graphic design type (read: nerd), I couldn’t even offer ONE acceptable alternative to the PS, Illustrator, InDesign trinity anymore. Quark is even out of the running now. Why? Because they did exactly what Adobe seems to be starting to do: they got lazy.

    Regardless of that, all Jobs is doing by making the iPad incompatible with Flash as a matter of POLICY (that’s just stupid to me) is taking Apple’s most disappointing project in 15 years and hammering the nail deeper in to its coffin. Nearly every single person I know (again, nerds) thought they were getting an “Apple Netbook”, and what they ended up with was a giant iPhone that doesn’t make calls and can’t EVER use Flash. This is just DUMB, and it’s also bad business. Very disappointed in Apple on this one… or maybe they’re just finally showing their true colors? Oh well, I’m done. Really helpful site you have here, man. Best, jm

    • John Mork says:

      And one more thing regarding my “Apple Netbook” comment: What is really beginning to annoy me is the sheer denial the company (Apple) is in about what a Class-A Fuckup the iPad it really is. Even as a dedicated Mac user, I can’t even begin to imagine what they were thinking. All I can think is that they got so caught up in the engineering challenge of making the thing simply WORK (which I’m sure was a major challenge) that the functionality/practicality/user experience aspect was just an afterthought. I’m literally shaking my head in disgust right now thinking about the operating system it runs on.. I just don’t get it. And now that I’ve read this article and see that Jobs is being stubborn rather than smart, I’ve lost all hope for what could have been a really great gamechanger of a product. OK, I think you get the point… sorry for the rant! jm

  • Arcnerva says:

    Haven’t Tablet PC’s that CAN run Flash existed for years now? I mean, I am sure its cool and all but I don’t really see what all the hype is about.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Arcnerva Invades Holland: AP Netherlands Issue 27 =-.

    • Arcnerva Β» The hype is that Apple has created a product that is by far outselling tablet PC’s and that by making the decision to scrap the Flash player they will be ripping a huge portion of revenue away from Adobe as now they won’t be selling as much flash design software and flash designers are going to have to shift to learn a new skill or go out of business. Steve Jobs is using his market share to push through a dramatic change. As users, we probably won’t notice much. Designers and design software makers like adobe are going to be noticing a huge shift in the website development community. But in my opinion, this is a good shift and a better product is on its way.

  • T says:

    I am so frustrated with this ridiculous fight between Steve Jobs and Adobe. I love my Ipad but I cannot access so many things. If Jobs is going to deny the consumer access on his devices then he needs to create a product that will work better than Adobe!!!!!

  • Xander says:

    Flash was originally developped for touch interaction. Can even do multi touch and nowadays gesture too.

    But even if you don’t know this, you should wonder ‘ what other option is out there?’

    Do you think HTML5 has any touch support?

    Isn’t there…

    Security: flash plugin has the 2nd lowest number of vulnerabilies in 2009. An impressive number, considwring it being among the most spread out internet technologies.

    Crashing: that’s entirely a Mac issue. Adobe doesn’t get full access from Apple, so they can.t oprimize the pkugin completely.

    Last but not least: by no means does Flash use more computer power than other multi media internet solutions. Many tests out there can show you this.

    And it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself what flash can do and what needs to be done to achieve similar things without flash. Just Html5 won’t do the trick. You’ll need javascript , specials video codecs (closed formats, not open source), things will look different on differebt computer systems, because of no font embedding, filesize will also increase, etc etc.

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