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Cellphones Technology

Jobs Says Flash Video Not Suitable for iPhone 387

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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  • Not surprised (Score:5, Informative)

    by nighty5 ( 615965 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:20AM (#22660940)
    Frankly, flash / shockwave totally sucks on OS X. Its a CPU hog which affects battery, when I run any flash CPU spikes to 100%.

    It's not to say its Apple's fault, but I think Adobe is at fault and I think their position won't change in any time soon.
  • cf. the N800/810 (Score:5, Informative)

    by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:24AM (#22660966) Journal
    ...which has Flash 9 fully implemented.

    It works, and you can watch video with it, and with OS2008 it isn't half bad. But Flash is either on or off, and some abuses of flash can really slow down your web experience (e.g., try loading page full of flash video ads).

    So, yes, you can get Flash on a mobile device (the n800 has an Arm9 @400 MHz, while the iPhone's processor runs at 620), but not a 100% reliable effort-free flash. Also, considering the iPhone's screen resolution, Flash would really suck on it.
  • Makes sense (Score:2, Informative)

    by 427_ci_505 ( 1009677 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:28AM (#22660984)
    Running on a late 2003 vintage amd64, Flash video spikes processor usage in linux (debian-64, with wrappers to make it work). The same computer plays much higher quality divx using a much smaller amount of resources just fine.

    So mostly, flash just sucks for this purpose. But I doubt that is the only reason why Jobs says this.
  • Re:youtube, anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zelos ( 1050172 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:34AM (#22661014)
    IIRC, the iPhone plays Youtube videos converted to H264 using a native client, not Flash video.
  • by ronin510 ( 1113835 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:41AM (#22661042)
    Have you used the iPhone? I listen to audio podcasts and watch videos directly through the Safari browser. Any website can provide such files without having Apple as a proxy.

    Sure, there's the special YouTube application. What it basically does is link to h.264 converted videos, but as I said, any website can provide videos in that format. Having videos play via h.264 benefits iPhone users, and standards enthusiasts, actually. The iPhone has a dedicated h.264 chip to more efficiently decode such files. This is a much more energy efficient solution compared to decoding flash videos through software. So in truth, the "performance standard" you mock is a reality.
  • Re:youtube, anyone? (Score:-1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:41AM (#22661044)
    youtube re-encoded their videos with Quicktime H.264 for iPhone and AppleTV support
  • Re:youtube, anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AceJohnny ( 253840 ) <> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:09AM (#22661150) Journal
    Flash video (flv) is a container around codecs, like AVI, OGG, and even MPEG is. The codec typically used in Flash is by On2 [], I believe. I guess Jobs is complaining about Adobe's mobile implementation of the decoder.

    However, Adobe recently added support for H.264 in Flash. H.264 is more widespread and there are hardware-accelerated implementations for it in the mobile field. Youtube has started supporting that codec as well (add &fmt=6 at the end of video URL to try, if that video has been converted)

    Hell, I worked on a mobile chip which includes MPEG4 and H264 encode/decode acceleration, which has been included in a recently announced Nokia smartphone [], and I can confirm that On2 aren't accelerated (and Microsoft's VC1, used in DVB-H, is only partly accelerated), and thus have to run on the ARM core, at the expense of higher power consumption.
  • by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:40AM (#22661264) Homepage Journal
    Because the iPhone is downloading the H.264 vids direct from YouTube's site, rather than playing them in a flash-based player. ;)
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:42AM (#22661276)
    "I recently heard Itunes is the number 2 on-line music store: [] just behind Walmart, they can't sell this much music and not make money."

    Correction. According to the article you reference, they are the number 2 music retailer, full stop. The are the clear number one in the online market, they just also happen to be so big that they have surpassed all the traditional retailers except Wal-Mart.

    Your conclusions are surely right, however. I'm convinced that the notion that the iTunes store is a loss-leader for iPods is a myth or at best outdated information. The iTunes store surely makes money on it's own at this stage.
  • Re:cf. the N800/810 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yokaze ( 70883 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:45AM (#22661290)
    > the iPhone's processor runs at 620

    The iPhone's arm11 runs at 412MHz (before firmware 1.1.2 at 400MHz). Theoretically, it could run with 620MHz, but it doesn't.

  • Re:Analysis (Score:4, Informative)

    by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:46AM (#22661294) Homepage Journal
    That's Flash Lite, the mobile version of Flash that Jobs was referring to.

    It, in a nutshell, is worthless.
  • Re:Not surprised (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:57AM (#22661342)
    Some fingers have been pointed at the Safari plugin API.
  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:18AM (#22661424) Homepage Journal
    Steve is lying and so are you.
    I use an LG Viewty KU990 touchscreen phone based on Flash.
    I use customized handset themes for it to make it act like fully 3D.
    Nowhere did i find it slower than iPhone.

    Flash is easier to do beautiful interactive elements. True.
    Flash is awful for playing videos. True.

    Flash as UI for phones. Great, because it is thin, light and simply works.
  • by Zelos ( 1050172 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:39AM (#22661498)
    I assume that's Flash Lite [], which (as I understand it) is not the same as the general Flash you get on the internet. It's specifically designed and optimised for mobile applications.
  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:29AM (#22661676)
    It's because they have specific hardware acceleration for H.264, just like all other iPods. They don't have that for generic Flash, and the general ARM CPU isn't good enough to use the current interpreter.
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:30AM (#22661684) Homepage Journal
    Interesting theory, and makes sense since MPlayer will be configured to use the best available screen access library, whether that be direct framebuffer, or various other possibilities (I am not an expert).

    Using the standalone flash player in Windows, or even a plugin for a viewer like IrfanView, works better than the flash plugin in a browser and I can think of several reasons because for the plugin:

    - Rest of the screen handled by browser rendering, which is unlikely to use anything close to framebuffer / direct hardware access and very likely to use standard API calls to the window manager
    - Requirement to have interactivity - clickable links, rollover actions, etc
    - May require transparency with content underneath visible, so can't be done using an overlay
    - Code covers vector graphics, etc which can be overlayed on video content too

    So voilà, it's not just about the plugin being "bad", but that it has way less chance of using the most efficient video delivery method. MPlayer is just pulling out the FLV content, which is not the same as the SWF container + buffering code + FLV content sitting in a page which it may need to interact with and cover other issues.
  • by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:12AM (#22661936)
    I'm the same. Ever since I got my Nokia E90 I've never found it necessary to use my (Apple) laptop. The E90 has pretty much everything I need. I can certainly find cause to criticise it, but it's pretty much there and is a good laptop replacement for trips/etc.

    The E90 has 3G, GPS, wifi, quickoffice and adobe pdf, a 3.2M pixel camera that does video as well as stills, a real web browser (using it now), and a real qwerty keyboard (in addition to the regular phone one). There're also plenty of 3rd party apps I can install (including my own) such as one that plays the flash video from youtube -and plays it just fine too.
    It's quite an old device now (pre-dates the iPhone - Apple's that is), but it's still quite functional. Certainly not a sexy though.
  • Re:Not surprised (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:39AM (#22662126)
    They open sourced it, it's called tamarin, and is actually damn impressive. You can criticize a lot of things about adobe and flash, but the avm (tamarin) is not one of them.
  • by Khuffie ( 818093 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @10:40AM (#22662760) Homepage
    Here you go []
  • by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @12:03PM (#22663684)
    It does have wifi, but wifi isn't everywhere.
    Additionally, most flash is bandwidth intensive.
  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @12:13PM (#22663788)
    I too hate the quicktime updates because of the reboots.
    However, I now understand why it needs a reboot...
    Quicktime (not the player) is OS Xs video rendering subsystem (which works in conjunction with Quartz and OpenGL, one is for 2d, the other for 3d). Updating one of OS X's core systems is what requires a restart.

Loose bits sink chips.