Steve Jobs Posts 'Thoughts on Flash' Open Letter

121055 apple logo

Apple CEO Steve Jobs today posted a lengthy open letter offering his "Thoughts on Flash" in an attempt to clear up some of the controversy over Apple's relationship with Adobe and its unwillingness to incorporate Flash capabilities into its iPhone OS devices.

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe's Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven - they say we want to protect our App Store - but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

Jobs then proceeds to lay out six aspects to Apple's argument against the use of Flash:

- Openness: Flash is a proprietary product, making it a closed system. While Apple also offers proprietary products, it believes that all web standards should be open. Jobs points to Apple's support of open standards such HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, as well as its own contributions to open source projects such as WebKit.

- "The Full Web": One of Adobe's arguments is that a lack of Flash compatibility prevents Apple mobile devices from accessing "the full web" because 75% of video in that format. Jobs counters that almost all of this video is available in the more modern H.264 format and viewable on iPhone OS devices. He also points to the YouTube application and a list of other sources all offering video in iPhone-compatible formats. With respect to Flash-based games, Jobs concedes that the iPhone is unable to play them, but notes that there are over 50,000 game and entertainment titles on the App Store, many of which are free.

- Reliability, Security, and Performance: Jobs points to a Symantec study showing Flash having one of the worst security records last year and notes that Flash is the #1 reason Macs crash. While Apple has been working with Adobe to address these issues, the problems remain. Jobs also claims that Apple has yet to see Flash performing well on any mobile device, something it has repeatedly asked Adobe to demonstrate.

- Battery Life: Long battery life essentially requires hardware decoding of formats such as H.264, but most Flash website continue to use older decoders that must run in software, crippling battery life for mobile devices.

- Touch: Interactive Flash content is mouse-driven and not easily compatible with Apple's touch-driven iPhone OS. Jobs argues that developers who need to rewrite their Flash websites to support touch anyway should look to more modern technologies like those supported by Apple.

- Flash as a Third-Party Development Tool: Jobs outlines Apple's arguments against allowing developers to create iPhone applications using Flash or other third-party development tools, citing sub-standard performance and a reliance on those third parties to adopt changes and improvements. Apple wants developers building directly on iPhone OS for the best experience possible.

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. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins - we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.

Jobs concludes by noting that Flash was developed during the era of PCs and mice, but today's low-power, touch-based mobile devices require new standards and technologies.

Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

Top Rated Comments

JediZenMaster Avatar
140 months ago
Well said steve. Flash is garbage if your on a mobile device and it's barely usable on a MBP. hTML5 All the way!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iOrlando Avatar
140 months ago
that is big.

its the death strike.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lssmit02 Avatar
140 months ago
As Jobs points out, Adobe has been deficient in bringing its products up to date on the OS X platform. If that's how Adobe treats its Mac products, imagine how bad it will be with iPhone OS.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JediZenMaster Avatar
140 months ago
Well put steve! He makes some great points :D It's going to be funny seeing the apple-haters blood pressure rise after they get wind of that letter
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lone Deranger Avatar
140 months ago

Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.


Wow... them be fightin' words! :D
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
pat gelsinger intel

Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company's Inability to 'Deliver Better Products' Than Apple's M1 Chip

Friday January 15, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that the company must "deliver better products" than Apple, which he described as a "lifestyle company," and says that Intel's best days are "in front of it" (via The Oregonian). Speaking at an Intel all-hands meeting yesterday, Gelsinger derisively implied that Apple is merely a "lifestyle company," so Intel must be able to surpass its technology: ...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
macbook pro 16 inch thunderbolt

Bloomberg: Next-Generation MacBook Pro to Offer Improved Displays, Faster Charging Over MagSafe

Thursday January 14, 2021 11:36 pm PST by
Following today's report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlining major changes for the next-generation MacBook Pro models coming in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has weighed in with his own report corroborating some of the details but seemingly differing a bit on others. First, Gurman shares more details on the return of MagSafe charging to the MacBook Pro, indicating...