It’s been hard not to notice the adamant (and sometimes extreme) stance that a number of Apple fans have taken in Apple’s defense to the shocking evidence that Apple has not been telling the entire truth with regard to their reasoning for not allowing Flash on iPhones/iPods. First, let me be perfectly clear: I own 2 MacBook Pro’s, 2 iPhone 3GS’, an iPod Nano, a ton of Apple software, and to top it off – I bought my Dad a new iMac and my sister a MacBook for Christmas. I love Apple’s products. This is my way of pointing out that this post is not meant to be a defensive response to the attacks against the Flash Platform. If anything, this should help clarify some things for the seemingly misinformed…
Argument: “[Flash] crashes my browser/system”
I’ve read a substantial number of claims that Flash is an awful product in the last 2 days because it “…crashes my browser”. I’ve read people say they have Flash disabled as a result of this, and some go as far as to say “Make a product that doesn’t suck and maybe Apple will include you on its devices”.
How these people are misinformed
From a technical standpoint, this is a ridiculous claim. The Flash plug-in is actually incredibly lightweight compared to the majority of plug-ins that people bog down their browsers with. The problem is not in Flash itself, but rather in the poor programming practices on the part of the developers that are writing the programs that crash your browser. If your CPU pins at 100%, it is usually the result of a recursive loop that is firing an event, which calls back on the method to fire the event again. This occurs on an exponential curve, which is why your CPU gets pegged so quickly. If Java applets won over Flash many years ago, you’d be seeing the same thing. It doesn’t matter what language it is, when developers don’t take a best-practices approach to the code that they write, the end user suffers. I see the same stuff happen in the worlds of Java and .NET. Its negligence and carelessness. Developers have a responsibility to uphold when they build a client-side application, and if that contract is broken, well, your browser crashes.
As one would expect, the average response to this logical reasoning is something along the lines of: “Well then its the fault of the programmers writing Adobe code…” which of course is then somehow tied back to Adobe using a similarly unreasonable argument. So here’s a question – what do you think these developers were doing before they started writing Flash programs? They didn’t appear out of thin air. In fact, the larger percentage of Flash Platform developers come from the Java development community. In the world of application development, some individuals simply do not care to follow standards and conventions in programming best practices, and that is where it ends. If you don’t pick up the trash in your house, you end up with a messy house that is hard to move through. If developers do not pick up their trash as a matter of convention in their programming, then you’re running a crappy program. You can’t blame that on the Flash Virtual Machine. It’s just not logical.
Argument: “Adobe is trying to monopolize the web with a closed format”
I have to be honest, this one made me laugh. Here is an actual quote from a comment that was left on the Flash Platform team’s blog site:
You Adobe people are frelling hypocrites, open standards indeed… Your claims will hold water when you donate the Flash platform to the open source movement. Until then you’re just spewing hypocritical BS about open standards.
Now, I’m not sure what a frelling hypocrite is, but I assume it is much like a regular hypocrite (couldn’t help it). Regarding the last point about these same people that are declaring shenanigans on Adobe because of programmers that write bad code, what do you think would happen if the “Flash Platform was donated to the open source movement” as this person suggests? It gets better too. Included in the package of extremely passionate claims of blasphemy and wrong-doing against Adobe comes the next major reasoning as to why Flash should not be allowed on Apple devices…
Argument: “Flash is loaded with security problems”
Here’s an example of how extreme this gets. The following quote is also pulled right from a comment left on the Flash Platform’s blog site:
“Adobe Flash is a complete piece of junk. When Adobe fixes all the security problems and bugs in Flash, maybe then it deserves more widespread adoption. I can’t wait until the day that Flash is gone.”
This essentially takes us round-trip right back to the very reason that the Flash Player is NOT a “donation” to the “open source movement”. I find it interesting that one would refer to Adobe as being “hypocrites” in this regard; and yet, it just shows how far beyond reason the people that are so actively protesting Flash in Apple’s defense truly are.
The truth here is so blatantly obvious that I am perplexed as to how so many people do not see it. It is very simple: it is inconsistent with Apple’s business model to allow Flash on their mobile devices. Apple makes a massive amount of money by controlling (and taking their cut) of the money that is paid for media consumption by owners of Apple mobile products. Uh…DUH! The only reason this whole thing became so controversial is because Apple was not up front and honest about it. Instead, they made promises to include Flash and then went back on those promises…multiple times. The claim was that Flash was simply too resource-intensive, so Adobe began development of a lightweight SDK that catered just to the iPhone. It was not until the announcement of the iPad; a machine with far more than enough resources to run the full-blown version of Flash, did it become so glaringly obvious that they had been giving Adobe the run-around all this time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it when I feel like someone has not been completely honest with me…but that’s just me. Apple’s runarounds caused many business strategists a lot of frustration, so while the community may be reacting in such an extreme fashion, Adobe really hasn’t been all that vocal about anything yet (probably too busy watching all of this back-and-forth bickering going on…what a PR nightmare!).
This is capitalism at its finest folks, it has nothing to do with the technology. In the end, its all business and its all about the numbers on the bottom line. it’s the country we live in. But that doesn’t mean we the people do not have the power to facilitate change.
With that said, I will conclude with this –
As long as Adobe and Apple – two of the strongest technological innovators in the world – are unable to find a way to collaborate in the effort of furthering the advancement of mobile technology, WE ALL LOSE.
Ryan Stewart has some interesting things to say on the topic as well, not only from the standpoint of an Adobe Evangelist, but from the standpoint of an Apple consumer. Check it out HERE…