Thoughts on Flash

Last updated

"Thoughts on Flash" is an open letter published by Steve Jobs, co-founder and then-chief executive officer of Apple Inc., on April 29, 2010. The letter criticizes Adobe Systems' Flash platform and outlines reasons why the technology would not be allowed on Apple's iOS hardware products. The letter drew accusations of falsehood, hypocrisy, and ulterior motive. In retrospect many publications came to agree with Jobs.

Contents

Letter

On April 29, 2010, Steve Jobs, the co-founder and then-chief executive officer of Apple Inc., published an open letter called "Thoughts on Flash" explaining why Apple would not allow Flash on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. He cited the rapid energy consumption, computer crashes, poor performance on mobile devices, abysmal security, lack of touch support, and desire to avoid "a third party layer of software coming between the platform and the developer". He touched on the idea of Flash being "open", claiming "by almost any definition, Flash is a closed system". Jobs dismissed the idea that Apple customers are missing out by being sold devices without Flash compatibility by quoting a number of statistics, concluding with "Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content." [1] [2] [3]

Response

The letter drew immediate attention. In response to Jobs' accusations, Adobe's CEO Shantanu Narayen described the open letter as an "extraordinary attack", and, during an interview with The Wall Street Journal , called the problems mentioned by Jobs' "really a smokescreen". He further fired back at Apple, stating that computer crashes were due to Apple's operating system, and that allegations of battery drain were "patently false". [4] [5] Various publications had different opinions on the topic. Wired 's Brian Chen had in a 2009 article claimed Apple would not allow Flash on the iPhone for business reasons, due to the technology being able to divert users away from the App Store. [6] John Sullivan of Ars Technica agreed with Jobs, but highlighted the hypocrisy in his reasoning, writing: "every criticism he makes of Adobe's proprietary approach applies equally to Apple". [7] Dan Rayburn of Business Insider accused Steve Jobs of lying, particularly the sentiment that most content on the Internet is available in a different format. [8]

Retrospectively, more publications have agreed with Jobs. Ryan Lawler of TechCrunch wrote in 2012 "Jobs was right", adding Android users had poor experiences with watching Flash content and interactive Flash experiences were "often wonky or didn't perform well, even on high-powered phones". [9] Mike Isaac of Wired wrote in 2011 that "In [our] testing of multiple Flash-compatible devices, choppiness and browser crashes were common", and a former Adobe employee stated "Flash is a resource hog [...] It's a battery drain, and it's unreliable on mobile web browsers". [10] Kyle Wagner of Gizmodo wrote in 2011 that "Adobe was never really able to smooth over performance, battery, and security issues". [11]

iOS development

In April 2010, Apple announced changes to its iPhone Developer Agreement, with details on new developer restrictions, particularly that only apps built using "approved" programming languages would be allowed on the App Store. The change impacted a number of companies that had developed tools for porting applications from their respective languages into native iPhone apps, with the most prominent example being Adobe's "Packager for iPhone", an iOS development tool in beta at the time. [12] [13] [14] The New York Times quoted an Adobe supporter alleging the policy to be anti-competitive. [15]

On May 3, 2010, New York Post reported that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) were deciding which agency would launch an antitrust investigation into the matter. [16] [17]

In September 2010, after having "listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart", Apple removed the restrictions on third-party tools, languages and frameworks, and again allowing the deployment of Flash applications on iOS using Adobe's iOS Packager. [18] [19]

On November 8, 2011, Adobe announced that it was ceasing development of the Flash Player plug-in for web browsers on mobile devices, and shifting its focus toward building tools to develop applications for mobile app stores. [20] [21] [22]

In 2021, former Apple head of software engineering Scott Forstall said in a taped deposition in the Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit that Adobe had once tried to work on a Flash version for iPhone and iPad and that Apple had helped with these efforts. However, the port was deemed "abysmal and embarrassing" by Apple due to performance issues and subsequently blocked its release. [23]

Flash globally ending by 2020

In July 2017, Adobe announced its intention to discontinue Flash (including security updates) altogether by the year 2020. [24] [25] As of December 31, 2020, Flash support has ended. Adobe blocked Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich web applications, desktop applications, mobile apps, mobile games, and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics, and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera input.

iTunes Apples media library and media player software

iTunes is a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster, mobile device management utility, and the client app for the iTunes Store, developed by Apple Inc. It is used to purchase, play, download, and organize digital multimedia, on personal computers running the macOS and Windows operating systems, and can be used to rip songs from CDs, as well as play content with the use of dynamic, smart playlists. Options for sound optimizations exist, as well as ways to wirelessly share the iTunes library.

Android (operating system) Mobile operating system

Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open source software, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android is developed by a consortium of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance and commercially sponsored by Google. It was unveiled in November 2007, with the first commercial Android device, the HTC Dream, being launched in September 2008.

iOS Mobile operating system by Apple

iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that powers many of the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPod Touch; the term also included the versions running on iPads until the name iPadOS was introduced with version 13 in 2019. It is the world's second-most widely installed mobile operating system, after Android. It is the basis for three other operating systems made by Apple: iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS. It is proprietary software, although some parts of it are open source under the Apple Public Source License and other licenses.

iOS SDK Software development kit for iOS

The iOS SDK, formerly the iPhone SDK, is a software development kit (SDK) developed by Apple Inc. The kit allows for the development of mobile apps on Apple's iOS and iPadOS operating systems.

The App Store is an app store platform, developed and maintained by Apple Inc., for mobile apps on its iOS and iPadOS operating systems. The store allows users to browse and download approved apps developed within Apple's iOS Software Development Kit. Apps can be downloaded on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or the iPad, and some can be transferred to the Apple Watch smartwatch or 4th-generation or newer Apple TVs as extensions of iPhone apps.

Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by the American company Dropbox, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, US that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi as a startup company, with initial funding from seed accelerator Y Combinator.

Criticism of Apple Inc. Overview of the criticism of Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. is a multinational American technology company which sells consumer electronics that have been claimed by critics to combine stolen and/or purchased designs that it claims are its own original creations. Criticism of Apple includes allegations of unethical business practices such as anti-competitive behavior, rash litigation, dubious tax tactics, the use of sweatshop labor, misleading warranties and insufficient data security, and concerns about environmental destruction. Additionally, it has been criticized for its alleged collaboration with U.S. surveillance program PRISM.

iPad Line of tablet computers by Apple

iPad is a line of tablet computers designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc., which run the iOS and iPadOS mobile operating systems. The first iPad was released on April 3, 2010; the most recent iPad models are the ninth-generation iPad, released on September 24, 2021; the sixth-generation iPad mini, released on September 24th, 2021; the fourth-generation iPad Air, released on October 23, 2020; and the third-generation 11-inch (280 mm) and fifth-generation 12.9-inch (330 mm) iPad Pro, released on May 21, 2021.

Siri Software based personal assistant from Apple Inc.

Siri is a virtual assistant that is part of Apple Inc.'s iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, tvOS, and audioOS operating systems. It uses voice queries, gesture based control, focus-tracking and a natural-language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Internet services. With continued use, it adapts to users' individual language usages, searches and preferences, returning individualized results.

Solar2D

Solar2D is a free and open-source, cross-platform software development kit originally developed by Corona Labs Inc. and now maintained by Vlad Shcherban. Released in late 2009, it allows software programmers to build 2D mobile applications for iOS, Android, and Kindle, desktop applications for Windows, Linux and macOS, and connected TV applications for Apple TV, Fire TV and Android TV.

iOS 4 Fourth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 4 is the fourth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iPhone OS 3. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 7, 2010, and was released on June 21, 2010. iOS 4 is the first iOS version issued under the "iOS" rebranding, dropping the "iPhone OS" naming convention of previous versions. It was succeeded by iOS 5 on October 12, 2011.

iPhone (1st generation) 2007 smartphone by Apple

The iPhone is the first smartphone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. After years of rumors and speculation, it was officially announced on January 9, 2007, and was released in the United States on June 29, 2007.

iOS 5 Fifth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 5 is the fifth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 4. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6, 2011, and was released on October 12, 2011. It was succeeded by iOS 6 on September 19, 2012.

Google Play Digital distribution service by Google

Google Play, also branded as the Google Play Store and formerly Android Market, is a digital distribution service operated and developed by Google. It serves as the official app store for certified devices running on the Android operating system and its derivatives as well as Chrome OS, allowing users to browse and download applications developed with the Android software development kit (SDK) and published through Google. Google Play also serves as a digital media store, offering music, books, movies, and television programs. Content that has been purchased on Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Books can be accessed on a web browser, and through the Android and iOS apps.

iPad (1st generation) Tablet computer made by Apple (2010–2011)

The first-generation iPad is a tablet computer designed and marketed by Apple Inc. as the first device in the iPad lineup of tablet computers. The device features an Apple A4 SoC, a 9.7" touchscreen display, and, on certain variants, the capability of accessing cellular networks. Using the iOS operating system, the iPad can play music, send and receive email and browse the web. Other functions, which include the ability to play games and access references, GPS navigation software and social network services can be enabled by downloading apps.

iOS 7 Seventh major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 7 is the seventh major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 6. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, 2013, and was released on September 18 of that year. It was succeeded by iOS 8 on September 17, 2014.

iOS 8 Eighth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 8 is the eighth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 7. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 2, 2014, and was released on September 17, 2014. It was succeeded by iOS 9 on September 16, 2015.

iOS 10 Tenth major release of iOS, the mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc.

iOS 10 is the tenth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple Inc., being the successor to iOS 9. It was announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 13, 2016, and was released on September 13, that year. It was succeeded by iOS 11 on September 19, 2017.

Files (Apple) Mobile file management application developed by Apple

Files is a file management app developed by Apple Inc. for devices that run iOS 11 and later releases of iOS and devices that run iPadOS. Discovered as a placeholder title in the App Store just prior to the company's 2017, Worldwide Developers Conference, the app was officially announced at the conference shortly thereafter. Files allows users to browse local files stored within apps, as well as files stored in cloud storage services, including iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. It allows for the saving, opening and organization of files, including placement into structured folders and sub-folders. iPads are able to drag-and-drop files between Files and other apps, while iPhone users are limited to drag-and-drop inside Files itself. Further organization can be done through the use of color-coded or custom-named tags, and a persistent search bar allows for finding files inside folders, though not inside other apps. A list view enables different sorting options. The app offers the exclusive playback of high-quality FLAC audio files, and also offers support for viewing text files, images, "Music Memos", and Zip archives, as well as limited support for video.

References

  1. Jobs, Steve (April 29, 2010). "Thoughts on Flash". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on June 15, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  2. Slivka, Eric (April 29, 2010). "Steve Jobs Posts 'Thoughts on Flash' Open Letter". MacRumors . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  3. Luoma, TJ (April 29, 2010). "Apple posts thoughts on Flash". Engadget . AOL . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  4. Valentino-Devries, Jennifer (April 29, 2010). "Highlights: The Journal's Exclusive Interview With Adobe CEO". The Wall Street Journal . Dow Jones & Company . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  5. Arthur, Charles (April 29, 2010). "Adobe CEO hits back in row with Steve Jobs over Flash on Apple's iPhone". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  6. Chen, Brian X. (November 17, 2009). "Why Apple won't allow Adobe Flash on iPhone". Wired . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  7. Sullivan, John (April 30, 2010). "Pot, meet kettle: a response to Steve Jobs' letter on Flash". Ars Technica . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  8. Rayburn, Dan (April 29, 2010). "Steve Jobs Is Lying About Flash". Business Insider . Axel Springer SE . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  9. Lawler, Ryan (June 30, 2012). "Steve Would Be Proud: How Apple Won The War Against Flash". TechCrunch . AOL . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  10. Isaac, Mike (November 9, 2011). "Adobe Had It Coming: The Long, Slow Goodbye of Mobile Flash". Wired . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  11. Wagner, Kyle (November 9, 2011). "Report: Adobe Is Finally Pulling the Plug on Mobile Flash (Updated)". Gizmodo . Univision Communications . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  12. Chen, Brian X. (April 8, 2010). "Adobe Apps: Easier to Pass Through the 'i' of a Needle?". Wired . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  13. Gruber, John (April 8, 2010). "New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of Adobe's Flash-to-iPhone Compiler". Daring Fireball. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  14. Kincaid, Jason (April 8, 2010). "Apple Gives Adobe The Finger With Its New iPhone SDK Agreement". TechCrunch . AOL . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  15. Wortham, Jenna (April 12, 2010). "Apple Places New Limits on App Developers". The New York Times . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  16. Kosman, Josh (May 3, 2010). "An antitrust app". New York Post . News Corp . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  17. Cheng, Jacqui (May 3, 2010). "Apple iPhone OS compiler policy may lead to antitrust probe". Ars Technica . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  18. Arthur, Charles (September 9, 2010). "Apple opens App Store to programs written in Adobe Flash – and more". The Guardian . Guardian Media Group . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  19. Sorrel, Charlie (September 9, 2010). "Apple eases app development rules, Adobe surges". Wired . Condé Nast . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  20. Golson, Jordan (November 8, 2011). "Adobe Discontinues Development of Flash Player on Mobile Devices". MacRumors . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  21. Shankland, Stephen (November 8, 2011). "Adobe abandons Flash plug-in for mobile devices: report". CNET . CBS Interactive . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  22. Siegler, MG (November 8, 2011). "Steve's Last Laugh: Adobe Killing Off Flash For Mobile Devices". TechCrunch . AOL . Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  23. Espósito, Filipe (2021-04-28). "Apple tried to help Adobe bring Flash to iOS, but the results were 'embarrassing'". 9to5Mac. Retrieved 2021-09-03. We did not ship Flash. We tried to make Flash work. We helped Adobe. We definitely were interested. Again, this is one where I thought if we could help make it work, this could be great. Flash has been such a problem because the way that it hooks into systems, it’s been a virus nightmare on Windows, even on the Mac. And when we got it running on iOS, the performance was just abysmal and embarrassing and it could never get to something which would be consumer value add.
  24. Warren, Tom (July 25, 2017). "Adobe will finally kill Flash in 2020". The Verge . Vox Media . Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  25. Barrett, Brian (July 25, 2017). "Adobe finally kills Flash dead". Wired . Condé Nast . Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  26. "Adobe Flash Player EOL General Information Page" . Retrieved March 15, 2021.