Jobs Has Spoken


Most likely you’ve heard by now about Steve Job’s open letter about why their mobile devices do not support Flash, and why they don’t intend on changing that. Everyone and their mother has an opinion about it, but I still couldn’t resist posting a few quick thoughts I had while reading it.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

I generally really like Apple products. They really know how to polish up a beautiful user experience, probably better than any other company I know of. So while I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fanboi, I will say that I drool heavily over most of their devices. Yet despite my generally positive view towards Apple, even I have to admit I found it funny when Jobs was calling out Flash for being “100% proprietary”. It’s true of course, but Apple has little room to talk.

What made the point even funnier was how he said in one paragraph that Apple believes “that all standards pertaining to the web should be open”, and two paragraphs later, talks about Apple’s support for the H.264 format, a proprietary codec they chose to support over the open OGG.

In General, He’s Right

For the most part, I agree with him. Flash isn’t as essential as Adobe would like you to believe. Many very, very big names have gotten on board with supporting HTML5 video which contradicts Adobe’s claim that users of Apple mobile devices will go without video. Furthermore, the fact that Apple’s mobile devices use WebKit means that there are some very cool HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript features that developers can make use of to make their mobile web applications run smoothly while providing a high level of interactivity that used to be only possible via Flash.

Honestly — I think Flash is a tool that, while very useful for a while, is becoming less and less necessary and is inching towards becoming obsolete (and cue the rabid Flash fan base in 3….2….1). The new capabilities that HTML5 and CSS3 provide us with make it possible to provide interactive experiences that were once unimaginable without the help of Flash, and to do so with openly available technologies.

Good For Him

Finally — I just wanted to state that I found it refreshing to see a company so openly address their critics. It shows us that even though Apple may be getting bigger and bigger, and even though they have demonstrated some Orwellian traits, they’re not entirely out of touch with the development community and are in fact listening.