Is Steve Jobs lying about Flash not working on iPhone?

RUMOR ALERT — I have not substantiated this with anyone at either Adobe or Apple, so might turn out to be totally false:

Today I got a note from someone I know who works closely with Adobe and Apple. He saw my “Apple stabs Adobe in the Back” post and wanted to give me some details about what’s going on between Adobe and Apple. He says that he’s seen Flash running on an iPhone in a lab and that it’s been running for quite a while and that it’s not a technical issue that caused Steve Jobs to go public about not putting Adobe’s Flash on the iPhone. He wrote “Geez – my Chumby with half the CPU horsepower can run Flash8/AS2.”

So, what’s the reason, according to my source?

Adobe is playing hardball with Apple over their PDF renderer. “Adobe wants Apple to use the Adobe PDF renderer.” His thesis? Steve Jobs is playing hard to get to get Adobe to give up this demand.

Again, I have no idea if this is true or not. But tomorrow’s SDK announcement with Apple is going to be very interesting to listen to.

161 thoughts on “Is Steve Jobs lying about Flash not working on iPhone?

  1. according to apple announcement, apple just wants to treat all applications which developed with iPhone on their Store and play the application easy and securely for iPhone users. their (new) business model cannot work well when the flash player ran well on iPhone. it is likely game console business model. although Store for iPhone is trial run, he has already noticed the key is distribution. he would just adjust the direction if the model failed after a year, then, it is enough to the Flash support on iPhone.

  2. according to apple announcement, apple just wants to treat all applications which developed with iPhone on their Store and play the application easy and securely for iPhone users. their (new) business model cannot work well when the flash player ran well on iPhone. it is likely game console business model. although Store for iPhone is trial run, he has already noticed the key is distribution. he would just adjust the direction if the model failed after a year, then, it is enough to the Flash support on iPhone.

  3. And I expect Steve will eventually give them flash as Steve has built up Apple with a “For the people” type philosophy. I expect it masks the corporate nature of Steve and Apple, but it has been extremely successful.
    But yes, the people want flash, I want flash. It is an amazing tool. I can knock up control interfaces in minutes. AJAX takes 10x as long. I am not dising AJAX, its great for many things, but Flash is generally better overall from my experience. (Its just harder to learn, and generally I find web developers are set in there ways and don’t like learning new tech)

    I must admit, Steve DOES have one point. Flash can EAT all your CPU, but this is usually because the developer writing the Flash app is a CRAP developer. (Common as they are usually designers by trade). Flash is very efficient. Much more then AJAX. It is the bad coding that is the issue. And I can see Jobs having issue here. But then again, you can code a javascript page bad as well..

    James

  4. And I expect Steve will eventually give them flash as Steve has built up Apple with a “For the people” type philosophy. I expect it masks the corporate nature of Steve and Apple, but it has been extremely successful.
    But yes, the people want flash, I want flash. It is an amazing tool. I can knock up control interfaces in minutes. AJAX takes 10x as long. I am not dising AJAX, its great for many things, but Flash is generally better overall from my experience. (Its just harder to learn, and generally I find web developers are set in there ways and don’t like learning new tech)

    I must admit, Steve DOES have one point. Flash can EAT all your CPU, but this is usually because the developer writing the Flash app is a CRAP developer. (Common as they are usually designers by trade). Flash is very efficient. Much more then AJAX. It is the bad coding that is the issue. And I can see Jobs having issue here. But then again, you can code a javascript page bad as well..

    James

  5. Steve Jobs is a clever but ignorant man. If people want Flash, which they clearly do then give them Flash. Thats it.

  6. Steve Jobs is a clever but ignorant man. If people want Flash, which they clearly do then give them Flash. Thats it.

  7. Let’s not turn speculation on whether the iPhone will run flash into yet
    another *yawn* flash-bashing session. I am sooo bored of uninformed
    Flash bashing that does not stand up to a grain of truth.

    As for Flash running slow on Macs versus PCs, it’s a problem that occurs
    mostly in Flash player 8 and below, as a difference in the frame
    rendering engine. Any Flash developer worth their salt will know that if
    you set the frame rate of the FLA to 21, 31, or 41, that “bug” will
    disappear, and mac SWFs will run just as fast as their PC counterparts.
    Don’t blame the technology, blame the developer for being too clueless
    to know how to code a decent Flash app. And apps designed for the VM2
    (AS3) runtime in the Flash player run at the same speed on the PC as it
    does the mac. So let’s put that one to rest already.

    As for Jobs not willing to put Flash on the iPhone, as a Flash/Flex
    developer I can see that as a perfectly reasonable assertion. One reason
    I won’t currently touch Flash mobile development with a ten foot pole is
    that the Flash Lite player is a pathetically chopped down version of the
    Flash player which requires a mix of AS1 and AS2 coding techniques with
    a “hackiness” that almost makes Lingo programming look robust. I love
    AIR, it’s the best thing since sliced bread for an RIA developer such as
    myself; but for mobile, I’m waiting until they improve the technology a
    bit. I want my FLV (cue dire straits song :)… in Flash Player 9
    thank-you-very-much.

    A more plausible reason for there being no Flash on the iPhone is that
    there is currently no version of the Flash player that would integrate
    well enough with the iPhone hardware: Flash Lite 2 is too clunky and
    primitive for such a sophisticated device, and the current Flash Player
    9 may be too resource intensive, as its garbage collection routines
    could stand some improvement. Given the roadmap discussions on Flex 4 I
    attended at a recent Flex converence, and the up and coming modular
    nature of the next version of the Flex framework and some of the
    improvements to the next Flash player, in all plausibility Apple is
    simply waiting for Adobe to license a “fuller” version of the Flash
    Player 9 or 10 for use on the iPhone.

    I am sure there are a fair bit of politics involved, but in all
    likelihood (attention: pure speculation ahead) Adobe and Apple may be in
    talks to establish quicktime player capability in the next version of
    the Flash Player, as the FLV standard is currently kicking Apple’s
    Quicktime off the net as the current de-facto standard for online video,
    and it’ unlikely Apple wants to invite that wolf into their home without
    some serious adjustments. And given the iTunes licensing model, it’s
    quite possible they’ll want some form of DRM for video and audio in
    Flash as well.

    Everyone assumes there’s this incredibly aggressive war going on between
    Apple and Adobe. What if there is no such thing going on, and Apple and
    Adobe are merely taking their time to sort out the mutual licensing
    rights? Quicktime, PDF, iTunes, DRM, FLV, SWF, Flash Player, iPhone OS
    – all these are proprietary technologies, on both sides, and getting
    them to legally play well together will take time for the suits to work out.

    So please, let’s leave the limp “Apple is doing an f-you to Adobe”
    rumours on Slashdot and MySpace where they belong.

  8. Let’s not turn speculation on whether the iPhone will run flash into yet
    another *yawn* flash-bashing session. I am sooo bored of uninformed
    Flash bashing that does not stand up to a grain of truth.

    As for Flash running slow on Macs versus PCs, it’s a problem that occurs
    mostly in Flash player 8 and below, as a difference in the frame
    rendering engine. Any Flash developer worth their salt will know that if
    you set the frame rate of the FLA to 21, 31, or 41, that “bug” will
    disappear, and mac SWFs will run just as fast as their PC counterparts.
    Don’t blame the technology, blame the developer for being too clueless
    to know how to code a decent Flash app. And apps designed for the VM2
    (AS3) runtime in the Flash player run at the same speed on the PC as it
    does the mac. So let’s put that one to rest already.

    As for Jobs not willing to put Flash on the iPhone, as a Flash/Flex
    developer I can see that as a perfectly reasonable assertion. One reason
    I won’t currently touch Flash mobile development with a ten foot pole is
    that the Flash Lite player is a pathetically chopped down version of the
    Flash player which requires a mix of AS1 and AS2 coding techniques with
    a “hackiness” that almost makes Lingo programming look robust. I love
    AIR, it’s the best thing since sliced bread for an RIA developer such as
    myself; but for mobile, I’m waiting until they improve the technology a
    bit. I want my FLV (cue dire straits song :)… in Flash Player 9
    thank-you-very-much.

    A more plausible reason for there being no Flash on the iPhone is that
    there is currently no version of the Flash player that would integrate
    well enough with the iPhone hardware: Flash Lite 2 is too clunky and
    primitive for such a sophisticated device, and the current Flash Player
    9 may be too resource intensive, as its garbage collection routines
    could stand some improvement. Given the roadmap discussions on Flex 4 I
    attended at a recent Flex converence, and the up and coming modular
    nature of the next version of the Flex framework and some of the
    improvements to the next Flash player, in all plausibility Apple is
    simply waiting for Adobe to license a “fuller” version of the Flash
    Player 9 or 10 for use on the iPhone.

    I am sure there are a fair bit of politics involved, but in all
    likelihood (attention: pure speculation ahead) Adobe and Apple may be in
    talks to establish quicktime player capability in the next version of
    the Flash Player, as the FLV standard is currently kicking Apple’s
    Quicktime off the net as the current de-facto standard for online video,
    and it’ unlikely Apple wants to invite that wolf into their home without
    some serious adjustments. And given the iTunes licensing model, it’s
    quite possible they’ll want some form of DRM for video and audio in
    Flash as well.

    Everyone assumes there’s this incredibly aggressive war going on between
    Apple and Adobe. What if there is no such thing going on, and Apple and
    Adobe are merely taking their time to sort out the mutual licensing
    rights? Quicktime, PDF, iTunes, DRM, FLV, SWF, Flash Player, iPhone OS
    – all these are proprietary technologies, on both sides, and getting
    them to legally play well together will take time for the suits to work out.

    So please, let’s leave the limp “Apple is doing an f-you to Adobe”
    rumours on Slashdot and MySpace where they belong.

  9. Strange that i-mode internet phones in Japan have supported Flash for several year snow..

    doesn’t make sense that something that works fine for developers and users in Japan, on the worlds most successful mobile internet platform, can’t work on an iphone which probably has a more sophisticated operation system.

    http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/eng…..index.html

    i always wondered where apple got their “i” in ipod and iphone.. i think i-mode :)

  10. Strange that i-mode internet phones in Japan have supported Flash for several year snow..

    doesn’t make sense that something that works fine for developers and users in Japan, on the worlds most successful mobile internet platform, can’t work on an iphone which probably has a more sophisticated operation system.

    http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/eng…..index.html

    i always wondered where apple got their “i” in ipod and iphone.. i think i-mode :)

  11. It’s funny to read some of these uninformed blog posting comments.

    PDF support in Mac OS X and on the iPhone is using technology that Apple developed internally and independently of Adobe. (PDF is a published standard). The reason why PDF created by Mac OS X natively is PDF 1.4 is because Apple doesn’t have a huge incentive to keep up with the PDF spec – people can just complain to Adobe :-). The latest spec should be PDF 1.7, when Acrobat 8.0 came out.

    The reason why Preview runs so fast is because it just rasterizes the PDF page – displays the image. For better or worse, Preview owns the “MIME” type for rendering PDF. Most people do not need a lot of the advanced features that a PDF created by Adobe Acrobat (like filling in forms) or other Adobe applications. But Adobe Reader does support all the features – that is one reason why the Reader for both Mac and Windows is so fat. And Adobe, at least for the Windows Adobe Reader, has been working on improving the launch of Adobe Reader. If you launch Adobe Reader 7.0 or 8.0 – it will launch faster than previous versions.

    No graphics professional is going to export PDF from Mac OS X PDF engine and send it to printer. They will export using InDesign, Photoshop, etc… where the PDF output will be to the latest spec and support the print options and info the print professionals are looking for (i.e. color separation, etc..)

    Adobe nor Macromedia has ever charged for the desktop Flash Player for Windows, Mac or Linux for end users.
    Adobe does license the desktop Flash Player to corporations if they need something customized or need to distribute it as part of their application.
    Adobe does charge to license Flash Lite – the “mobile version” of Flash.

    And there is a reason for this – because it takes a lot of work to develop and port Flash Lite to a wide and diverse number of platforms, and that work should be compensated as long as Adobe can derive licensing fees. But that day is probably coming to an end sooner rather than later, because I highly doubt Microsoft is licensing Silverlight as expensively as Adobe is for Flash Lite – in fact, it would not surprise me if Microsoft was giving Silverlight free to Nokia or even paying Nokia to include Flash Lite (unless there is something anti-competitive about that…)

    As for the Flash Player 7 SDK – well, the reason why that hasn’t been updated is due to Adobe’s focus on the mobile handset and the lack of interest and ROI case to update that SDK as far as I can tell.

    As for all the complaints about Adobe releasing Mac software late, especially for Creative Suites to be Mac OS X native, Leopard, etc.. native – Anyone who has developed software understand the complexities of multiple releases and bug fixes – it is a nightmare. Both Apple and Adobe have their own agendas, yet are still interdependent on each other for part of their success. Apple’s OS releases don’t fit perfectly with Adobe’s releases – and also, neither of their development schedules also align with Microsoft’s. Think about it – Adobe is one of the few remaining large ISV’s that is cross platform for most of their applications for both Windows and Macintosh.

    I’d say that in the early days, Apple and Adobe needed each other – and had a symbiotic relationship. The Mac would not have survived without the LaserWriter and PostScript. When Jobs licensed PostScript, he also bought 25% of Adobe. I think Adobe would have been fine without Apple because PostScript was really the only game in town for a great printing engine, and Adobe literally printed $ with PostScript (an old-timer Adobe friend of mine said that in the good old days, Adobe had the highest revenue/employee in the U.S.). All the major laser printing companies licensed PostScript from Adobe in the early days.

    When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, Jobs visited Adobe to reassure Adobe management that he was going to fix Apple and wanted to reassure that Adobe was committed to the Mac platform.

    After John Warnock retired from Adobe as CEO (he is still co-chairman), and Bruce Chizen took over, I think, for one reason or another, Adobe and Apple started drifting apart. Chizen was more Wall Street oriented.

    I really don’t think Steve Jobs has that much respect for Chizen. I met an ex-Adobe person at a MacWorld Expo about 2 years ago, and she told me the story about her first day at Apple, being in an elevator with Jobs. Jobs saw that she was a new employee at Apple and carrying stuff with her to bring to her desk, and he asked where she worked previously. When she said Adobe, Jobs went nuts and asked, “What the hell is Bruce trying to do at Adobe – make it into Microsoft!”

    I wonder what Jobs thinks of Shantanu Narayen. At least Narayen has an engineering background, something that Jobs would respect a whole lot more than Chizen, who I think Jobs has always thought of as a “sales” guy.

  12. It’s funny to read some of these uninformed blog posting comments.

    PDF support in Mac OS X and on the iPhone is using technology that Apple developed internally and independently of Adobe. (PDF is a published standard). The reason why PDF created by Mac OS X natively is PDF 1.4 is because Apple doesn’t have a huge incentive to keep up with the PDF spec – people can just complain to Adobe :-). The latest spec should be PDF 1.7, when Acrobat 8.0 came out.

    The reason why Preview runs so fast is because it just rasterizes the PDF page – displays the image. For better or worse, Preview owns the “MIME” type for rendering PDF. Most people do not need a lot of the advanced features that a PDF created by Adobe Acrobat (like filling in forms) or other Adobe applications. But Adobe Reader does support all the features – that is one reason why the Reader for both Mac and Windows is so fat. And Adobe, at least for the Windows Adobe Reader, has been working on improving the launch of Adobe Reader. If you launch Adobe Reader 7.0 or 8.0 – it will launch faster than previous versions.

    No graphics professional is going to export PDF from Mac OS X PDF engine and send it to printer. They will export using InDesign, Photoshop, etc… where the PDF output will be to the latest spec and support the print options and info the print professionals are looking for (i.e. color separation, etc..)

    Adobe nor Macromedia has ever charged for the desktop Flash Player for Windows, Mac or Linux for end users.
    Adobe does license the desktop Flash Player to corporations if they need something customized or need to distribute it as part of their application.
    Adobe does charge to license Flash Lite – the “mobile version” of Flash.

    And there is a reason for this – because it takes a lot of work to develop and port Flash Lite to a wide and diverse number of platforms, and that work should be compensated as long as Adobe can derive licensing fees. But that day is probably coming to an end sooner rather than later, because I highly doubt Microsoft is licensing Silverlight as expensively as Adobe is for Flash Lite – in fact, it would not surprise me if Microsoft was giving Silverlight free to Nokia or even paying Nokia to include Flash Lite (unless there is something anti-competitive about that…)

    As for the Flash Player 7 SDK – well, the reason why that hasn’t been updated is due to Adobe’s focus on the mobile handset and the lack of interest and ROI case to update that SDK as far as I can tell.

    As for all the complaints about Adobe releasing Mac software late, especially for Creative Suites to be Mac OS X native, Leopard, etc.. native – Anyone who has developed software understand the complexities of multiple releases and bug fixes – it is a nightmare. Both Apple and Adobe have their own agendas, yet are still interdependent on each other for part of their success. Apple’s OS releases don’t fit perfectly with Adobe’s releases – and also, neither of their development schedules also align with Microsoft’s. Think about it – Adobe is one of the few remaining large ISV’s that is cross platform for most of their applications for both Windows and Macintosh.

    I’d say that in the early days, Apple and Adobe needed each other – and had a symbiotic relationship. The Mac would not have survived without the LaserWriter and PostScript. When Jobs licensed PostScript, he also bought 25% of Adobe. I think Adobe would have been fine without Apple because PostScript was really the only game in town for a great printing engine, and Adobe literally printed $ with PostScript (an old-timer Adobe friend of mine said that in the good old days, Adobe had the highest revenue/employee in the U.S.). All the major laser printing companies licensed PostScript from Adobe in the early days.

    When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, Jobs visited Adobe to reassure Adobe management that he was going to fix Apple and wanted to reassure that Adobe was committed to the Mac platform.

    After John Warnock retired from Adobe as CEO (he is still co-chairman), and Bruce Chizen took over, I think, for one reason or another, Adobe and Apple started drifting apart. Chizen was more Wall Street oriented.

    I really don’t think Steve Jobs has that much respect for Chizen. I met an ex-Adobe person at a MacWorld Expo about 2 years ago, and she told me the story about her first day at Apple, being in an elevator with Jobs. Jobs saw that she was a new employee at Apple and carrying stuff with her to bring to her desk, and he asked where she worked previously. When she said Adobe, Jobs went nuts and asked, “What the hell is Bruce trying to do at Adobe – make it into Microsoft!”

    I wonder what Jobs thinks of Shantanu Narayen. At least Narayen has an engineering background, something that Jobs would respect a whole lot more than Chizen, who I think Jobs has always thought of as a “sales” guy.

  13. My G4 titanium powerbook, 800mhz, still worked brilliant fast and had the latest operating system (at that time, Tiger) until I finally replaced it with a MBP.

    The tibook could handle anything: loads of apps open, loads of tabs, games, high res videos, whatever.

    Except Flash. It really, really struggled with flash on webpages. Not just intense flash structured sites, but web pages with flash ads on them. It would go slow, performance was hideously degraded, flash animations would stutter and stagger and be slow.

    There was nothing wrong with it, it just found Flash a struggle. Now I am not technical enough to know how an 800mhz G4 compares with the iPhone’s processor. But I can see why there could be problems with certain implementations of Flash on the iPhone.

    That said I would rather take an optional, limited or poor implementation than no Flash at all.

  14. My G4 titanium powerbook, 800mhz, still worked brilliant fast and had the latest operating system (at that time, Tiger) until I finally replaced it with a MBP.

    The tibook could handle anything: loads of apps open, loads of tabs, games, high res videos, whatever.

    Except Flash. It really, really struggled with flash on webpages. Not just intense flash structured sites, but web pages with flash ads on them. It would go slow, performance was hideously degraded, flash animations would stutter and stagger and be slow.

    There was nothing wrong with it, it just found Flash a struggle. Now I am not technical enough to know how an 800mhz G4 compares with the iPhone’s processor. But I can see why there could be problems with certain implementations of Flash on the iPhone.

    That said I would rather take an optional, limited or poor implementation than no Flash at all.

  15. Makes perfect sense.

    Apple probably was getting back at Adobe with OSX with the native ability to write to a .pdf file from print mode completely eliminating the need for the overpriced Adobe writer ap.

    But then again Adobe got were it was from Apple with postcript…

    Adobe wants to play with the big boys, but they just don’t have that much in the quiver to give Apple and MS Google a run for the money. Lot’s of free Adobe type aps out there that work just as well…

  16. Makes perfect sense.

    Apple probably was getting back at Adobe with OSX with the native ability to write to a .pdf file from print mode completely eliminating the need for the overpriced Adobe writer ap.

    But then again Adobe got were it was from Apple with postcript…

    Adobe wants to play with the big boys, but they just don’t have that much in the quiver to give Apple and MS Google a run for the money. Lot’s of free Adobe type aps out there that work just as well…

  17. Just a thought, but do you consider the difficulties involved in re-creating the ui required by flash in a touch environment to be trivial enough that it’s not part of the reason we don’t see flash on the iPhone? No mouse to mouse-over with; no drag&drop; how to handle both the screen resolution and zooming of moving interactive flash pages?what about all those wonderful UI elements invented by the flash app developers? It all sounds wonderfully hit & miss whether a page would work or not. Exactly the experience. Most iPhone users are looking for….isn’t it?

  18. Just a thought, but do you consider the difficulties involved in re-creating the ui required by flash in a touch environment to be trivial enough that it’s not part of the reason we don’t see flash on the iPhone? No mouse to mouse-over with; no drag&drop; how to handle both the screen resolution and zooming of moving interactive flash pages?what about all those wonderful UI elements invented by the flash app developers? It all sounds wonderfully hit & miss whether a page would work or not. Exactly the experience. Most iPhone users are looking for….isn’t it?

  19. PDF is already built-into the iPod Touch and iPhone. There is no need for another license agreement with Adobe (Apple licensed it for OS X years ago). This talk is nonsense.

  20. PDF is already built-into the iPod Touch and iPhone. There is no need for another license agreement with Adobe (Apple licensed it for OS X years ago). This talk is nonsense.

  21. Anyone want some fresh crow? How shall I cook for you? The first batch comes off the grill in 10 minutes. If you need a towel to wipe off the egg on your face, we have some Microsoft towels to pass out.

  22. Anyone want some fresh crow? How shall I cook for you? The first batch comes off the grill in 10 minutes. If you need a towel to wipe off the egg on your face, we have some Microsoft towels to pass out.

  23. Apple has hired some SVG experts over the last few years. Webkit is growing great wrt SVG support, not only for on-line apps. Maybe it matters?

  24. Apple has hired some SVG experts over the last few years. Webkit is growing great wrt SVG support, not only for on-line apps. Maybe it matters?

  25. Flash would open up a whole new development platform on the iPhone that Apple wouldn’t be able to control. It would offer developers cross platform support for their apps as well as a steaming video player that would give users more options to put video on their phone outside of buying it from Apple. This goes completely against Apple’s non-open business model.

    I’m not doubting that there are a lot of performance concerns, both in processing and bandwidth. I’m sure that a web site running a bunch of embedded flash files would probably run pretty bad on the iPhone, but considering what I’ve seen run on this phone, I’m sure it’s not something that the geniuses at Apple couldn’t figure out. I really feel this is more about Apple wanting total control of the iPhone platform than it is a technical issue. The same is true for Java.

    Or maybe Apple is coming out with their own competitor to Flash that runs on the iPhone too. Imagine being able to use core animation, coverflow, ect. on your web site?

  26. Flash would open up a whole new development platform on the iPhone that Apple wouldn’t be able to control. It would offer developers cross platform support for their apps as well as a steaming video player that would give users more options to put video on their phone outside of buying it from Apple. This goes completely against Apple’s non-open business model.

    I’m not doubting that there are a lot of performance concerns, both in processing and bandwidth. I’m sure that a web site running a bunch of embedded flash files would probably run pretty bad on the iPhone, but considering what I’ve seen run on this phone, I’m sure it’s not something that the geniuses at Apple couldn’t figure out. I really feel this is more about Apple wanting total control of the iPhone platform than it is a technical issue. The same is true for Java.

    Or maybe Apple is coming out with their own competitor to Flash that runs on the iPhone too. Imagine being able to use core animation, coverflow, ect. on your web site?

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