Adobe (ADBE -7.9%) says it will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers, caving into criticism...


Adobe (ADBE -7.9%) says it will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers, caving into criticism that Flash is too unstable for smartphones and tablets. It's a defeat for Adobe vs. Apple (AAPL -1.9%) in their long-running battle since Steve Jobs refused to allow Flash on iPhones and iPads, and means that developers may stop using Flash tools to produce video, websites and applications for delivery over mobile browsers.

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Comments (15)
  • dividend_growth
    , contributor
    Comments (2895) | Send Message
     
    Flash is a POS. It's my browser's only cause of crash.
    9 Nov 2011, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • Neil459
    , contributor
    Comments (2636) | Send Message
     
    Guess Jobs was correct after all. A fine example of where marketing did not win out over reality.
    9 Nov 2011, 01:32 PM Reply Like
  • sean.parmelee
    , contributor
    Comments (791) | Send Message
     
    I have used Shockwave / Flash for over a decade, including several years on smartphones, and have never, ever, not once, had Flash crash. Seriously. Not in tens of thousands of times using it on a computer, or hundreds of times on a smartphone. This "Flash is unstable" line is absolute BS. When I had an iPhone, it crashed multiple times a week in the middle of routine tasks, all on its own, no Flash necessary. Steve Jobs was a control freak and had no good reason to keep it off the iPhone except some petty personal vendetta the rest of us will never understand. The fact that so many fanboys go around parroting Jobs' line as if it were the gospel really grinds my gears.
    10 Nov 2011, 02:19 AM Reply Like
  • brewer
    , contributor
    Comments (3035) | Send Message
     
    Technically, it was much more likely to 'hang' or 'freeze' rather than actually 'crashing'.

     

    But it's dead now. Even on the desktop, you probably won't see much longer.
    10 Nov 2011, 08:14 AM Reply Like
  • sscutchen
    , contributor
    Comments (248) | Send Message
     
    Defeat is the wrong word. It is an acknowledgement. Apple was not competing against Flash. (Microsoft is; Silverlight is a competitor...) Apple was just not using it. And they had reasons. Apple didn’t make its own proprietary plugin that they used instead of Flash.

     

    But haters gonna hate, eh Sean?

     

    If you want the facts about what Apple and Jobs had to say about Flash, go to the instant replay rather than read the biased rants and anti-Apple fanboys:

     

    http://bit.ly/syLf0A/

     

    In part:
    "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. "

     

    "To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power."

     

    "Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover."

     

    I could go on, but read it yourself...
    10 Nov 2011, 09:25 AM Reply Like
  • sean.parmelee
    , contributor
    Comments (791) | Send Message
     
    sscutchen,

     

    I am not a "hater" or an "anti-Apple fanboy." I have owned Apple products and traded AAPL stock. The fact that you react so fervently to any negative commentary about the company tells me that you are the one who will not challenge his preconceptions.

     

    My intent was merely to point out the fact that I have used Flash extensively, across multiple platforms, and have never experienced the problems Jobs and his supporters describe. That's not a preconception, it's my factual experience. I am using that experience to challenge the view that iOS is a perfect, bug-free environment and that Flash is the cause of all the mobile world's problems. That kind of hyberbolic attitude is exactly what I hear, all the time, from the fanboys.

     

    Jobs would like to see Flash performing well on a mobile device? It works just fine on Android. The issue of touchpad versus mouse is an important one moving forward, but it really has nothing to do with Flash not "performing well." It's performing exactly as it was intended to. The real question is, what is Apple's solution to this problem, besides to pretend that multimedia content is not worth displaying?
    10 Nov 2011, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • sscutchen
    , contributor
    Comments (248) | Send Message
     
    Your post is certainly strident for a non hater:

     

    "Steve Jobs was a control freak and had no good reason to keep it off the iPhone except some petty personal vendetta the rest of us will never understand. The fact that so many fanboys go around parroting Jobs' line as if it were the gospel really grinds my gears."

     

    Back in the '90s I was indeed a fan boy because I was scared that Apple would fail, and thus we'd all be left to the non-innovation of Microsoft. But I don't try to convince folks anymore. If I was the one making emotional misstatements, then I would indeed deserve the fan boy moniker. But it is your statements that describe Apple and Jobs' position as petty, personal and not understandable. What I DID do in your case was to counter your strident misrepresentation with facts by simply linking to the original information from Apple and Jobs. Facts and direct quotes are hardly the tools of fan boys.
    10 Nov 2011, 02:07 PM Reply Like
  • sean.parmelee
    , contributor
    Comments (791) | Send Message
     
    sscutchen,

     

    I appreciate your thoughtful responses. And I'll give you that my first post was strident, as you put it, but on balance, you've yet to respond to the substance of my argument. That being, I have never experienced any of these supposedly intractable problems, and hence, fail to see how Jobs' statement has any truth to it. I read it when it came out, what, a year or two ago? From my perspective, the facts, of which you claim to be so fond, are not his side at all. Why? Because he presents no facts. He simply presents six personal complaints that others may or may not agree with. This is why I call it a personal vendetta that only Jobs understands.

     

    The "openness" issue is absurd on its face. Even Jobs admits that Apple is about as anti-open as a software developer can be--"do as I say, not as I do." No factual basis, just a really lame attempt to moralize what is, clearly, a business decision.

     

    Jobs offers no response to the content availability issue. Mac OS and iOS have always had a poor selection of content available for them. His response is that Apple users should be happy with the games that App Store censors allow through. Whether it's the lack of copy/paste or picture messaging, or the antenna problem on the 4, or the lack of Flash game availability, Apple's attitude is clear: Apple will determine what is a problem and what is not, and if you disagree, you are wrong.

     

    The third is my favorite point. Jobs claims that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. That's very revealing, because as I stated in my original post, in ten plus years of using Flash on Windows machines, I have never experienced a single Flash-related crash. Either this is a Mac OS problem, or Adobe simply doesn't see the point of wasting resources re-engineering its software for Apple's very small sliver of the computer market.

     

    His fourth point is fair but not in and of itself a reason to keep Flash out. The fifth is irrelevant because Jobs has no alternative, and the sixth is just a rehash of the first point: Apple hates letting third parties in, and that's fine by me, but it says absolutely nothing about the quality of any particular third party application.

     

    Steve Jobs was a well-known control freak. In some ways, it worked out very well for Apple, because his dedication to seeing his ideas carried out exactly as he imagined them was what made Apple's products so special. But Jobs was a man just like everyone else, and he had his flaws. All of his stubborn attitudes also became Apple policy, because it was his way or the highway. In the end, it really doesn't matter what the facts are, because as long as Jobs didn't like Flash, Apple products would not support Flash. It's as simple as that, and that was my original point.
    10 Nov 2011, 03:00 PM Reply Like
  • sscutchen
    , contributor
    Comments (248) | Send Message
     
    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to the original Apple post.

     

    Apple's ecosystem design is certainly very different than what Google has put forth for Android. But I'll offer that Android is not open either whenever Google sees an incentive. Android is not a product for Google, it is bait for eyeballs in the same way that free search and Gmail, et. al. are. Google's customers are not us, they are folks that buy advertising. Ask Google to be open with their map data/programs or their search. Newp. So it is simply a matter of business model. Apple sells devices. They control and subsidize what is available on those devices to make them most appealing and to enhance their market share. A different model based on a different business incentive.

     

    If Apple were to allow Flash in its current incarnation to run on their devices, then there would be incentive for developers to port generically programmed software designed for the least capable devices to iOS devices. Apple wants their developers to make maximum use of the capabilities of iOS devices, because this is how they differentiate themselves with consumers of devices. They want developers to make use of iOS 5 by updating their existing programs; to make use of iPhone 4s features to provide incentive for buys to buy one. Imagine if every Ferrari had to come with 13 inch Wal-Mart-brand tires.

     

    Apple would describe Flash as a closed system. If you program in Flash, it has to be at the behest of Adobe and their systems and processes. It is not open like an open standard is open. Those that suggest Flash is open are confusing ubiquity with openness.

     

    Now, on the whole crashing thing... When you say "I have never experienced any of these supposedly intractable problems, and hence, fail to see how Jobs' statement has any truth to it." you need to realize that the plural of anecdote is not data. Maybe on your phone, running what you were looking at, Flash worked to your expectations. Fine. Everyone has their own standards of expectations. I've seen Windows computers slow down to a crawl because some Flash-heavy web site is running in a browser and over time it just takes more and more resources. I've had to kill the browser on PCs because it is unresponsive and chewing up all my CPU. Even so, these are anecdotes as well. I would suggest to you that if Adobe thought that Apple's claims were baseless, even on Android OS, it would have been simple enough to get their PR staff out there running comparison tests for the TechCrunches and GigaOhms of the world that live for PR fodder to drive page views; especially anything that casts aspersions on Apple. Instead, Adobe is abandoning ship.

     

    Finally, with respect to the impact on poor iOS users to have all of those Flash sites as unavailable... iOS represents the vast, vast majority of handheld device web and internet traffic. If the limitations were that great, there would be a hew and cry from the mountaintops from iOS users. But there isn't. Two reasons, 1) a lot of sites use non-Flash alternatives when iOS devices hit, and 2) a lot of folks are approaching their handheld customers via apps rather than complex web pages because there is so much more design functionality available.
    10 Nov 2011, 03:37 PM Reply Like
  • sean.parmelee
    , contributor
    Comments (791) | Send Message
     
    sscutchen,

     

    It sounds like we--you, I, and Adobe--are in agreement that Apple's decision is a "business" decision, to keep Adobe out. Clearly maintaining a closed system is Apple's business model--and more power to them for it. I'd just prefer that they be honest and say so. Google has no illusions about their business model. Google gives people free things solely to drive advertising revenue, as you yourself point out. All businesses do these things. Why Apple feels the need to claim the moral high ground is beyond me.

     

    I must take issue with your statement, however, that "iOS represents the vast, vast majority of handheld device web and internet traffic." Not true by a mile.

     

    http://bit.ly/u5KTYh

     

    Yes, you might counter that the iPad dominates the tablet space (for now), but tablets are not nearly as popular as smart phones. And expect AMZN to shake up the tablet market in the coming months.
    10 Nov 2011, 11:37 PM Reply Like
  • sscutchen
    , contributor
    Comments (248) | Send Message
     
    You're confusing device market share with user traffic share. iOS has basically a 60% share, three times Android's share.

     

    http://bit.ly/u4mbGt/

     

    My point is that this domination of actual usage on line would not happen if iOS users were truly thwarted by lack of Flash.

     

    On closed versus open, Android is not open either. Ask the folks at Skyhook. They had a deal to put their mapping system on the Droid X and Android disallowed it.

     

    http://bit.ly/sALw5V/

     

    Apple has addressed this. Their contention is that allowing any developer to write anything application-wise and OS API-wise leads to a fragmented ecosystem where they cannot assure that updates and capabilities are available to their customers. Here's how Jobs put it on an earnings conference call:

     

    "In reality, we think open versus closed is a smokescreen to hide the real issue," Jobs continued, stating that the real debate is between "fragmented versus integrated" and which is better for the consumer. "We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day," Jobs said. "We think this is a huge strength of our approach compared to Google's... When selling to users who want their devices to just work, we believe integrated will trump fragmented every time."

     

    I think the business case there is pretty clear. It's not a moral argument. And it doesn't mean that Google's approach is not also a valid model, it's just not the model that supports Apple's goals of selling devices.
    11 Nov 2011, 09:35 AM Reply Like
  • sscutchen
    , contributor
    Comments (248) | Send Message
     
    http://bit.ly/sZHZLc
    11 Nov 2011, 10:45 AM Reply Like
  • InvestorCP
    , contributor
    Comments (154) | Send Message
     
    I was very surprised when I saw this - I have been wondering for a while if Adobe was going to really turn it into a full fledged virtual machine. Closer to JVM capabilities than a rich content media player, which is what I think its best classified as.

     

    Obviously the answer is no - the slow adoption of 64-bit browser integration was probably the best hint. The move to a full blown virtual machine would have been a major overhaul, but I think it would have been their best platform for the mobile device market.
    10 Nov 2011, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • jvherrity
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    I was confused by sean's comments - I thought the decision to no longer develop flash was adobe's unilateral decision.
    13 Nov 2011, 08:47 AM Reply Like
  • sean.parmelee
    , contributor
    Comments (791) | Send Message
     
    It is Adobe's decision. When I said "Apple's decision" I was talking about Apple's decision years ago to keep Flash out of their "ecosystem."
    13 Nov 2011, 04:58 PM Reply Like
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