Steve Jobs on Flash: Correcting the Lies

Apple has posted Steve Jobs’ “Thoughts on Flash“. There are a lot of lies and half truths. No one will care. The article has enough valid points that people won’t check up on them.

That said, here’s my attempts to correct the lies.

Lie  #1: “Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary.”

The Flash IDE, yes.  The Flash Player, no.  Here is a list of technologies open sourced/published by Macromedia/Adobe that are in the Flash Player ecosystem:

  1. ActionScript 3 runtime, called Tamarin.  Given to Mozilla to hopefully utilize in future browsers.
  2. RTMP (and it’s ilk), the protocol for real-time video & audio streaming as well as data (AMF).  Yes, many want “more” open sourced.  Red5 and Wowza seem to be doing just fine with what is there currently.
  3. The SWF format itself, which is what Flash Player plays/runs, has most of it’s spec published in case you want to generate SWF files.

This street goes both ways, too.  Macromedia/Adobe has adopted open source technologies into Flash Player with the hopes of embracing standards, not just the de-facto ones.

  1. ActionScript 1, 2, and 3 are all based on EMCAScript.  Yes, it’s not as compliant as many would like.  Additionally, Adobe did participate in many ECMA Script discussions/debates.  Yes, 4 didn’t turn out so well for Adobe.
  2. The XML parsing is based on E4X, ECMA Script for XML.

I’m not saying Adobe’s open sourced a lot of the Flash Player.  There’s open source, there’s published, and then there is open source.

Regarding their products, he’s wrong there too.  The Flex SDK, one of the biggest boosts for the Flash Platform in the past 4 years, is also open source (yes, the real kind).  Most utilize Flex Builder, built on top of the open source Eclipse.

Using a blanket statement saying Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary is a lie.  It paints an incorrect & negative picture over all the wonderful things Macromedia/Adobe have done in open source around their products.

Lie #2: “HTML5 being adopted by Google”

Google created the first browser to fully integrate plugins, and continues to work with Adobe to do so.  Google also utilizes Flash Player in Gmail for both file uploading, and configuring your web cam.  Google utilizes Flash Player in their online maps product for street view.  Google Finance utilizes Flash Player for a lot of their charts.  Their video site, YouTube, utilizes Flash Player for their videos.

Google didn’t start out with Flash.  They started with text, AJAX, and later Flash.  They’ve done a lot of forays into HTML5, yes, and will continue to do so.  Saying they are “adopting” it, and only it and not Flash Player, is incorrect.

Lie #3: “…75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads…”

Incorrect.  If a video is H264, that doesn’t mean it can play on the iPhone.  If you look at the iPhone specs, you’ll see the only support a subset of what H264 offers, specifically 2 major components to quality video: Using a maximum of the Baseline profile, with Simple for higher bitrates/resolutions, as well as 2.5 for maximum (ish) bitrate.

Not all H264 videos conform to these specs.  YouTube converted a lot of their Spark (Flash 6/7) videos to H264 to support iPhone because there was money to be gained in the large investment.  Even so, not all YouTube videos work on the iPhone, in part because of the aforementioned reasons.  There is a reason why when you upload a H264 video to YouTube, they’ll often re-encode it.

I’ve been in web video for 7 years.  Getting video to work in the browser is the easy part.  Setting up video encoding farms to support thousands/millions of users is not.  It’s hard and expensive.  Not everyone has the resources (read money and time) Google has, and that’s why companies like Brightcove are trying to capitalize on this problem.

Most importantly, HTML5 currently has no universal DRM solution.  That is why Flash Player’s RTMPE, and soon HTTP Streaming via Project Zeri, are the de-facto standard today.  Those who deploy video content they either own or license the rights to will not utilize HTML5 because it cannot be protected.  There is a reason you rent videos in iTunes using their <strike>ACC</strike> MP4 format vs. straight H264.  Legally, those videos CANNOT be utilized via HTML5.

Also, and others aren’t using H264, they’re using On2’s VP6.

Lie #4: “users aren’t missing much video.”

Every time a user see’s a blue lego instead of the video they wanted to see, they are missing a video.  There were so many people seeing the blue lego, including Steve Jobs himself on stage demoing the iPad, that they removed the blue lego as a PR effort to make it seem like there was something wrong with the website itself vs. the iPhone/iPad.

…thankfully, Grant Skinner added it back.

Lie #5: “…Flash has recently added support for H.264…”

Incorrect.  It’s been there since August of 2007.  That’s almost 3 years.  That’s a long time in technology.

Lie #6: “…must be run in software…”

Not entirely correct.  Apple FINALLY gave Adobe and others access to hardware for desktop systems, which Adobe has recently utilized.  The #1 criticism for Mac’s & Flash video is lack of hardware acceleration.  This move by Apple will go a long way to improving video experiences, not just for Flash, for browser based video.  Meaning, cooler Macs and more battery life.

For mobile, Safari/WebKit is using H264 hardware decoding just fine.  They just won’t expose it, forcing yet again, Flash to utilize a sub par video experience for iPhone (having to launch a URL to utilize the iPhone’s default video player vs. incorporating the video into the experience).

Lie #7: “…When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all…”

See #3.  Also, not all Flash video is just a video block on a page.  Some are immersive experiences, games, or involved in compositing with other objects (alpha channels, easier particle systems, etc).  HTML5 does not currently support some of these features.

Finally, not all video is pre-recorded and progressive.  Live and streamed events are currently done using Flash Player and Silverlight.  Yes, I’ve seen systems that can do live H264 via progressive with only seconds latency over CDN’s, regardless, they aren’t what’s being used en masse today.  This includes DVR like functionality that both technologies offer, including Adative Streaming capabilities to ensure you can see un-interrupted video regardless of your internet connections’s integrity.

Lie #8: “…Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers…”

Incorrect.  The whole reason Flash Player has continued to stay ahead of the curve is because Macromedia/Adobe innovates it.  There are gesture & touch API’s in the Flash Player; I and many others have used them for the iPhone resulting in a 100+ apps on the App Store.

Lie #9: “For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot.”

Incorrect.  This was already discounted 2 months ago by Mike Chambers.  Additionally, I tested both MouseEvent.CLICK, MouseEvent.MOUSE_DOWN, and MouseEvent.ROLL_OVER, and all 3 worked just fine on my iPhone.  Additionally, I’ve seen video of a Nexus One using the native Flash Player 10.1 that plays a Flex website I made just fine with no code changes to support touch.

Lie #10: “Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover.”

Incorrect.  There are roll over states for buttons on the iPhone/iPad because you can click/touch on something, which shows the roll over state, but then drag off to not trigger the up, thus canceling your button click if you didn’t meant to touch something.  Works the exact same way as a mouse does.

Lie #11: “Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.”

Incorrect, see Mike Chambers’ post in #9.

Lie #12: “If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?”

Those same JavaScript Developers need to do the same work Flash Developers need to do: Nothing.

If both wish to utilize Gesture or Touch events, then BOTH need to re-write/adjust their content to support these events.

Lie #13: “The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content.”

Incorrect.  See #3.  Media companies will have to create players like Netflix did to support those devices; these aren’t HTML5, they’re Cocoa.

Half-Truth #1: “Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.”

iTunes, flagship Apple software product enabling the success of the iPod, selling over 1 billion songs, and empowering digital movie rentals, isn’t Cocoa.

Gruber, the same guy who Apple apparently used as an example of why Flash doesn’t belong on the iPhone, was quoted, when referring to why Apple hasn’t ported iTunes to Cocoa:

What really matters are features and user experience, not the developer technologies used to make them.


I agree with everything else the article says.  While the spin is HTML5 is better than Flash, Apple wants you developing with Cocoa, not HTML5; that’s where the money and good user experiences are.  While many have said that the PR person responsible for writing that article is doing Apple a disservice, I disagree.  Yes, they do lose creditability writing that many lies, and yes, this just fuels the fire for many developers, not just Flash Devs, to focus on Android instead of iPhone.

However, iPhones and iPads still rock.  While Apple is “only the 10th” largest phone manufacturer, they are the only mobile platform people care about right now in the USA (unless you’re a pissed off Flash/Flex Dev).  Their app store, combined with the user experience, is un-matched.

Me?  I’m still trying to learn Cocoa so I too can participate in building applications for these wonderful devices; devices whose sales won’t be hurt by that article.  My colleagues in the industry?  Most are heading towards Android along with Adobe.  Those moonlighting in Flash & iPhone development simultaneously don’t say much, beyond correcting & helping me with my Objective C knowledge on Twitter (y’all rock!).

…oh yeah, and someone cast Cure 2 on Adobe.

158 Replies to “Steve Jobs on Flash: Correcting the Lies”

  1. Steve Jobs owned. lets see what their Nazi style propaganda do next. Sell out your AAPL stocks, history is repeating itself.

  2. Adobe has neglected users and developers in the past, as much as Steve Jobs and Apple do right now. As an OpenLaszlo developer I’ve witnessed good relationships on the technical side of the Flash Player team with he OpenLaszlo team, while at the same time the Macromedia/Adobe marketing was very aggressive.

    Technicians face the same problems in different companies, but when it’s about marketing – or propaganda – it can be hard to agree on facts. Adobe and Macromedia have been valuable contributors in the fields of RIAs, UX, interactive design. Flash has taught all of us how easy it can be to do animation, audio and video integration into browser based apps or widgets, streaming, access to the camera and microphone.

    Why doesn’t Apple come up with a cross-OS API for accessing webcams and the microphone out of Safari/Webkit? Look at what Ribbit has done with their phone SDK based on Flash! Browser based phone integration into all kind of applications, without the need to install plugins, to use ActiveX or Java applets. I’d rather have the Flash Player than not being able to provide such features in a browser. Of course, on mobiles that’s less of a problem, since there are normally APIs for camera and microphone access.

    It’s all about having a choice of technologies! As a developer I wouldn’t want to have to rely on one company or technology. It’s always tempting for any company’s management to abuse their position in the market. Open standards are good, as long as the open standard’s quality is good. Sometimes a proprietary technology is better than a standard which is not supported by a majority of technology vendors.

    But still, Steve and Apple must be under a lot of pressure if they see the need to act as aggressively as they do.

  3. Every comment here from a Flash hater is worthless, because they pathetically can’t produce a single HTML5 web site that is even half as good as a Flash site!

  4. What this article is really meant to do is to explain to the uninformed people out there why they “don’t need flash” and that they should enjoy their web experience without an integral part of the internet, Flash. This is just Jobs trying to act like a communist leader. Apple’s business plan is communism, they decide what you can use and how you use it on your Mac and if you don’t like it they don’t care they’ll just tell you to live with it.

  5. @Laurent

    Where can I download those open tools that allow me to open .fla files and produce Flash content as Adobe Flash Professional would?

    Flash CS5’s FLA format is based on XML, so you can use any text editor you want to open, inspect and modify it.

    mike chambers

  6. “..Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen”

    Yes, no other platform could deliver such a plethora of amazing Fart apps.

  7. Great post. I love Apple products, but let’s face it, sometimes Steve Jobs can be a real iHole.

  8. @mike chambers: Wow, that’s helpful. Similarly Objective-C is based on plain text, so you can use any text editor you want to open, inspect and modify it.

  9. @Marcus: perhaps you can help me. Whilst it appears you are after something to open those FLA files, I’m looking for something “non-Apple” to run that “not closed” Apple SDK on… got any ideas?

  10. “You just have to make a loud noise, and get a bunch of your friends to do the same; Adobe will listen. Sometimes.”

    Seriously? That is your argument?? You don’t think that your comment here is well, kinda retarded?

    I guess Apple is completely open as well. Apple removed firewire from laptops. People complained loudly. Firewire returned. THEREFORE APPLE IS OPEN TOO!!! See, we can all hug and sing and be happy now.

  11. @Mike I’m not making an argument, I’m stating the facts. There have been many instances beyond the 2 sound examples I gave where both publicly and privately, people have rallied for Macromedia/Adobe to add features (or even stop supporting old ones), and it’s worked. I can cite hundreds since Flash Player 5.

    The cases where it hasn’t is echo cancellation, an update to the Spark encoder (like… H264 would be nice), and customized right click menu in the browser (not AIR).

    …so sometimes seems like an accurate word to me.

  12. Apple does not want its DRONES to have the freedom of choice in how they experience the Web. The Apple dictatorship will tell you exactly what you can and can’t do in their iWeb.

  13. I run a company in the online learning space (my company’s products are used in colleges and high schools). Schools and colleges around the US will not all stand up at once and require iPads and iPhones for every student, while computer access is a given. So releasing an education product dependent on the iPad/iPhone for delivery is a non-starter for an education company. Using the Web/browser combination is the only option.

    Almost every learning company delivers a lot of content as interactive animations, with Flash (and perhaps Silverlight) as the only option for delivery. Apple/Jobs has no answer for this type of educational media. Being an Apple fan (got started developing media in HyperCard), if they did, I would seriously consider adopting their development tools and browser-based media delivery software. Apple treats Flash as if it is all about video: but in education it isn’t, not even close.

    Apple’s/Jobs’ answer to games (and he means interactive animations too here) is to write a separate iPad app to handle this interactivity. But we are back to the issue described in the first paragraph above. There simply is no good developer tool/software for creating rich interactive media in HTML5. I have seen the HTML5 animation examples on the Web: they are poor, limited in interactivity, and likely took the developer 50X longer to do than one of my Flash developers could do in Flash.

    I hope that there are many things afoot that will quickly change the landscape for Adobe on mobile devices. Hopefully things will change when Amazon (Kindle), HP, Dell etc. all have competing products that do run Flash. If these devices fail to provide a good experience for users running Flash, or Adobe fails to provide a workable solution for those devices, then Job’s stance will be proven sound. However, Apple can easily take this position while they have little competition for this unique and revolutionary device.

    Furthermore, processors keep getting faster, and batteries better. The performance issue will become less of an issue as new devices come out.

  14. Thank you for responding to my comment. I actually do appreciate it. However, I think your response is still inaccurate. You somehow feel that responding “sometimes” is democratic. Although you admit that this is not “quite like” a standards board, in reality it is nothing like a standards board.

    People screamed loudly that the iphone had no cut and paste. Apple added it. People were upset that Flash could not access certain APIs on a Mac, Apple added it. However, I would not describe this process as democratic. Similarly, Adobe’s process is not democratic, and, like Apple’s, is driven by what is best for Adobe, and not for the open experience of everyone.

    I also think your other comments are too technical. I will admit, I am a lawyer and not a developer. But I will say if you think Flash is anything but proprietary try stealing some code from it and see what Adobe’s response is. I will also state that the iphone’s closed system has been great for my firm, much easier for the average lawyer to use, and I haven’t had any phone thrown at my like when we had windows mobile.

    But I would like some part of this ecosystem to be open: I think the best solution is to at least try to keep the web open as much as possible. So that way if I like Apple products I can view the web on an Apple product. If I like a Microsoft product, I can view the web on that product. I don’t have to worry whether Microsoft is going to port a certain extension to a Mac, I don’t have to worry whether Adobe will support my 64 bit browser, etc. A standards based web therefore will be what is in common for everyone.

    Wouldn’t you rather see HTML5 succeed over flash? I realize that there is work to be done in this area, but do you think it would happen as quickly without Steve Jobs pushing this?

  15. just having the sdk proprietary is enough. You can’t port flash without it. Some platforms that actually support flash are stuck on flash 7.

    And saying google is adopting html5 is not a lie. There is in fact a youtube site available (beta) that doesn’t even use flash anymore. Saying they have switched from something else to flash has nothing to do with today. that happened at least ten years ago. It’s frankly not a necessary technology by any means, and is a huge processor hog. I have a home computer i can’t use it on, 733mhz.
    lie #3: Exactly which gen of iphone is that? It’s by no means the latest.
    lie#4: Seeing that symbol doesn’t mean we are missing a video. They almost always have a download link underneath.
    lie#9: You tested javascript. This doesn’t make what he said a lie. Flash has these capabilites as well. A lot of sites use flash instead of javascript to hide link addresses.
    Lie #13: netflix didn’t do anything different than they did on the pc platform. That player runs silverlight, which is pc only and only firefox or IE. They needed to write a cocoa player anyway to support macs.

    If i didn’t know better (and i don’t) i would think the author works for microsoft in the spin zone since they are releasing win7 phones now that support both flash and silverlight (zero battery life though and uber-expensive). Really, if i want to watch flash video, i have a nokia n800. Works great and doesn’t tie my phone up.
    lie#5: This support wasn’t there until one of the last updates to flash 9, and it still isn’t on every platform.

  16. Thanks for the effort going through the list point by point,
    much appreciated!

    Just wish we could leave that “open or not” discussion, it’s fruitless. Flash is closed and that’s why it’s as advanced as it is today.
    Adobe is open-ear, that’s fine. By the way, Tamarin is not/will never be used, only the JIT part.

    Hope the discussion moves on to what the technological key advantages of Flash are, more features, greater expressiveness, better performance (openly addressing Mac/Linux issues, not just video), consistency across browsers, innovation…

    Cheers, M

  17. @LeeC: I haven’t claimed that the Apple SDK is anything but closed. For the “Principal Product manager for the Flash Platform” Mike Chambers to come here and suggest, seriously or not, that editing an FLA file in a text editor is an “open” alternative to Adobe Flash Professional tells you all you need to know about Adobe’s respect for open development.

    Do you think Microsoft would snarkily suggest machine code or hex editing as an “open” alternative to Visual Studio?

    Don’t kid yourself over Adobe’s intentions. They aren’t an altruistic charity for the betterment of technology.

    @RazorX: Will Adobe support Java applets natively through Flash Player or does Adobe not want its DRONES to have freedom of choice in how they experience the web? Will we be able to develop using ALGOL in Creative Suite 6 instead of ActionScript?

    Apple doesn’t owe you or Adobe anything. You and Adobe don’t owe Apple anything. The belief that a third-party creation must support whatever you want, by right, is frankly bizarre.

  18. @Mike Sorry chief, my context for democratic was “a company that has stockholders, yet still spends a lot of effort interacting with their customers”. The only real experience I have is Microsoft, Adobe, and Macromedia. The first 2 didn’t really engage me much from 2000 to 2006.

    Macromedia? Like crazy. But not just me; they were REALLY involved in the community. Mailing lists, blogs, twitter, facebook, bars, conferences… you name it, there were there. Either hanging out, hearing the story, talking, and especially listening.

    That, and you could see like 4 people agree on something we needed, a Macromedia person nod, and like 6 months later, it’d be in Flash/Flash Player. This happened multiple times. As I was invited to more early discussions, I saw the same thing happen.

    So, yeah, I think it was very democratic considering this company owed stock holders dividends, not necessarily me validation for time spent talking/making my business use case(s) to Macromedia, yet spent a lot of time engaging us.

    When Adobe bought bought Macromedia, while they nixed the mailing lists and used their god awful forums, they still had that same engagement for their products. I’m not claiming it’s a standards body at ALL. Jobs saying it’s “closed” is bs, though… those people are VERY open to discussions; from the Flash Player engineers to the Project Managers. I never miss a moment to bitch them out about my latest woe at a conference. They rock to put up with me and thousands of others who bitch and whine, and do so because they provide a pretense they are listening and acting on that information. I feel they do act on a lot of it, or try anyway.

    When you compare that to ECMA… wow. Dude, go read the mailing lists. That stuff was bloody. That, and then compare ActionScript’s growth from a point and click piece meal JavaScript implementation in Flash 4, a mini-JavaScript in Flash 5, ActionScript 1 and Flash 6, a class based AS2 with strong-typing at compile time (what ECMA 4 was hopefully going to be), to a fully fledged programming language in AS3 with real strong-typing, a JIT for C like speed, and STILL supported on ARM, Intel, and PowerPC. All of that in 6 years.

    Has JavaScript made it that far in 6 years? I love JavaScript, but committee’s might be good for setting standards, but for getting things done, um… not seeing a good track record here. My clients want things done, Flash Player gets it done, and I continue to get innovation. Innovation that I can participate in. Microsoft is even scarier. Now that they got their act together with Silverlight, go look at the feature parity from Silverlight 1 to 4 to Flash Player current. Those guys, when they get their act together, can get things done too; and Microsoft has definitely engaged people like me, who aren’t even in the Microsoft community, to see what we want/need. This helps them build a more relevant product, and thus people like me may get organizations to buy their tools.

    Don’t get me wrong, 2004 was great. 2010… not so much. Adobe’s got it rough on multiple fronts, and if you look at my past blog posts, especially the last one, they’ve let the community down big time. Just because 2 years of layoffs does good for stock price doesn’t mean my job gets any easier, nor theirs. Case in point, I’m suffering learning Objective C, a 20+ year old language… to code experiences for the greatest phone ever? Say wha…? Do you not see the irony there? I love my iPhone; I recognize I need to sacrifice a lot to drop all the wonderful things the Flash platform gives me to get my content on iPhone… but wow, thanks for nothing Adobe. Same goes for designer / developer workflow. Yes, they are working hard, and are showing progress on this front too… but Catalyst + Flex 4 + Flash integration have a looong way to go. In the meantime, we suffer with complicated workflows that do not necessarily help ensure software launches. Software is hard enough, I don’t need more complications.

    Regarding stealing… that’s a little dramatic. No one would think of stealing code from the Flash Player. I get your point, but I believe Adobe wants you to build on their platform, however you can. Flash Player is free; they make money on tools. If you hack Flash Player onto your device, or perhaps create a new streaming mechanism… as long as you didn’t blatantly hack RTMPE, I bet you they’d embrace it, or at a minimum condone it (Playstation 1’s hacked player for Rogue Squadron and other XBox game implementations, some of the early mobile devices back in 2003, etc.). Yes, I don’t think it’s entirely altruisitic; it’s based on if we find some vertical, they can promote it and sell tools. But what’s wrong with that? I love Capitalism, and encouraging the community to be creative with their platform… that’s just the Macromedia/Adobe MO… we’re creatives!

    Dude, I think you’ll like Windows Mobile 7. Seriously, wait for my next show, it looks hot, and it sounds like Microsoft has the hiring right now. Granted, it’s all vaporware till you and I have a phone in our hands, but I liked what I saw at MIX 2010.

    It’s not about HTML5 succeeding over Flash. For me, it’s “what is most fun to develop in”. Right now, that’s Flash. For my fellow community goers? Well, as people with short attention spans, we ALWAYS look for the cool new thing. For awhile it was Unity, and then iPhone. The problem with HTML5 currently is it has a lot of features that Flash 5 had in 2000… so, that isn’t really fun for someone who’s already delivered those types of experiences to customers dozens of times. Time for something new, fresh, and awesome!

    For desktops, Flash Player currently already delivers that, and makes it easy to do so. HTML5 doesn’t, and is just as fragmented on Java is on Nokia mobiles. Seriously, go to Google’s wave on your iPhone; says it doesn’t work, yet Safari is an HTML5 enabled browser. Google is cool, and lets you try to surf it anyway… but you see what I mean? When I build something with Flash Player, I know it works. When I build something for XBox, I know it’ll work on all XBoxes. Same with iPhone. The difference here is Adobe doesn’t control desktop hardware, yet they’ve created a technology I can depend on with various hardware; thus the web. That’s hot. HTML5? Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will NOT support the same HTML5 features. They don’t already; go read any web developer’s woe’s, or all the “AJAX will kill Flash” bs that popped up 4 years ago that never happened. The HTML5 spec won’t be completed for over a decade, yet all 4 vendors (yes, including Opera, sorry 5) will move forward on “their” HTML5 implementation. None will be in parity.

    If HTML5 allows my clients to go, “Holy S$*(), that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, I love the 21st century, please build me that!” then sure, I’m all over it. Right now, I’m not impressed, the toolsets aren’t mature, and there are 4 runtimes to target that are all different. Screw that mess. That, and I’m heavy into video. There isn’t any DRM. If IE9 got, it doesn’t matter; the only other contender that matters, Firefox, is obsessed with Ogg Theora and won’t use H264 because it’s “proprietary”.

    However, yeah, totally agree; Apple championing it has helped I believe. It’s all a farce, though; I’m learning Objective C to deliver cool experiences on iPhone, not JavaScript, HTML, and CSS hehe…

  19. @Marcus

    For the “Principal Product manager for the Flash Platform” Mike Chambers to come here and suggest, seriously or not, that editing an FLA file in a text editor is an “open” alternative to Adobe Flash Professional tells you all you need to know about Adobe’s respect for open development.

    A simple question was posed:

    Where can I download those open tools that allow me to open .fla files and produce Flash content as Adobe Flash Professional would?

    There are multiple tools and technologies (not created or controlled by Adobe) that can create and work with Flash content. If someone wants to create a full Flash authoring environment (similar to Flash authoring), then they can. There is nothing, and no one stopping them.

    I dont see how my answer to a simple question, is somehow translated “Adobe’s [lack of] respect for open development”.

    mike chambers

  20. @lordorwell Yes Google has an HTML5 beta, so does Vimeo. They suck, have you used them? They just aren’t as responsive. Even if “they” (meaning Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, and Google) fix their browsers to make HTML5 more responsive, that’ll be half a decade or more before it’s ubiquitous, and that’s just the web, not including mobile.

    I’m glad they are doing it; hopefully Google’s purchase of On2 (makers of Spark video for Flash Player 6), will release their own codec, making Mozilla stop whining, and adopt a codec that both Chrome and hopefully Firefox would support. …but you think Apple would support it? The “only use Apple’s ad platform” kind of puts a kink in Google’s money making scenario for iPhone. You think Microsoft would use it? :: shrugs ::

    I’m with you; it’s inevitable these features will become ubiquitous enough on ALL browsers, and eventually they’ll work good enough that we can depend on them, like we do now with AJAX. …but that’s years, man… like 5+. I have a mortgage to pay tomorrow.

    Again, HTML5 for them is a beta; they USE Flash TODAY; in their ads, in their video, in their new subscription service, etc. I get they “use both”, but you and I both know that’s not how Jobs is pitching it, hence the point of this blog post.

    The fact that you have a computer at home that is 733mhz and you still use it makes you epic. I almost want to just stop right there since even an uber-g33k like me is hard pressed to compete with that.

    Not sure what you mean by #3.

    Regarding #4, haha, I wish! Not everyone provides a download link. Most of the progressive video I work with is H264, and assuming it’s around Baseline profile, you can just replace it with an Object tag, and you’re good to go. Sadly, that’s not the norm yet, and not everyone who put video on the web in Flash is quickly changing it to meet that criteria, let along has a plan to support iPhone/iPad. Thus, I disagree; I get a lot of blue lego’s where I’m eff’d. I’m not alone, and it sucks.

    Regarding #9, I’m not sure what you mean. I tested ActionScript 3 via Adobe’s iPhone packager.

    Regarding #13, that’s incorrect; Silverlight supports PC and Mac. While a lot of Flash/Flex developers love to hate it, it ran just fine on the 3 Macs I have, for both Olympics.

    Regarding #9, yes, it’s in 9.0.115, like I said, and works on PC, Mac, and Linux. Yes, it doesn’t work on iPhone, and was a deal killer for a lot of people, me included. We were UBER lucky to get recent hardware support for Mac’s, but no way in heck would Apple give us access for iPhone.

  21. @Mike Chambers: Your suggestion that text-editing XML is an “open” alternative to Adobe Flash Professional was nothing but facetious. Don’t get all coy now. A simple question was asked and you effectively spat down on the person asking it.

  22. Steve Jobs posts are correct. This article doesn’t further adobe’s case very much. Flash is very much the past.

  23. @Marcus You are obviously as uneducated about the Flash platform as Mr. Jobs is himself.

    Do a search for “Flash Develop” and you will find an excellent, FREE, Open Source Actionscript editor that when coupled with the FREE, Open Source Flex SDK (given away by Adobe), allows you to make Flash websites, games, apps, etc…. completely free. What can be more open with 1 companies proprietary technology?

    The main mistake people make, is simply they are uneducated about the topic, as clearly Steve Jobs is. Flash is no longer a simple IDE as it was a few years back, but it is now a robust Platform that many different (including some free as mentioned above) programs can compile out to (many of which are not even made by Adobe).

  24. “Additionally, I tested […] MouseEvent.ROLL_OVER, and [it] worked just fine on my iPhone.”

    Please tell me exactly how you tested rollover on your iPhone and I’ll believe you. There’s no such thing as rollover on touch interfaces.

  25. @Marcus

    Just for the record, the original question wasn’t a “simple question”. It was a baited question that is impossible to give a straight answer to – the .fla format is proprietary, and nobody here including Jesse was arguing that fact. Mike’s answer was about as docile and accurate as I can imagine possible…

  26. I just keep coming back to this quote from Jobs:

    “In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?”

    The Adobe/Flash crowd acts like they’ve already got a great player ready to go tomorrow, but without a good player all of this posturing is moot. I’m sure myself and lots more would shut up tomorrow if Adobe just show us their Flash plugin/player running on an iPhone and it performing well. Every demo I have seen has been plagued with poor performance.

    To be clear Jobs seems to be talking specifically here about a player/plugin and not native apps build from CS5, which is something else. Which similarly performance problems seem to plague there as well, no one has pointed me to a single CS5 built app that performs well and isn’t so ridiculously simple that any competent person couldn’t do it using the SDK in a couple of days.

  27. Just to add to the list of open tech related to Flash platforms:

    Specifications: SWF, FLV/F4V, RTMP (the non encrypted version) AMF, MCD.

    Source: Flex libraries, compiler, debugger, MXML, Tamarin (Actionscript virtual machine), TLF, OSMF, BlazeDS, FlexPMD, FlexUnit, Cairngorm, Actionscript libraries.

    See more at

  28. While I agree Apple is anal about it’s platform, there are points I have to disagree with in your post.

    > Macromedia/Adobe has adopted open source technologies into Flash Player

    Why does this matter? XML doesn’t benefit from this, Adobe does. I use HTTP for my web apps but that does not make me open.

    Offering the ActionScript runtime to FF is a move to entrench Flash deeper into browsers and improve performance of it’s own products. The motives are selfish not altruistic. Adobe Flash cannot and will not ever be open. If it goes open, Adobe risks shareholder lawsuits for business negligence. HTML5 is open.

    > HTML5 being adopted by Google

    To call that a lie is a lie. Have a look at the editor of the HTML5 spec: . Flash is used by Google as a means to an end. It’s not an endorsement and never will be.

    > YouTube converted a lot of their Spark (Flash 6/7) videos to H264 to support iPhone
    > […]
    > Lie #5: “…Flash has recently added support for H.264…”
    > Incorrect. It’s been there since August of 2007. That’s almost 3 years. That’s a long time in technology.

    Google should not have used Spark to begin with but then again, it was a means to an end and probably because Flash support for H264 came too little too late. That is why Google is converting from Spark to H264 now. And that is why Flash is relinquishing control of Spark, not willingly but because they were coerced into it. That’s the power of open standards and that’s why I love Google and their drive for open standards. In the longer term, the same push for HTML5 will force Adobe to relinquish more and more. So some time from now when Adobe concedes more ground, it will be due to selfish motives not altruistic ones.

    > Lie #6: “…must be run in software…”

    To call it a lie is a lie. Flash runs in software primarily and is non-native. And it is slow.

  29. @Jester Thanks for the air and sensible post.

    @marcus You sound very angry. Maybe get some fiber. I was impressed that someone from Adobe took the time to offer help here.

    I’ve been using FlashDevelop (a free, non-Adobe Flex IDE) to build Flash games and apps, using the Open Source Flex SDK for years now. I don’t have to pay anyone at Adobe to develop the apps, and I don’t have to get Adobe to review my apps before I can publish them. Seems pretty open to me.

    Anyway, the general feel I got from the original post was: Jobs was very misleading. And he was. Him calling out anyone for not being “open” is laughable at best.

  30. Open Flash spec doesn’t make difference in practice. There’s no interoperability.

    I can’t say “Adobe Flash sucks, I’ll install Gnash instead”. Where’s my MozFlash? Opera Flash? GFlash?

    If one of HTML5 vendors starts sucking like Adobe, others will eat his lunch.

    But Adobe has full control over Flash and no direct competition for Flash. They can only fail by killing Flash completely.

  31. Steve is 100% correct, flash SUCKS.

    Everytime I use it my quite decent laptop grinds to a freaking halt, 90%+ processor usage for the banal graphics, WTF?! Often it freaking overheats the comp which shuts down!

    And I am using the newest version of firefox and flash, all updated.

    Flash is one of the crapiest technologies out there. And although I’ve never used anything from apple I have to thank Steve for killing this bloated shit that flash is.

  32. @Mike Murdock
    “FLASH is NOT a productive piece of the computing experience. Having won an iPad and been using it since it arrived on April 3rd, I can tell you that I’ve not missed flash at all in the amount of hours I’ve been using it.”

    I’m just wondering, how’s your web site looks on your new iPad?

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