Strong opinions, weakly held

The philosophical argument against Flash

At the core, because Flash is the only de facto web standard based on a proprietary technology. There are numerous proprietary web content plugins — including Apple’s QuickTime — but Flash is the only one that’s so ubiquitous that it’s a de facto standard. Flash is the way video is delivered over the web, and Adobe completely controls Flash. No other aspect of the web works like this. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all open standards, with numerous implementations, including several that are open source.

The simplest argument in favor of Flash support on the iPhone (and The Tablet, and everywhere) is that Flash is, by dint of its popularity and ubiquity, part of the web. But the best argument against Flash support is that it is harmful to the web as a whole to have something as important as video be in the hands of a single company, and the only way that’s going to change is if an open alternative becomes a compelling target for web publishers.

John Gruber on why it’s worth resisting Flash.


  1. Worse, Flash is really really really slow. Sure, video is fine on that dual-core real computer, but a netbook with an Atom that can play video via some other software (mplayer, for example) just fine is at the very limits to maybe, maybe not, play low-res youtube via flash.

  2. Flash is painfully slow on Macs. Adobe would like to point the finger at Apple, but the truth is Apple’s hardware is more than fast enough to do video playback. The issue is Flash, pure and simple.

    Apple’s high level of quality control basically forced them to tell Adobe to go take a hike because Flash for video playback simply is not up to the standards they need.

    This is not Apple’s fault; it is Adobe’s.

    Adobe is going to miss out on a HUGE market that we’re all going to find out about tomorrow with Apple’s tablet announcement.

  3. Rafe, what do you think?

    (When I first read Gruber that passage seemed to say “whether the world buys in doesn’t matter; the decision-making process must be by (manipulable) consortium”… he didn’t seem to ask, he seemed to be telling. By similar logic, he should shun iPhone and Macintosh. But that was only one passage in a lengthy sermon, so I didn’t pursue.)

    Thanks for posting with a real name, Cameron! Yes, Macs have performance problems, particularly with anything in a browser. Adobe Corp prefers not to emphasize these, in hopes of getting better cooperation in fixing the problems from Apple Corp. Next generation of smartphones has a lot more cooperation for Flash optimization… you could always supplement your Mac with an Android or Palm or whatever.


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