Thoughts on Thoughts on Flash
Steve Jobs’ recent blog post; Thoughts On Flash has been raising kudos and hackles all over the web. Many people have commented that Apple is the king of closed systems and they have a point, inside the Apple box itself.
But Jobs really is thinking outside that box here: he is making points about Flash as a data standard, and about its reliability, compactness, and hardware compatibility that everyone involved with producing for the web should know about. It is a closed data standard: you can’t make your own Flash encoders without paying a license fee to Adobe. Flash seems to be a big fat security hole. And anyone in computer support can tell you that the Flash crash isn’t confined to digital fruit.
If you think keeping up with Flash’s constant updates is a chore with one computer, try it on 500 computers where the users can’t run the upgrade on their system rights.
The point about battery life is enough all by itself. Flash must be decoded in software, where h.264 can be done in hardware. This is crucially important in mobile devices.
I’m sure Adobe will end up suing Apple over this. But I can’t think of a single Adobe product that I really like. Photoshop is a high-end image manipulation standard, but I often find it frustrating to use. If you’re thinking; “Acrobat is good!” try one of the competing .pdf rendering utilities, like Foxit.
In the Flash vs. Apple war, I’m siding with Apple. If you create web content, consider alternatives to Flash.
- Yes, Steve Jobs is arrogant. When you’ve revolutionized how the world uses computers and created a company with a market cap somewhat north of Microsoft’s (really!) it may be entirely warranted.
- I have actually seen computers brought to a standstill in the middle of a meeting because Adobe Acrobat decided that was a good time to update itself. Often this even requires a reboot – for a document reader! – and on more than one occasion I’ve seen that update skotch the machine, with a rebuild required.
- That image is a screenshot fragment from Linux, edited in Gimp.