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Jobs Says Flash Video Not Suitable for iPhone 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-good-for-you dept.
Lev13than writes "Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs said the iPhone won't be using Adobe Systems' Inc.'s popular Flash media player any time soon, saying the technology doesn't meet his company's performance standards for video. Jobs said the version of Flash formatted to personal computers is too slow on the iPhone while the mobile version of the media player is "is not capable of being used with the web." The comments come a day before Apple is set to introduce the company's plan for iPhone SDK, the software developers kit which will allow third-party developers to create applications that can work in conjunction with the popular handheld device."
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Jobs Says Flash Video Not Suitable for iPhone

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  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ncryptd (1172815) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:25AM (#22660976)
    It's much better on x86 -- it used to be absolutely horrid on the PowerPC platform. Given my past experience with Flash on non-x86 architectures, I'm not surprised that Flash on ARM isn't a high-performance solution.
  • by Tweaker_Phreaker (310297) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:27AM (#22660982)
    It's amazing that Steve Jobs criticized flash's performance on PC's when quicktime has long had the slowest decoding on PC's for any format it can play. I think he may be threatened that flash is going to become the defacto player for h.264 on the web.
  • youtube, anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by markybob (802458) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:29AM (#22660992)
    youtube uses flash video, and as most people know, you can view youtube videos on the iphone. so how does this make sense? it seems like jobs is saying the iphone wont support what it already supports. i dont get it
  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:31AM (#22661002) Journal
    Videos turn into a slideshow on my 2ghz Turion running Ubuntu. If you're not using a powerful processor on windows flash will suck for you. Which is probably why I see so much hate for adobe and flash around here since we have a lot of non-windows users on this site and the flash experience is terrible. Adobe needs to shape up and make the linux version work as good as the windows one.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:41AM (#22661038) Homepage Journal
    Why is this a troll, its exactly what the problem is.
    My n810 runs flash - badly - its advertised as working which it does but it drops frames with current implimentation.

    iPhone/Apple users expect more and currently it can't be handled.
  • by rainhill (86347) <[2rainyhill] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:45AM (#22661066)
    you are probably right, but one wanders why youtube works nicely on iphone
  • by Dwedit (232252) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:56AM (#22661096) Homepage
    Flash is a huge, huge CPU hog for playing videos. It is also not the only way to play flash videos.
    I have done comparative performance tests.
    In one corner: Youtube's flash-based player
    In the other corner: Windows Media Player + Gabest's FLV Splitter [sourceforge.net] + FFDSHOW [sourceforge.net].
    When playing the same flash video, Flash took 40% CPU usage, and Windows Media Player took 5% CPU usage.
    This just shows that Flash Player is extremely inefficient. Its performance gets much worse when showing a video in full screen.
  • by vally_manea (911530) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:01AM (#22661118) Homepage
    I'm not so sure about that anymore, I recently heard Itunes is the number 2 on-line music store: http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/26/technology/itunes_walmart.ap/ [cnn.com] just behind Walmart, they can't sell this much music and not make money. Not sure about the video part though.
  • by vertigoCiel (1070374) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:14AM (#22661174)

    ...ie, your $600 toy has the CPU power of a TI-85. Enjoy playing text-mode Tetris on it, though...
    The iPhone is one of (if not the most) powerful smart phones on the market in terms of processing power. Or do you know of a smart phone that does support full Flash (not Flash Lite)? Extra points if the battery life is longer than ten minutes.

    Okay, that one doesn't even make sense. Unless it in some way requires use of the cellular-telephony-specific hardware in an iPhone, it will work "with the web", on a PC (or Mac, as the case dictates).
    He's referring to Flash Lite, which is typically used to provide a UI layer for mobile devices. It doesn't even support the most recent version of Actionscript (which has been out for almost two years). The mere idea of navigating any modern Flash website with Flash Lite makes me cringe - which is what he meant by "not capable of being used with the web."

    Once again, Master Steve turns the screws, and the fans will cry out, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"
    I do a fair amount of Flash development, and even I don't like the idea of Flash on my iPod Touch. If not having Flash on a mobile device is wrong, baby, I don't wanna be right.
  • by Kifoth (980005) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:32AM (#22661238)
    Has anyone seen Flash's Actionscript lately? AS3 is a respectable programming language (Flame away :P). Considering that Jobs never wanted an iPhone API at all, if he lets Flash on the iPhone, he'll be opening the door to a rival API that he has little control over.
  • by dwater (72834) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:41AM (#22661274)

    while the mobile version of the media player is "is not capable of being used with the web.

    Okay, that one doesn't even make sense. Unless it in some way requires use of the cellular-telephony-specific hardware in an iPhone, it will work "with the web", on a PC (or Mac, as the case dictates).
    I think he's alluding to the fact that the mobile version of flash just doesn't do the same things as the desktop version. I don't know the details, but there are significant gaps in functionality. There was a fairly recent version of flash which was more useful, on S60 at least, but, again, I don't know the technical details.

    Here [allaboutsymbian.com]'s something for you to read. Maybe it sheds some light on it.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:49AM (#22661306) Homepage Journal
    at telling me I need a new version of it.

    Requiring me to reboot my iMac to install that new version.

    I think they make the windowms machines in my house reboot out of sympathy.

    I have to agree with what you put forth. Compared to other players I have always found quicktime to be a dog, especially when embedded in a browsers
  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:09AM (#22661390) Journal
    Smarter people have blamed the atrocious coding in Adobe's flash interpreter. There's no excuse for busy-wait loops.

    -jcr
  • by fintux (798480) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:20AM (#22661430)

    The flash video codecs aren't really that cpu intensive. You once were able to download for example the youtube videos in flv format from cache.googlevideo.com/get_video?video_id=<youtube_video_id> (I tried this now, and it didn't seem to work anymore). That video could then be played with MPlayer, to mention one *. Unfortunately, MPlayer was not able to play all videos (I guess that's because flv is actually a container format, and can have several codecs). But those videos that did play, plaid with a much better performance.

    I don't really think that it is the codec that is the problem. I guess that the biggest problem is that Adobe refuses to use any of the acceleration techniques for the playback. While that probably makes the code much more portable between different architectures and operating systems, it really is a performance bottleneck.

    *) That's what the uktube of ukmplayer (http://maemo.org/downloads/product/OS2008/ukmp/ [maemo.org]) does on N8x0. It seems to do some further tricks with the url, and therefore works even though the cache.googlevideo.com doesn't work anymore.

  • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:30AM (#22661468) Homepage
    I was actually thinking mp4 [wikipedia.org] would become the next baseline standard on the web, especially since it uses H.264 as the video codec by default. But until WMP actually includes support for it it will continue to just float around. Maybe Microsoft has been slow about it because it directly competes with wmv and doesn't lock people in?
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:36AM (#22661490) Homepage Journal

    Chances are this has something to do with the X11 driver and the way Flash uses it, not Flash per-se. My Wii, which is a much poorer spec'd machine than your Pentium from the sounds of things, has no problems at all with Flash. Try the following:

    1. Install MPlayer. Make sure you install the non-free plug-ins (the Windows DLLs and stuff.) Configure and test it to make sure it can play regular videos smoothly.
    2. Go back to your webbrowser, and go to your favorite Flash video that "turns into a slideshow", and play the entire thing in your web browser (or, at least, wait for it to finish loading and hit the pause button)
    3. With your web browser still open, open a terminal window, and type "mplayer -fs /tmp/Flash*"

    The chances are that playback will be smooth as a baby's bottom. This, at least, is my experience on an 800MHz VIA C3 in my living room. "Slideshow" in the browser, "Smooth" when played with MPlayer. The problem isn't the Flash codec, it's something to do with the way Flash videos are pushed through the browser.

    Now, my N800 with OS2008 does strain a little to play a Flash video perfectly smoothly, but on the other hand it's not a bad job and it's more than acceptable.

    The CPU usage of Flash video isn't that great relatively speaking. It's just it's very easy to foul up playback.

  • GNASH: FOSS Player (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:33AM (#22661700) Homepage Journal
    Flash is Adobe's brand of "SWF", which is a documented format. SWF isn't open, but it's been reverse engineered enough that other SW can generate, edit and play it. "Flash Video" is the FLV file format, has also been reverse engineered.

    Will GNASH [wikipedia.org], the FOSS SWF player that can also play FLV, run on an iPhone? GNASH isn't as crippled as Adobe's Flash player, offering higher framerates on lower grade HW. GNASH has also been ported to run on more HW than Adobe's Flash player has. For GNASH to play FLV, it needs ffmpeg or GStreamer to run - is there a port or equivalent for iPhone?

    And if not, who will take the plunge to port this FOSS to iPhone, and make Steve Jobs for once look less than visionary?
  • by maxume (22995) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:33AM (#22662086)
    Their annual report, available here:

    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=107357&p=irol-reports [corporate-ir.net]

    doesn't break out their income by product group, but it does list $2.5 billion in sales for "Other music related products and services", and I don't see any complaints about costs in operating it, so they are probably at least breaking even.

    It could still be a loss leader of sorts, in the sense that it could have much lower margins than their other operations, which would dilute any measure that relies on total operations. This can have a negative impact on stock valuation(setting aside whether it should, the point is it can). So if they have to do $1 of 10% profitable iTunes business for every $1 of 20% profitable iPod business, from the outside, you see $2 of 15% profitable business. As problems go, not a bad one to have, but some investors think it is better to split those sorts of operations off.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:46AM (#22662194)
    For once I can say it; Steve Jobs is wrong. Slow content is better than no content, Mr. Jobs. But alas, you already knew that, because you've included the EDGE network with my iPhone.

    I am in Instructional Designer and churn out a billion flash-based products a year, some of them even targeted for cell phones. Amazing how Adobe has the insight to include preset sizes and compression schemes to fit a number of different cell phones out there -- the iPhone conspicuously not one of them.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @10:55AM (#22662900)
    Can the iphone use it flash space as VM? with 8gb or more 128 to 512 of VM space should be able to fit with out getting in the way.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @12:13PM (#22663794) Homepage

    It's not quite "exactly what the problem is."

    First, using that language implies that the iPhone is underpowered, when it'd be more true to say that Flash is a bloated resource-hog. Second, people who've researched the problem suggest that the iPhone *could* run flash, but it'd drain battery life and present other interface problems.

    The major point here is that Flash just isn't an appropriate technology for mobile devices. If you want video, h264 will provide great quality/batter-consumption (relative to other video formats). I still question whether Flash is an appropriate technology for anything, but we can discuss that at another time.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @12:34PM (#22664050) Homepage
    Um, you do realize the latest Flash Player supports h264 - right?

    Further more, if you're just using Flash for ads and video, you haven't even touched on the power that is Flash.
  • by 666999 (999666) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:38PM (#22665002)
    You're missing the point.

    H264 video decoding uses relatively little power.

    Flash uses lots of power.

    Using Flash to watch h264 on the iPhone/iPod Touch makes no sense at all when there's already native support built-in.

    Flash is a huge resource hog, like it or not, whether it's on a brand new computer or a portable device. It really needs to be optimized a lot more if Adobe expects it to be used for mobile devices, and if they/Macromedia haven't optimized it in the last 10 years they're probably not going to do it now. Focusing on adding features/more codecs/more ActionScript is only hurting its case.

    I liked the dazzle and power of Shockwave and Flash a few years back when I was making web sites with them, but soon realized that nobody could bookmark individual pages, they couldn't print properly, etc. and I began moving everything to standards-compliant setups instead. I much prefer being able to use things like awstats to find out what pages are the most popular, etc. and you just can't get that kind of clarity with Flash-based sites, which are seen as one big page to a crawler or statistics package. Just a couple of examples, there are dozens of reasons why Flash is the wrong choice for any web site.

    Flash is a kludge. There are ways to do everything with standards-compliant tools.

    You may think that Flash can do all kinds of whizzy things, but in reality it's used mainly for advertising and watching videos.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:29PM (#22665744)
    Apple is about a choice as in you have a choice to use them or not. vs. Microsoft which is them or or else... If you have noticed Apple new products (non-macs) work with both Macs and Windows systems. iPhone. iPods, Apple TV, even software for the Macbook Air that remotly access a PC's drive will run on both systems. As well OS X install disk comes with windows drivers for XP and Vista, for the Mac Hardware. Vs. Microsoft products were if you have a non windows system you generally out of luck unless the Technology has been open standard for years...

    Apple doesn't have much choice in terms of what you can do with the product, they usually target particular jobs and make sure it does thoes well. Why didn't apple include virtual screens until 10.5, Unix and Unix like systems had them for years? because they never were able to make it in a way that any user and deal with A little Icon Size box with little boxes isn't nearly as intuative as a full screen display of the windows properly shrunk down with anti-aliasing so they just look smaller vs. missing data, and allowed easy dragging and droping windows to different screens. Or why the current version of the iPhones doesn't have G3 because at the time it was designed the G3 Chip took to much power and sacrificed the iPhones job as a Phone and iPod (Long times of activity), While Edge is slow most locations allow a Wi-Fi to counteract that effect. People would be pissed with the iPhone if the battery bairly lasted a day.
  • A little OT but.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by POTSandPANS (781918) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @03:37PM (#22666700)
    Why would the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) do a story about software that does not run on a cellphone that is not even officially available for purchase in Canada?

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