As the debate about the lack of Flash on the iPhone & iPad rumbles on I thought I’d offer my own thoughts.
Flash can be a creative tool but when browsing the web each day what is the most common use of flash (excluding video delivery)? I’d suggest that it’s probably banner adverts. I usually install a plugin to disable Flash content on page load to avoid downloading unnecessary & intrusive flash overlays and banners that seize my browser window and usually do a great job in hiding the close button – if I found stuff like that annoying on a zippy broadband connection on a 21 inch screen, why would I want to download that on a slow connection and play all of that on a mobile device?
The only Flash content that I use regularly is Youtube. But with an iPhone app available to play Youtube videos, I struggle to see a compelling reason for Flash on a smartphone. Add to that the fact that Google is embracing HTML5 and it’s video capabilities – why is Flash apparently such a ‘killer app’?
Steve Jobs has labelled Adobe as ‘lazy’, Flash as ‘buggy’ & suggested that Flash is responsible for the overwhelming majority of browser crashes. But hey… no program is perfect right? And as long as Adobe keep an eye on fixing bugs when they appear then it’s not too bad.
If your company had created a device like the iPhone and knew that the majority of performance problems were related to some software that was not controlled by you – wouldn’t you be annoyed?
Gizmodo suggests that ‘Flash video performs terribly on Mac OS X and Linux‘ and I can see this on my own Linux PC’s & iMac where Youtube’s sound stutters badly & frequently leaving me with no option but to shutdown Firefox.
I’ve worked on websites that use sIFR and found that on Linux machines, text doesn’t render because the Linux version of Flash doesn’t play nicely with the transparent property.
Flash may very well have widespread adoption, but it is not and never will be a recommended web standard and as such Jobs is under no obligation to allow Adobe to roll any old crap out onto their new platforms. However, I also think that this highly publicized feud between Steve Jobs and Adobe will highlight the problems with this plugin, and embarrass Adobe to address these issues.
But then again, perhaps Adobe are distracted, spending far too much time blocking the specification of HTML5… that technology that ‘The world is moving to‘.