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Apple Can't Just Cast Adobe Aside

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(Techwriter10)
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Word came out this past weekend that Steve Jobs held a Town Meeting with his employees after the iPad party. Among the topics were Adobe and the Nexus One, which apparently both have Jobs more than a little riled. According to a Wired article, he had this to say about Adobe and Flash:

They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it.

Seriously, Steve?! I would say, Adobe has done all kinds of interesting things with Flash in spite of what Jobs may think. Yet it seems that many pundits feel with the advent of HTML 5 next year, it will mark the end of Flash era of domination. HTML 5 has the ability to generate streaming video (which is only part of the Flash experience) and Google has even demoed (according to this article) a version of YouTube using HTML 5 instead of Flash. It could very well be that HTML 5 could represent a sea change on the web, but I'm guessing that it will be a slow evolution. Flash is too enmeshed in the Web experience to just fall off the face of the earth.

Silverlight Didn't Do Squat

Microsoft's Silverlight was supposed to challenge Flash, but it really hasn't. You would think with all of the resources that Microsoft has put behind it, it would have made a dent in Flash's domination, but you have to remember how deeply entrenched Flash is. According to figures on Adobe.com, the Flash player is on one billion computers worldwide, representing 98.9 percent of the world's computers. Think about that for a minute, and try to think of any other piece of software that has that kind of presence. Hard to imagine, isn't it?

That's probably why Microsoft found it wasn't so easy to unseat Flash and why Adobe may be threatened, but it's probably not cowed by other challengers.

Adobe Isn't Going Away Easily

Adobe and Flash aren't simply going to disappear whenever HTML 5 happens to show up. How many people are using Dreamweaver, Photoshop , Illustrator, Acrobat or Captivate? Go on, raise your hands if you're using one of these tools. And guess what folks, Flash is a big part of this tool set. How many of you are using Flash to develop applications?

How about Adobe Air? How many of you are using an application developed on the Air platform? Let's face it, it's ubiquitous and Steve Jobs may be irritated with Adobe for whatever reason, but even with all his money, power and reputation had can't just make it disappear.

Adobe has a role here folks whether, Jobs wants it to or not. It may be true that Flash causes some issues, but it's not going away any time soon. Even if Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Steve Ballmer all wish it to be so. It's just too much a part of the web experience in 2010.

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joshdcohen
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Right now, Apple has a decent excuse not to support Flash on its mobile Internet devices like the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Flash 9.x and 10.0 have not been optimized for MIDs (see http://mobile.venturebeat.com/2010/01/26/flash-iphone-skyfire/ for an excellent article discussing this). The only MIDs I know of that support it are Nokia's N line of Internet tablets...including its new N900 smart phone...and the performance is lousy.

However, upcoming Flash 10.1 has been optimized for MIDs and soon will be found on Android, Blackberry, and WebOS smart phones. I wonder what excuse Apple will use then? Nonetheless, the reality is Apple wants iPad users to only buy their multi-media content from Apple. That's how it plans to make money and Flash is a threat to that.

However, for many the lack of Flash on the iPad is a deal breaker. Netbooks...including Hackitoshes...all adequately run Flash and for generally less money.

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Livebrush
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Keep in mind that the Flash Platform is a creative/interaction/development tool AND a delivery mechanism (swf/air). And I think this argument needs to be centered more around how these two paths are diverging. Maybe it's because I'm a designer, but I believe it's the capabilities of Flash authoring/developing that make it successful. The delivery mechanism is can be changed, Flash can export to new formats (and already does, iPhone). Flash authoring doesn't have to be limited to creating Flash Player content...

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studentx
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Adobe needs all the money it makes selling productivity apps to Mac user. Most creative types use Macs. What's Adobe gonna do if Apple doesn't support Flash? Cry, probably like babies.

HTML 5 is coming and 90% of what Flash is used for on the web is video and advertising and YouTube has shown how easily that is replaced with H264 for the iPhone. The other 10% of the content with be shit out of luck and easily replaced when HTML 5 rolls in.

With so many people buying Apple products these days content providers and advertisers will want to reach these users and they'll simply provide H264 streams for video and animated GIFs for advertising making that remaining 10% of Flash content left in the cold.

Flash is a OS in an OS. It will always be inefficient compared to direct coding. Adobe has also no done the work to make it efficient and secure, especially on the Mac. Until they fix it I see no reason to consider it. Plus, as a Runtime it creates all kinds of additional problems.

If 90% of what Flash does can be replaced with H264 video and animated GIF for advertising, what is everyone crying about? Who cares. Plus its better to go with an open standards in the long run and Adobe will cash in anyway by adding it into its development software.

What the hell you people defending?

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Techwriter10
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Studentx:
First of all, Adobe makes Mac and PC versions of most of its products. Second of all, 90 percent of Flash is not video. That's a common misconception. There are whole web sites built on Flash, and you probably don't even have a clue that it's Flash. Flash is much more than animation and video, it's a whole complex development platform. HTML 5 could at some point take away from Flash's dominance as a video streaming tool, but as I wrote, it's far too ubiquitous to think that it will simply kill that part of the Flash market. So many people use older browsers that don't run HTML 5 and so many will for years and years. Past behavior has proven this. I think you will find that rumors of Flash's demise will have been greatly exaggerated.

Thanks for your comment.

Ron

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Louis wheeler
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Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

How do you get content creators to provide HTML 5 or H264 versions of their web pages? It is by refusing to use obsolete, problematic, proprietary solutions like Flash. That is what Apple is doing: forcing the issue by pushing the leading edge.

HTML 5 is a solution for many of the problems on the web; it brings open standards to an unholy mess. If we want technical progress, we shouldn't be hanging onto obsolete software.

The people blaming Apple for not using Flash are the same ones who got upset at Apple for letting the Floppy disk go. Let Flash die. Five years from now, no one will miss it.

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Techwriter10
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Louis,
I'm not suggesting that I'm "blaming" Apple for anything. I'm simply making the observation that Adobe tools, and particularly Flash are too firmly entrenched in the web experience today to expect they will suddenly go away tomorrow when the new flavor of the month comes along (no matter how much better that flavor may or may not be).

For the record, I'm not sure Apple is even promoting HTML 5 (as much as their rival Google is). Dont' forget that Apple benefits when people use Apps from the App Store on the iPhone and iPad, which are themselves proprietary platforms. I'm not sure, that Apple wins should HTML 5 win (if win is even the right word). Jobs just seems annoyed with Adobe.

I think you underestimate the power of Flash and the slow pace of change. Just because the folks who tend to use DaniWeb tend to gravitate toward the cutting edge, most folks are using older machines, running older OSs and browsers and won't be able to run sites using HTML 5. That means having multiple versions of sites running across multiple browsers, creating a mass of confusion in the coming years.

HTML 5 may be better, but the best tools don't always win (and certainly not right away).

Thanks for for your comment.
Ron

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studentx
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Ron,

I know what Flash is. I have a Masters in Interactive Multimedia.

Point being all the average person knows about is Flash for video when their surfing the web. If they can get that through H264 then I doubt they'd care if Flash died or not. Plus, most of what Flash is actually used for on the web is easily replaced with technologies like AJAX.

I have a Flash blocker running everyday and I quickly realized how little I was missing. Content wise nothing much but video, but I did have some navigation problems that can easily solved with other technologies to be Flash free.

The only people wrapped up like a knot about Flash on the iPad or anything else, just want their video, which is easily accomplished with H264, or developers who are heavily invested in the platform. The first group matters, the second group needs to get with the program or get left behind like the floppy disk.

Thanks for your response.

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Louis wheeler
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I'm suggesting that everything eventually dies. It doesn't matter how prevalent something is, when it is time for it to go -- it should go. Dinosaurs ruled the world, but they passed away.

Flash was a beneficiary of the truly awful standards of HTML 3 and 4. What Apple is doing is to nudge content creators into providing both standards. Do you have something against competition? It bothers me not at all if Flash can compete against HTML 5. If Flash can serve its viewers well, then who loses?

What Apple is pointing out is that Flash is bad software which grabs computer cycles, RAM and is a major source of problems on Macs. If this is so, when we should want Flash to go. I, personally, have disabled Flash in Safari, because it was too distracting.

"... most folks are using older machines, running older OSs and browsers and won't be able to run sites using HTML 5. That means having multiple versions of sites running across multiple browsers, creating a mass of confusion in the coming years."

That is a bogus argument. Most of those older OS's and browsers are due to Microsoft Vista's failure in the market. It will take several years for people to migrate from Windows XP. Many of the problems on the web are from using old buggy software. Windows Internet Explorer 6 is one of the worse problem areas, so it needs to be marginalized.

"HTML 5 may be better, but the best tools don't always win (and certainly not right away)."

What slows things down? Who is dragging their feet? It's because there is a lack of competition. Let Flash and HTML 5 duke it out and see who wins. Let the web sites which choose to stay with old standards, like Flash, lose viewers.

Apple is not forcing anyone to avoid Flash; it is merely refusing to cooperate with it. Apple has enough marketing power to gently persuade content creators to provide both. How does the viewers lose in that?

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DavidAKnopf
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Flash is already in its twilight years. No, it's not going to vanish overnight, but it's going to be used less and less going forward. No, Apple clearly can't singlehandedly cast Flash aside, but Apple can ignore it on new devices without significantly hurting sales, and emerging standards can and will ensure that it plays a much smaller role in the future than it has in the past.

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Techwriter10
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David,
I've heard you sing the praises of Adobe Live Meeting as being a great tool. Well, that tool is built on top of the Flash platform. Adobe is doing lots of interesting things like that using Flash. That doesn't sound lazy to me as Jobs suggests does it? Have you seen some of the cool things they've done around Flash and online help to provide 3D drawings in a manual, for instance. I think it's extremely interesting and programs like this aren't going away.

Thanks for your comment.
Ron

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studentx
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Ron,

Adobe is doing lots of interesting things like that using Flash. That doesn't sound lazy to me as Jobs suggests does it?

Their lazy because they have a buggy, insecure, CPU hog of a platform on the Mac and mobile devices. That's what jobs is talking about. Ok, great, they are doing other stuff, fine, but they need to get the house in order before adding additions.

Now Flash is getting the 'dear John' treatment from Apple, what's its future?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/feb/02/flash-plugin-browser-apple-adobe

Although it's premature to write Flash off, I think that Gruber has it about right that we've seen the high water mark of its adoption. From here it's going to be downhill as more and more sites adopt HTML5 and H.264.

Michael Pinto things that this is the beginning of the end for Flash:

"Another use for Flash has always been to create multimedia interfaces for websites, however AJAX has started to really to really chip away at that market. Yes a microsite for a Hollywood film might still use Flash but my guess is that 80% of animated slideshows that you see out there are powered by AJAX scripts."

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Techwriter10
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StudentX:
Thanks for your great comments. You've given me a lot to think about and I appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas (and links) with me. Perhaps this is something I need to rethink.

Thanks to all who have pushed back and challenged my thinking.

Ron

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bbmmd4
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thank you !!

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bbmmd4
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StudentX:
Thanks for your great comments. You've given me a lot to think about and I appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas (and links) with me. Perhaps this is something I need to rethink.

Thanks to all who have pushed back and challenged my thinking.

Ron

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hokuwho
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Steven Jobs historically leads with his lips then waits for the sanity to catch up: http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/Apple.html

What was Steven thinking?

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