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Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia » Why Flash is Not on The iPad

Joeflash’s Enigmacopaedia


Why Flash is Not on The iPad

Posted in News, Adobe, Flash Player, Mobile Flash, FP10, Flash Platform Community, Apple, iWhatever by Joeflash on the January 30th, 2010

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There is a polarizing debate going on between “iPad - Flash = Epic Fail”, and “Flash is dumb/crashes/obsolete/ads/porn/who cares,” bordering on the religious. Problem is, many of the cons against Flash are the same tired HTML fanboy arguments one hears, as if by trolling force alone millions of sites will go dark overnight. There’s only one reason why Flash is not on the iPad, or the iPhone for that matter.

It’s not 3G bandwidth. If Rogers or AT&T has oversold its network capacity and cannot deliver 1/10th of its advertised 7.2Mbps with a clear signal in a major urban environment, they deserve to be taken to court for false advertising. Even then, I am on a wireless connection at home, and during peak hours the connection can slow to dial-up speeds. When that happens, I click on FlashBlock, and only click to enable the Flash content I know I want to watch. So tell me one good reason why Apple could not disable all VM plugin content by default, and enable them by a click on the little blue lego. No, I can’t think of a reason either.

It’s not performance. As Lee Brimlow, Flash evangelist for Adobe comments, Adobe is willing to work with Apple on improving the performance of the Flash Player for this mobile device, as they have with every other major manufacturer. The fact of the matter is, Apple will not let Adobe play in their sandbox. And yes, I will concede, Flash could be better engineered to run on a Mac, as John Gruber claims — but that is besides the point, because we’re talking about a completely different product and OS here. As Peter Elst mentions, “With the iPad we’re talking about a different device, a processor that clearly is capable of high performance rendering”.

It might be about the fact that Flash will allow content that cannot be sold on the App Store, but that does not hold water either. App store revenues of millions a year do not threaten a billion dollar revenue base.

There is only one reason I can think of that makes any sense why Apple would do this.

Control.

The only possible conclusion is that Steve Jobs has become a megalomaniac who thinks he can shape the web to his whim, by excluding everything that Apple does not control. Microsoft did this and got taken down a peg for it, Google is in the process of getting away with it, and Apple is doing it with the iPhone.

It could also be that Steve is pissed that Flash crushed, p0wned and slaughtered Quicktime as the internet’s video standard, and now he’s getting revenge. Unfortunately for him, the statistics don’t look too good in his bid for world domination. But give it time.

And although Microsoft, Google and Apple may be poster children for monopolistic practices, the facts are that Adobe also has a long history of ignoring its user base when it feels justified doing so, as in the case of several critical Flash Player bugs like FP-444 which lay unattended to for close to three years, or the complete usability disaster that is Flash CS4, to name but a few. So although I am somewhat of an Adobe fanboy, their attitude is not without its warts.

But Apple is perhaps unique in the technology world, in that through seductive industrial design and lifestyle marketing (because it sure as hell isn’t their quality control), Apple has effectively managed to convince a significant proportion of its users that anything Apple is good, without question. It’s a technique very often used in politics, called Manufacturing Consent (to take a page from Chomsky): control what the people see and hear, control how the debate is shaped, and you can convince millions of people of pretty much anything you want. The people have shown time and again that governments can get too arrogant in their assumptions that the masses will buy their spin. As in the recent case of Canadian Prime Minister Harper proroguing parliament (shutting it down) for three months to avoid awkward questions into the torture of Afghan detainees , triggering a Facebook group 220,000 users strong, leading to nationwide protests last weekend, surprising every political pundit who had written off the internet as a viable vehicle for change in our society.

And Apple wants to control what you see and hear on this information vehicle, or at least how you see it.

Apple may have the masses eating cake with the iPhone, but my feeling is that this time they overstepped their assumption that their customer base will so easily buy their spin that the iPad is “the ultimate browsing experience.”

Because, quite frankly, it isn’t. Not by a mile.

No Flash on iPad = EPIC FAIL.

Whether you like Flash or not, beleive that it’s a monopolistic conspiracy by Adobe, or the greatest thing since slice cheeze, is completely besides the point.

Saying that Flash is on its way out, is crap because its a usability nightmare that can be easily replaced with HTML apps (yes we all want the web to look like http://www.useit.com), that accessibility is not that Flash’s strong point (true, but I don’t see a blind person having a use for BangBros HD), that Flash video is a resource hog (like Silverlight does it SO much better), or that HTML5, JavaFx or Silverlight will magically replace Flash in a few years (yeah, I so want to party like its 1999 with no install base), whether true or not, IS COMPLETELY BESIDES THE POINT.

And evoking all the tired, age-old bogeymen against Flash, whether it be Flash’s non-existent security holes, it’s tendancy for crashing browsers (like badly designed JS apps and AJAX script kiddies can’t crash a browser, or HTML5 apps are sooo much more processor-friendly), or those annoying rich banners which pull in millions in online revenue (like click-the-monkey ads cannot be done in HTML5), or that the Flash Player is closed (like you ever had a say in how a browser is engineered - i.e. a Plugin is not a language dumbass, and the SWF format is completely open), or the claim that it’s only for gambling and porn anyways (who the fuck doesn’t like gambling and porn,
you freak! : ), or Flash does not support multitouch (actually Flash 10.1 does) or it’s only good for grandmothers and their Farm Ville obsession, or the price or oranges in China, the phase of the moon and the position of the stars and planets,
IS.
ALL.
COMPLETELY.
BESIDES.
THE.
POINT.

(And to get in my 2c of irrelevancy — really, the HTML5 fanboys need to get a clue. Like seriously. This standard is ten years off from being finalized, is not fully supported by any major browser, and you cannot even come close to rivaling the most cutting edge Flash applications with this language. So don’t waste my time by trolling about it, you ain’t even gonna get past the comment login sucka. As one person on Lee’s blog comments, “[multi-browser testing] was hell, and it sucked, flash was a godsend when it came along, and with 99% install base it still is.” You HTML fanboys can all go waste your time testing shit in 6 different browsers and it not working right, while I’ll be developing apps that p0wn your ass.)

Even my strongly voiced opinions about HTML5 are besides the point.

Because the fact of the matter is, the major (front-end) technologies that make up the internet today are HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Flash. Take one away, and you have a crippled, stunted information delivery platform.

And my feeling is, that’s exactly the way Apple wants it.

The internet is the Matrix, and Steve Jobs is Agent Smith.

So let’s send a message to these arrogant bastards who see fit to control what we see and hear. Let’s form an open source movement to Hack Apple, and provide accessible, easy to install unlocks to iPhone and iPad and iWhatever that allow us to see whatever the hell we want to see on these devices, put ‘em up on every P2P network known, and watch as the self-affected empire of information monopoly crumbles around their smug asses. Hack The Planet! (Or at least iProducts).

Or, you could do like me and just not buy one.

Personally, I think the iPad packaging should be redesigned. And LEGO should sue Apple for trademark infringement.

Epilogue:

Of course, if I’m wrong about all of this, if that blue lego thing was just because they could not get the demo running with Flash, but will when it ships, well… I will profusely apologize in advance, and hope, and pray, that this entire post has been much ado about nothing.

I would personally love to get my hands on an iPad, but only if it has the Flash 10.1 plugin. Otherwise, to me, it’s just broken.

10 Responses to 'Why Flash is Not on The iPad'

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  1. Charles said,

    on January 30th, 2010 at 8:27 am


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    Great article. However, while multi-browser testing may not be needed with Flash, multi-OS testing has become a necessity. For the past 3 years, we have seen some of our projects function / appear differently whether viewed on a PC or a Mac, and even within various Mac OS versions.

    So, I am afraid that the develop-once argument is no longer valid. And this is a big mistake from Adobe’s part because it was a great selling point for Flash. Instead of rushing new versions of the player, Adobe should make sure some of the core attributes of the Flash player remain intact.

  2. Keeko said,

    on January 30th, 2010 at 3:28 pm


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    Great stuff, and well said. I agree with Charles about the cross-platform testing required for Flash content, but it’s night and day compared to other technologies and 99% of the time one or two known issues that can be avoided prior to development.

    Thanks for the colorful and entertaining post. Second only to Brimelow’s Bang Bro’s post ;)

  3. kaito said,

    on January 31st, 2010 at 1:58 pm


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    Totally enjoyed ur blog post Joe!
    Cant agree more!!

    As a full time flash developer I really felt upset over the weekend when suddenly everyone on the web, including some frens around me, started to criticize the performance of flash and thinks it is a good idea that ipad doesnt include it.

    Your blog post is so entertaining - the Lego part is the classic. Lol!!
    It really kept me lauhing!

    Lets hope together that Adobe can prove that flash just work well in all other devices in the open screen project…

  4. Tink said,

    on February 1st, 2010 at 5:04 am


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    “I would personally love to get my hands on an iPad, but only if it has the Flash 10.1 plugin.”

    I bewildered on why you would liove to get one even if it has Flash…

    - no multi-tasking
    - no camera
    - not able to install my own software
    - apple adapters required to plug anything external in
    - seperate data plan required
    - no HDMI output

    … there’s already better options out there, and were going to see much better products to come.

    “Apple has effectively managed to convince a significant proportion of its users that anything Apple is good,”

    It would seem to me that ever you have bought into the above statement a little.

  5. Joeflash said,

    on February 1st, 2010 at 5:09 am


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    Now that you put it that way (I was not aware of the exact specs), you’re right, I don’t want one. There are far superior tablet netbooks due for release later this year.

  6. Tink said,

    on February 1st, 2010 at 5:10 am


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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnT0zp8Ya4&feature=player_embedded

  7. Joeflash said,

    on February 1st, 2010 at 2:25 pm


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    Brilliant, LOL! Although, I would have sub’ed “No Multitasking” for “No Flash”.

  8. laurent said,

    on February 1st, 2010 at 7:00 pm


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    Great stuff. agree

  9. Ashish Tonse said,

    on February 4th, 2010 at 7:41 pm


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    Interestingly, some of the best opinions on this matter have come straight from Adobe. John Nack really put this whole debate to rest. Adobe is in the business of empowering content creators. If users want that content in “html5″ Adobe will make it easy in their content creation tools to export to html5.

    The biggest remaining advantage of Flash over HTML5/CSS3/JS/Canvas, is tooling. It’s much easier to create animations in a flash app than hand coding whatever.

    But John Nack mentioned that Adobe is already working on letting you export the contents of a flash file to html5/canvas instead of an SWF.

    Let’s not forget what’s important here. Content. We can get our nickers in a bind about the SWF format and the Flash Player, but the important thing is, as soon as Adobe allows Flash to be exported to HTML5/Canvas, and Youtube already supports native h.264 (and others are following), SWF will become less useful.

    SWF/Flash Player is just a means to an end. In this case, it’s the end that matters, not the means.

  10. Joeflash said,

    on February 5th, 2010 at 12:58 pm


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    @Ashish: Agree. To some extent, it’s about capability, the what, not the how.

    The problem I have is with claims that because Flash is not available on what is admittedly a marginal audience compared to the total number of internet-enabled devices (including desktops), that everyone is losing their minds trying to justify how HTML5 can, today, right now (if only it were widely available), replace Flash.

    I agree that eventually HTML5 may be a good candidate for replacing much of what the Flash Player does now. But Flash is not only about interactive animations and web video. You say it’s also about tooling. And in that I entirely agree.

    The tooling for ActionScript is becoming comparable to tooling that before was only available for hard core enterprise Java and C development. The languages and protocols upon which HTML5 and JavaScript are based cannot hope to parallel what I can do with a strongly typed, JIT-powered, OOP language with a variety of communications protocols that is simply not available to browsers without a dedicated runtime.

    Some of that capability may become available, through new web technologies, new browsers. And some of what HTML5 can theoretically do looks promising, as in the case of Google Wave.

    But Flash has this working, now, today, and it’s practically everywhere. Until HTML5 proves that it can do the same things, with the same kinds of tooling, for me it’ll remain a pie-in-the-sky specification, and certainly not a worthy contender for delivering the kinds of rich experiences currently offered by the Flash Player.

    Silverlight stands a much better chance of cutting into Flash’s market share than does HTML5. But I don’t hear anyone delusional enough to proclaim Silverlight as “the death of Flash.” ‘Splain me that, Lucy?

    Personally, if there’s any adoption of technology to improve the transparency of rich web experience, I would be for Adobe licensing Flash to be embedded into Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera, so ActionScript and MXML code runs natively in the browser, and we’re not hampered by a plugin architecture.

    #flashbrowserftw !!! :)

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