Is Apple right?

I’ve not really paid much attention to the spat between Apple and Adobe over Flash. However, recently, I’ve noticed a deterioration in the responsiveness in web sites that use Flash for video content. The BBC World Cup and Telegraph web site are two glaring examples. Pages freeze and scrolling becomes intermittent. I did a little digging and came across this statement by Steve Jobs. I had thought that Apple were just being obstructive, but now I’m lined up with Apple. I hope Adobe pulls its finger out and sorts the problems, but I somehow doubt it.

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9 thoughts on “Is Apple right?”

  1. In short, no. 🙂

    I’m platform agnostic. I have a Macbook, Sony phone, Windows PC running Linux virtual machines. My day job is Sun Solaris Sys Admin.

    I agree that HTML 5 is the future for many applications. But the sheer hypocrisy of Jobs and Apple is staggering. Sniping at Adobe about their 100% proprietary product line is laughable given Apple are exactly the same. OK they may have made one or two concessions to Open Source with Webkit and Darwin. But make no mistake, Apple is hugely anti-competitive. This is not about performance or battery life. It’s about neutering your competition.

    They want to dictate what software you can install on you iPhone/iPad via their app stores, they want to squeeze every last drop of revenue out of every avenue they can.

    That’s the real reason Flash is locked out of Apple’s mobile ecosystem. They can’t control it. Free flash apps would compete directly with the App store Apple is making huge sums of money from. Simple as that.

    BTW, if you’re using Safari, check out Click to Flash to tame embedded Flash.

  2. Thanks for the tip Fraser. I jumped ship to Apple in Jan this year as I had a gutfull of WIndows Vista. Saying that Fraser summed it up well and it is all about the share price and dividend at the end of the day.

  3. I’m not sure that is fair Fraser.

    Flash does cause Macs to crash occasionally — both my desktop and laptop. To be fair to Adobe they claim that Apple are not using the latest version of the flash plugin, but mine as as up to date as they can be.

    We are still waiting for Flash mobile and I suspect this is not as easy to get right as they thought. As I understand it whether a flash movie is actually on the screen, or on part of the page that is not being displayed) it is still drawing power.

    Battery life is pretty critical to a mobile.

    Flash Player for Mobiles (v.1) only arrived today!

    I agree with the comments about propriety lines — we do need web standards right the way along the line. That’s why I suspect html 5 will prevail.

  4. Apple have a right to make their own decisions – if they wish to make that or justify it based protecting the user experience then fine. Consumers at the end of the day have a choice.

    Being an avid reader of forums what I see is that the polarisation in opinion tends to be between ‘techies’ who understand RAM, Ghz etc. and who love to dabble, tweak and fettle and consumers who just want a product that works, delivers a user experience and care not about how. Of course it’s the techies who are active and vocal on forums but in terms of the overall market they are in fact in the minority. Apple, as a matter of philosophy, have done more than anyone to recognise and put usability and experience above the technology – which for the majority is what matters.

    As a semi-techie I used to love playing and tweaking….until Windows Vista that is! Now I just want stuff to work, to enjoy my technology and gadgets as a means to an end, as a medium for doing stuff – consuming content, accessing services etc. – without having to think/worry about how its being delivered. If my user experience is affected by Apples decisions/restrictions then either a) I can thank them for it or b) I can vote with my feet/wallet and buy elsewhere.

    At the end of the day you could argue that it doesn’t matter who is right/wrong – the market will dictate. Apple does have competition – Android/Google will see to that – but my guess is that Apple (and their shareholders) would be far happier delivering a more seamless, albeit controlled, user experience for millions of everyday consumers than attempt to appease a minority.

    Many of us older(!) chaps have grown up in an age of ‘real’ computers/hardware/software/wires and have been used to a degree of fettling to get things to work. Tomorrows generation of consumers will be further removed from the technology than ever – to them its will be even more about usability , services/applications and access/availability – they’ll not care as much about how they are delivered or the tech specs behind them. The migration of services to the web/cloud will also see less reliance on hardware spec’s- viz, the explosion in lower powered cheaper netbooks for simple web-access – interestingly many of them struggle with flash!

    … as for flash on my iPad..I miss it very rarely. My desktop/laptop barely get a look in these days as despite it’s ‘limitations’ the ipad delivers 90% of what I need for 90% of the time, yet in a more accessible/convenient/engaging manner.

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend Adobe or Flash. Flash does crash occasionally, as do many software apps. I understand the iPhone has pretty shoddy battery life compared to other phones, so running CPU hungry apps will reduce this further, but surely that’s a choice for the consumer to make for themselves?

    The lack of Flash on iOS devices is 85% about revenue, 15% about everything else Jobs mentions…

  6. I have all sorts of problems with Flash on my Macbook as well as my iPhone (well, it doesn’t work at all on my iPhone). Apple are hugely revenue-biased and anti-competitive but Microsoft aren’t?? Sure they’re a bunch of hypocrites, but so is everyone. Every year a new bug, more viruses, more crucial software, then a new fix and then, finally, a few years on, a new Windows system that costs a fortune? For the last 15 years we, the public, have been replacing our PC’s every couple of years as the technology advanced so quickly our old ones became obsolete – no so with Apple, some users have been using the same PC’s for years. It’s only now that Windows machine advancement has started to level out for the mainstream user. I have recently switched from Windows to Mac OS and the change has been amazing. I can see why their evangelical. Synching the iPhone to Mac is so easy – not even close to synching the BlackBerry I had to Windows machines.

  7. As a systems programmer all my working life – and without any vested technical interest in mobile devices / platforms since I don’t have any – Fraser’s point about the proprietary fortress mentality is the critical one that really gets to me.
    I’ve mentioned elsewhere that companies like these are slowly eroding our perceptions about ‘ownership’, e.g. the only apps you can install on the iPhone are those from the App store. It’s no defence to say that there are thousands (or whatever) apps that cover all your needs. Listen mate, if I buy an iPhone it’s MINE. I’ll install whatever apps I choose, and if I can’t, you can stick it. We already have one reported case pertinent to us walkers of a map viewer which Apple removed from the App store due to commercial pressure (I’m not picking on Apple particularly, that’s just one example I know about).

    I’m amazed that so many people are sleepwalking into these proprietary locked prisons and seemingly relishing the experience.

  8. You’re right Fraser – of course it’s a choice for the consumer to make for themselves. They can decide to buy a device that doesn’t crash and who user experience may be slightly sanitised but just works….or they can buy something else – it’s their choice and if Apple go to far to the right then perhaps people will vote with their feet….but I doubt it.

    I’m not sure how lack of flash is 85% about revenue – unless more people are buying Apple products because by not supporting flash they have improved battery life and a more stable user experience. In which case Apple and the consumer both win!

    I do believe there are areas where Apple could do with loosening their grip. The reliance on a bit of wire plugged into iTunes for synch’ing and transferring is a pain in the ass. It wouldn’t be so bad if MobileMe had tighter integration (and was free) but betwixt DropBox and GoogleSync I have decent workarounds….but as a consumer I shouldn’t have to think about workarounds.

    1. I understand the sentiments of Geoff’s comments and agree with the actuality of Nigel’s points. I disagree with Geoff to this extent – if Apple maintain a vice-like grip on what I can do with my Macbook and my iPhone, but that prison is one in which my functionality is not curtailed, then I have no problem with it. If they prevent me from doing something I want to (which they do in only one sense – in a moment) then I am upset but I must balance what they offer me in comparison to other service/product-providers against that curtailment. For instance, I can only share my downloaded files with 5 others (nominated by me). That annoys me as I’ve paid for them. However, I have experienced such amazing functionality at the hands of the Macbook and the iPhone that what they offer me far outweighs that small impediment. The simple fact that employ that grip might offend my principles but, in the world we live in, reality is more important than principle unless you are not alone and have sufficient support to be in a position of strength. Apple is so popular that the individual consumer is not in a position of strength.

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