Now We Know Why Apple Rejected Flash

Adobe seeks to extend reach of Flash, nukes licensing fees

Adobe has announced a new initiative called Open Screen, which aims to make the company’s Flash multimedia technology ubiquitous on mobile and embedded devices. Adobe plans to eliminate the licensing fees required to distribute its own Flash player and AIR runtime implementations on mobile devices and will also remove licensing restrictions on the specifications for the FLV and SWF formats so that developers can create fully-compatible independent Flash player implementations.

Emphasis added by me.

If you don’t think this is because of Apple rejecting Flash for the iPhone, you don’t know your history — or are too young and simply didn’t live through it.

Adobe doesn’t want a repeat of its TrueType defeat.

Apple used any excuse it could plausibly get away with to throw dirt on the Flash format. Some of it justified, but most of it was simply arm-twisting.

I can envision Steve Jobs himself telling Adobe: You need us, we’re doing just fine without you. If you want Flash on the iPhone, we want it for free.

Faced with that, remembering what happened with TrueType, Adobe had no choice but to make a daring move.

Now, the ball is in Apple’s court.

Just the way Apple wanted it, too: for free!

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14 Comments on “Now We Know Why Apple Rejected Flash”

  1. Robert B. Says:

    You’re missing the point entirely! Flash is still going to be a proprietary technology, not an open standard for video. If Adobe would just get off of the Microsoft mindset and develop superior tools for open standards there wouldn’t be the tension with Apple. Flash still doesn’t work on cell phones without being a resource hog; and even then, poorly.

    You may be in love with Flash. I don’t believe it will be a “good citizen” with Apple’s iPhone and it’s OS structure no matter what Apple does. Apple has their own, clear ideas as to user experience and it doesn’t include turning some of that vision over to Adobe’s control with proprietary technologies.

  2. mikecane Says:

    Me? In love with Flash? Hardly. This post addressed the politics behind the issue, not the technology.

    I’m glad I can grab YouTube in clearer and better MP4 over the old lo-res Flash:

    http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/reference-grab-youtube-video-as-mp4/

  3. Alex Curylo Says:

    I think you’re missing a third of the story here. Specifically, Google Android, which most people seem to be overlooking is distinctly absent from Adobe’s cheering section.

    The actual story is that this completes the drawing up of the battle lines for control of the mobile platform.

    1) Apple + picked carriers: OS X + Cocoa Touch + WebKit
    2) Google + Open Handset Alliance: Linux + Java + WebKit
    3) Adobe + Open Screen: + Flash

    I’ll just go out on a limb here and call EPIC FAIL right now on #3. iPhone vs. Android, now, that has distinct potential to be more interesting of a challenge; but I’m betting *my* career on #1, as you can see here —

    http://www.alexcurylo.com/blog/

  4. goobimama Says:

    the one good thing that Apple did with regard to flash is give a separate youtube app. That has pretty much saved the iPhone.

  5. Adobe Neutral Says:

    Just a fact: Flash runs on more computers and devices worldwide than Windows.

    Another one: Adobe has been working on this initiative long before the “Flash is slow” remark from Jobs.

    More: Adobe sells more software to Windows users than Mac users.

    And this: Photoshop and Office are the 2 most important software titles that Apple NEEDS on its platform.

    And lastly: Apple and Adobe both sell proprietary software. That doesn’t make it bad.

    From a devout Mac user.


  6. […] Now We Know Why Apple Rejected Flash Adobe seeks to extend reach of Flash, nukes licensing fees Adobe has announced a new initiative called Open Screen, […] […]


  7. I got the impression Flash was a resource hog and a security liability, and those were the real reasons Apple wanted it off the iPhone.

  8. John C. Randolph Says:

    I don’t know how you concocted this fantasy that Apple’s decision about Flash on the iPhone was based on the cost. If it was any good, they’d have bought it. It’s not, so there’s no point in putting it on the phone at any price, even free.

    -jcr

  9. mikecane Says:

    @Mister Snitch!: And what will the story be when Flash is *on* the iPhone?

    @John C. Randolph: The history books will bear me out. Get into the mind of Jobs and you’ll see how he forced Adobe’s hand, just as he did with TrueType.

    @Adobe Neutral: Did you see Cringely’s latest column where he claims Apple is trying to dump its software?

    http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080502_004815.html

    He is *totally* correct about the vision of Steve Jobs — as well as the kick-ass people who advise him. Apple is playing for keeps and even Microsoft is going to be stunned by the new landscape in 3-5 years.

  10. Ix Says:

    Mister Snitch!

    Flash is a resource hog depending on what it’s doing, anyone who can actually make a flash video can probably make one that chugs on your processing power, but someone skilled can probably make an animation/game that appears the same but doesn’t kill your machine. Same goes for security, the main vulnerabilities aren’t specifically because of flash, but because someone didn’t make their animation/game right and the hole has let a hacker inject code into the site that now exploits your system. The large part of flash problems cited is not because the platform is bad, but because people who don’t know how to use it right start fooling around in it and post their cool new thing online without even checking if it works right or is secure.

  11. mikecane Says:

    Most people are exposed to Flash in two ways:

    1) YouTube vids

    2) Frikkin web ads that clog up the page and slow the browser to a crawl

    I don’t want to see #2 happening on an iPhone in Safari!


  12. […] the significance of Adobe’s decision to cancel licensing fees on its Flash technology: “Now we know why Apple rejected Flash.” They are hoping to prevent a repeat of the TrueType debacle. Here’s the […]

  13. John C. Randolph Says:

    “just as he did with TrueType.”

    You’re a bit fuzzy on your timeline, there. Apple and Microsoft came up with the TrueType scheme during the Sculley period, while SJ was at NeXT and getting along great with Adobe, as their only significant customer for Display Postscript.

    -jcr


  14. Thank you Mike for mentioning True Type. As a content provider only interested in tools to use in my creative thing, I too go way back to the days when Apple was throwing a hammer into the screen showing a old fart with flapping lips. How sad that our beloved Steve(1) has become the icon of an entrenched business type who wears shoes, that seems to have an agenda of not wanting to share an insanely great idea.

    In regards to Flash, that was a Macromedia product Apple had the chance to buy, and declined as it was too similar to their HyperCard (which has yet to be emulated on the PC side of things) I selected this addition to my Director bundle as the perfect way to embed my QuickTime video into a page to keep it from being stolen.

    From the start of the Win-Win-Win web I have been trying to maintain a print magazine principle that the reader actually owned a magazine. Ironically I have been developing http://www.USATravelMagazines.com over the years… supporting the use of a Flash plug-in that started at 10%, the 20%… etc.

    Now, thanks to the release of a tool I, the customer, suggested back in the 1990’s, am I supposed to again support Apple’s battle against …. what?

    As a person who used to be called a net citizen, dammit, give us back our insanely great world!


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