I can’t believe I’m linking to Valleywag, but there it is. They have a recap of Steve Jobs’ iPod demo for editors at the Wall Street Journal.
I agree with the many people who argue that Apple’s feud with Adobe over including Flash on mobile devices is mostly about control. Apple does not want people developing applications for the iPhone on a proprietary platform that will be ported to other platforms. I suspect that part of this is a pure power play, and that part of it is that they want iPhone applications to look like other iPhone applications, rather than looking like whatever UI toolkit the platform provider offers. My point here is that Apple has reasons both user-centered and selfish for keeping Flash off the iPhone.
Anyway, Apple can get away with it if they can make Adobe the bad guy. That’s why they keep bringing up the things that really are bad about Flash. It is a CPU hog (especially on OS X), it does cause browser crashes, and there are security problems with it. It enables Web sites to circumvent your browser preferences by providing its own cookies and allowing sites to do things like launch pop-up windows regardless of your other settings. When Apple points out the obvious shortcomings with Flash, they do well politically.
What Jobs is doing here, though, I think serves Apple very poorly. They look like the bully. It’s one thing to actively try to kill off the floppy disk, it’s another to try to kill of a popular and useful (in spite of everything) technology with a very active community of developers and lots of happy users to serve your own selfish ends. I don’t think that will serve Apple very well.
One point Jobs is said to have made is that there are readily available alternatives to Flash that the Wall Street Journal could use just as easily, but that’s just not true. The New York Times is cranking out interactive features in Flash every day, like this one explaining how Lindsey Vonn won the women’s downhill, and this one breaking down Obama’s 2011 budget. The effort required to produce something similar in HTML is much higher, and the results will not be as slick, nor are they likely to work in older browsers at all.
Steve Jobs may want to kill Flash, but openly saying it is a big mistake.