There has been a great deal of discussion and debate lately regarding the position that Apple has taken with regard to Adobe Flash. Steve Jobs posted an article yesterday which clearly sets out the basis for Apple’s decision not to allow Flash on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
He listed the following six reasons as the basis for Apple’s position:
- “Full Web” :: Adobe’s claim that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash doesn’t consider that all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. For instance, YouTube has an estimated 40% of the web’s video, and it shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices. While Adobe’s claim that Apple devices cannot play Flash games ignores the fact that there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and that there are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.
- Reliability, Security and Performance :: Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. Flash is also the number one reason Macs crash, and these problems have persisted for several years despite Apple’s efforts to work with Adobe to fix them. Apple doesn’t want to reduce the reliability and security of its iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash. What’s more, Flash has not performed well on any mobile devices, regardless of manufacturer.
- Battery Life :: To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware, as decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264. While Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software, which can cut battery life by 50% or more. When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all.
- Independence :: Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices, but Apple believes 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. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. Apple does not want to be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make ots enhancements available to its developers.