Apple explains why no Flash on iPhone

Written by Joe Martin

April 30, 2010 | 10:52

Tags: #flash #ipad #iphone #ipod #steve-jobs

Companies: #adobe #apple

Apple boss Steve Jobs has published a rare open letter on the official Apple site which explains comprehensively why none of Apple's mobile products support or make use of Adobe Flash.

The main reason is, unsurprisingly, that Apple would rather make use of open standards like HTML5 than closed platforms that are dependant on third parties.

Jobs' letter starts by explaining how the decision is not a personal one, highlighting how Adobe and Apple have a long history and have worked closely together in the past, before laying down six reasons why Apple avoids Flash on the iPhone and iPad - including the technical failings and slowness of Flash.

"Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash," says Jobs. "What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads...Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained."

As well as picking problems with the third-party nature of Adobe and the impact on battery life, Jobs also said that Flash applications were designed for PCs with mice and that Apple's touch-based interface therefore made usability a problem.

"Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice," Jobs said in summary. "Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short."

"The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content."

You can read the whole letter at Apple's site, but be sure to let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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