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Apple's Change of Heart On Flash 409

Posted by kdawson
from the platform-with-a-capital-p dept.
Dotnaught writes "In a blog post, Walter Luh, co-founder of Ansca Mobile and a former employee of both Apple and Adobe, recounts how Apple once promoted Flash on the iPhone then changed its mind because Flash didn't provide the optimal mobile user experience. 'I think that Apple came to the same conclusion I've come to — namely that Flash has its strengths, but not when it comes to creating insanely great mobile experiences,' he writes. Luh's piece ends with a pitch for mobile development using the Corona SDK, a Lua-based programming environment that strives to recapture the simplicity of early versions of Flash."
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Apple's Change of Heart On Flash

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  • Adobe Flash will die (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xororand (860319) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:07PM (#31048240)

    Adobe Flash will die rather sooner than later and it won't be missed. Now if only all browser vendors could agree on a video codec for HTML5.

    • by binarylarry (1338699) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:12PM (#31048272)

      Yep, it'll be dead and replaced by HTML5, SVG, h.264, VRML and a host of other hot new technologies!

      Oh and on the same day, Windows will lose it's marketshare position, Linus will relicense Linux under commercial terms, Richard Stallman will buy an iPad and Steve Jobs will switch to Ubuntu.

      Imagine the possibilities!

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:59PM (#31048588) Journal

        If anything, HTML5 is actually the cause that might allow pushing Linux and Firefox even further away.

        Basically the situation is currently this;

        Microsoft: H.264 for IE (and they are already licensing it in Windows 7). Will not support Theora.
        Apple: H.264 for all OS X, iPhone and iPad. Will not support Theora.
        Google: H.264 for Chrome (but not for the open source version!). May roll out their own video codec, to mix things even a little bit more.
        Mozilla: Theora for Firefox. There is no way they can use H.264 because of countless amount of open source forks. Could only possible support it in main binary Firefox, other users left without.
        Opera: Theora. Could support H.264, but wants Theora more.

        Develop a plugin that plays H.264 video inside browser to circumvent that Firefox situation? Flash already does exactly that.

        Either HTML5 Video will seriously fail and Flash will continue dominating, or the big players will use it to push Firefox and other open source browsers and Linux off the market.

        • If a plugin for Firefox appears, why will it be pushed off the market?

          And if Mozilla stands by their position (which I support), there will be an extension for it very soon.

        • by clang_jangle (975789) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:26PM (#31048766) Journal
          Neither *nix nor FF are threatened by H.264. All you need is this [sourceforge.net]. Pretty sure there's also a VLC plugin available that would do the trick as well.
        • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:28PM (#31048778) Homepage

          Nah. This isn't the first time some non-free stuff hasn't mixed well with Linux. Oil and water man.

          Let's see, there's libdvdcss, most wireless drivers until very recently, had to be fetched using some sketchy cutter tool. Flash gets fetched from gawd knows where by the flashplugin-nonfree package,
          People who use firefox or linux will tolerate a little configuration pain, even if the codec has to come from a warez server in Russia.

          I personally wish we didn't all walk into yet another propitiatory format though, because it's just history repeating itself.

        • by naz404 (1282810) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:56PM (#31048966) Homepage
          Regarding the HTML5 vs Flash video debacle, Radley Marx says it best on his blog post "Five Myths of HTML5 (vs. Adobe Flash)" [radleymarx.com]:

          The problem solved by Flash video wasnt can I show a video? Instead, Flash solved can everyone watch my video? HTML5 video doesnt provide this solution; it just adds another approach to the incompatibility pile.

          HTML5 isn't going to change things unless browser vendors agree on a common codec.

          Also, unless HTML5's video spec finds a way to implement DRM on video stream playback (which Flash does), studios and major media content providers who want to protect their content aren't going to bite on "HTML5 video".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gad_zuki! (70830)

            Right, HTML5 is a paper tiger. They'll just add a codec= field to the video tag a call it day. Some browsers will support some codecs and others will support other codecs. End users will be baffled from the start and everyone will stick with Flash.

          • It did, they have (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SuperKendall (25149)

            Flash solved can everyone watch my video?

            That is totally true. And much like Apple solved the "have to have DRM around online music sales" by being the only place to sell music (forcing studios to drop DRM in order to control price), Flash has thankfully gotten us to the point where everyone can watch video, encoded in h.264 (that's what the online flash video is almost all encoded in these days).

            Flash made a great scaffolding, but it is time to drop that scaffolding and use a solution that is more perform

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @07:14PM (#31049096) Journal

          Microsoft: H.264 for IE (and they are already licensing it in Windows 7). Will not support Theora.

          I haven't seen any official announcements on this yet. That said, the most likely approach IE will take is to just use DirectShow, which means that it'll use whatever codecs are installed on the system - H.264 is in Win7, yes, but you can always install Theora codecs.

          Google: H.264 for Chrome (but not for the open source version!).

          Isn't it both H.264 and Theora out of the box with Chrome?

          Opera: Theora. Could support H.264, but wants Theora more.

          The upcoming Opera 10.50 (which is the first stable release to come with HTML5 video support) will use GStreamer for codecs on all platforms. Which means that H.264 support can be added by the user if needed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by XPeter (1429763)

      Agreed that Flash needs to be replaced, but not with HTML 5.

      What happens to open source browsers like FF who can't pay for the patents and licenses?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dachannien (617929)

        What happens to open source browsers like FF who can't pay for the patents and licenses?

        Maybe HTML5 in Firefox should mean that I can right click and "save as". Then it won't really matter.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ultrabot (200914)

          Maybe HTML5 in Firefox should mean that I can right click and "save as". Then it won't really matter.

          You don't need to do even that. Clicking on a video could just send the file to external video player (which always has all the warez codecs you need). Actually, that's the way I want to view my video anyway, I don't want them inside the browser, crashing and hanging all over the place.

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by sopssa (1498795) *

            So basically you are implying that free and open source itself isn't a sustainable model? That to get full use of it, people should lower to piracy? That's not how FOSS model works.

          • Why would I need "warez" codecs? Mplayer plays virtually everything [mplayerhq.hu]. The rare exception will usually play in VLC. Thanks to those two I can view more than 95% of all video I wish to see. The only major exception is silverlight (netflix streaming), for which I use a stripped-down windows in VirtualBox.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        Agreed that Flash needs to be replaced, but not with HTML 5.

        What about all the browser applications written in flash? Will we just not have them?

        • by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:31PM (#31048402) Homepage Journal

          What about all the browser applications written in flash? Will we just not have them?

          ActionScript is ECMAScript with the Flash DOM. JavaScript is ECMAScript with the HTML DOM. One major point of HTML 5 is to make the HTML DOM as rich as that of Flash, in hopes that the next version of a web application will be written in JavaScript instead of ActionScript. YouTube is one of them; if you're running Safari, Chrome, or IE + Chrome Frame, you can switch it from Flash to HTML 5.

          • But will that ever happen? There are a -large- amount of web sites that aren't updated. A large amount of them use Flash. A large amount of them aren't going to give up Flash anytime soon. Look at how many sites haven't been updated since, say, 2007 or before. There are a lot of them. Now, all it takes is a few more keystrokes to update a site, its a lot harder to update an entire application.
            • by chill (34294) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:07PM (#31048632) Journal

              If you want an example, just look at ActiveX and IE6. I expect Flash to take the same route. A long, lingering, painful death.

            • by Old97 (1341297)
              There aren't many sites that can afford to dictate standards to their viewers. The ones that perhaps can, like Google's, support HTML5. Either convert to what your customers use or die. Even in intranets where you can theoretically dictate, all the companies that hardwired to IE6 and ActiveX are now regretting it. They'll learn to be more careful next time.
          • by itsdapead (734413)

            ActionScript is ECMAScript

            Actually, I think they parted company when ECMAScript 4 was shelved: For one thing, Actionscript 2 and 3 include the extra "syntactic sugar" for a pseudo-class-based syntax, so anybody who learnt AS 2 or 3 first is going to have a nice culture shock switching to propotype-based ECMAScript.

            (I feel a great disturbance in the slashdot, as if a billion advocates of prototype-based OOP cried out in anguish and... probably won't ever be silenced :-)

            Point is though, as you say, they use a totally different DO

        • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:32PM (#31048412)

          What about all the browser applications written in flash? Will we just not have them?

          With any luck!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Homburg (213427)

        What patents and licenses? From the W3C's patent policy [w3.org]:

        The goal of this policy is to assure that Recommendations produced under this policy can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis.

        Of course, anything hypothetically could be patented; but HTML5 is at least in the position that there are no known patent restrictions on implementing it.

      • Agreed that Flash needs to be replaced, but not with HTML 5.

        For general "rich internet application" stuff, moving from proprietary Flash to standards-based HTML5 (+DOM/SVG/ECMAScript) should be good news for open source. The problem is not HTML 5 per se but that the only video codec that seems to be gaining widespread support in HTML 5 is the patent-encumbered H.264.

        Newer versions of Flash look like shifting H.264 as the codec for video anyway (albeit with different packaging), so Flash vs. HTML5 is a non-issue on the video front.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)

        What happens to open source browsers like FF who can't pay for the patents and licenses?

        755 corporations have licensed H.264. AVC/H.264 Licensees [mpegla.com] It's a damned impressive list. Scrolling through it is like watching a freight train build up speed and momentum.

        While Firefox is beginning to look more and more like the heroine tied to the railroad tracks around the next bend.

        91% of Mozilla's funding comes from Google. Could open source abandon the Google train? [cnet.com] Now would be a really, really good time to put so

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MikeFM (12491)
      Flash sucks. I for one am glad not to have it on my iPhone device. It drags down my PC whenever encountered and I don't want that hell on my iPhone.
    • by Draek (916851)

      You got it wrong. IF all browser vendors could agree on a video codec for HTML5, then Adobe Flash will die. Otherwise, we'll be in the same mess we're in 10 years from now, because it's easier to rely on Flash than going back to guessing what codec the user's OS/browser combination supports.

  • "the Corona SDK, a Lua-based programming environment that strives to recapture the simplicity of early versions of Flash"

    Like... wait for it... VideoWorks?

    All Right, Yeah!

  • Flash can't work very well on a phone because it was designed for computers. Computers have an ever-present pointing device called a mouse that is used to activate many Flash elements. How do you replicate that with a pointer that only exists long enough to click on something?

    • by beakerMeep (716990) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:37PM (#31048450)
      What a strange comment, you just make larger buttons for a finger to press them. The same way all interfaces work on a mobile platforms.
    • Touch screens support every mouse action except hover. Any action that does not depend on hover can be simulated by always moving the mouse under the touch location. What actions are you talking about that depend on hover?
      • by Phroggy (441)

        Surely you've seen those absolutely horrid web sites that have nothing but a bunch of useless-looking unlabeled buttons, where an obnoxiously animated label appears only on mouseover?

        • You bring up a good point: even some web sites that have perfectly usable, labeled buttons will show a long description of the button when the user hovers. This "balloon help" or "tooltip" behavior is by no means specific to Flash. It has also existed in HTML since at least the turn of the decade, as the title= attribute [w3.org] of <a>, <abbr>, <acronym>, <img>, and most other HTML elements. If a general-purpose web browser provides no way to access the title=, the web browser is broken. By
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:28PM (#31048394)
    If Apple really cared about empowering the user in the style, manner, and spirit of their legendary 1984 commercial, they would make Flash available -- or rather allow Adobe to make it available -- on the iPhone, Touch, and iPad, and allow the user to decide which user experiences work best for them.

    Apple only cares about profits and control these days, having become the very thing they once railed against.
    • So such things as security, quality control, and the like don't mean squat on a consumer device, in your opinion? Note that the iPhone is not a computer - it just pretends to be one on occasion.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      And have the customers complain that its too slow? They wont blame flash, they will blame the device/Apple.

      Its a no-win situation for apple.

  • Control freaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heffrey (229704) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:33PM (#31048418)

    Why can't they let us decide?!

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @07:32PM (#31049226)

      They have long been a "We know what's best for you," company. They decide what experiences they want to offer the user, and the user has very little choice in the matter. They tell you what you want, you just have to go along with it. If you don't like it, you go elsewhere.

      That is one of the primary reasons I don't use Apple products. They don't offer what I want, and don't offer the ability to become what I want. So, I take my cash elsewhere.

  • by seanalltogether (1071602) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:37PM (#31048454)
    "Flash has its strengths, but not when it comes to creating insanely great mobile experiences" Nothing really creates insanely great mobile experiences, mobile is far more about functionality then experience because it is such a limiting platform. Most of our clients looking for iphone apps are trying to scale down the full experience to a limited set of core functionality that supports a sometimes connected, highly relevant, supplement to the richer web desktop/laptop experiences. As much as people want to say that HTML5 richness can keep up with Flash, I've already tried to start some benchmarks to see where the performance gaps are. http://craftymind.com/factory/guimark2/HTML5ChartingTest.html [craftymind.com] http://craftymind.com/factory/guimark2/FlashChartingTest.html [craftymind.com] To give some perspective, the iphone renders the HTML5 test at about 0.5 fps.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:43PM (#31048494) Journal

    ...security.

    Seriously - with all the active exploits out there that use Flash as a way into an operating system, I can very easily see a Flash bug being exploited to bust right through the iPhone's 'walled garden' setup (what with it's default root password and all...)

  • by DrXym (126579) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:54PM (#31048566)
    Is one where everyone buys their content through Apple's store. That's it.

    It's no wonder that Flash which acts as a gateway to a mass of free content from across the world might be considered "non optimal". After all, Apple has to think of the poor consumers who would be "confused" by all the choice that countless non-Apple alternatives would cause.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:55PM (#31048570)

    apple likes it lock down and lock in app store and free flash games are bad for that.

  • I somewhat understand Apple's position, but if Skyfire can do flash on shitty windows mobile devices then it can be done on the iphone. I still can't believe after the mp3 patent fiasco that we don't have widely accepted open music and video codecs. I already don't run bloated Apple software on my computer I can't wait to file Adobe in the same cabinet I put Realplayer and Quicktime in.

  • by sohp (22984)

    So, Lua, hmm. Maybe all those hours I spent writing addons for World of Warcraft weren't entirely wasted. Just mostly.

  • I like what little insight this article provides into the issue of flash on the iPhone, but it's really not substantive enough to warrant posting here on Slashdot. What does stand out, is how much of an advertising pitch this is for Corona. I'm sure it's fantastic, but the first part of the piece seemed, to me, to simply be an advertising lead-in.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:51PM (#31048930) Homepage

    The true reason why Apple won't allow Flash to run on the iPad is the same as the reason why they won't allow any standalone emulators into the App Store: it doesn't want software running on these platforms that they haven't specifically approved. Everything else is just them rationalizing their basic prohibition on virtual machines.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @10:40PM (#31050122) Journal

    There's only one reason why there's no Flash or Java on the iPhone - because you wouldn't be forced through the app store if they had either of them (unless they crippled them extensively like they were thinking about with Flash until people started pointing out - "uh, if the flash experience is the problem, why will you let the flash experience run on the iPhone only we still have to go through the app store?" - LOL ) and you wouldn't need Apple's development machines and environment to write software for it. If they could somehow get away with not implementing HTML5 (which they can't) you could rest assured it wouldn't be on the iPhone/iPad/iWhatever either.

    I can't believe the number of people who lap up this Apple drivel - flash experience is poor? LOL, I wonder how it managed to get such huge market penetration and basically pervade every aspect and corner of the web - oh, I guess because it's crap, right Apple?

  • by djupedal (584558) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @11:25PM (#31050312)

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