Jobs outlines Apple's position on Flash

Basically "we think it's crap".

Steve Jobs has written an open letter explaining why Apple's mobile products don't support Flash, and while he conceded that there are lots of Flash games out there that we're being denied on our iPhones and iPads, he said the App Store more than makes up for it.

"Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true," he wrote at one point. "Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free."

The letter set out the Apple CEO's "thoughts on Flash", citing six major objections to the ubiquitous Adobe platform. "By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system," Jobs began, which is bound to annoy software developers who have similar objections to Apple's platforms.

But Jobs had an answer to that. "Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open," he wrote. "Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript - all open standards."

Jobs also disputed Adobe's claim that denying users Flash access means they miss loads of video content. "iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren't missing much video," he said, talking up the mobile devices' YouTube implementation and listing off content providers.

He also said Flash was unreliable, not secure and a bit shonky in general. "We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash," he wrote. "We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash."

What's more, video playback through software-based Flash is too much of a drain on battery life compared to hardware decoders, Jobs argued, before adding that Flash is not suitable for multi-touch interfaces, having been designed for mouse pointers.

However, "the most important reason" for Apple's rejection of Flash is that Jobs doesn't want "a third-party layer of software [to] come between the platform and the developer" because it results in "sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform".

"We cannot be at the mercy of a third-party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers," he concluded.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen responded by telling the Wall Street Journal (thanks auntie) that Flash crashing Apple products was "to do with the Apple operating system".

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


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