Adobe retracts incorrect statements about OS X Lion Flash performance

Georgia really wants Flash support on the iPad, with the option to toggle it on and off as she so chooses, and I've said in the past I'd like a Flash Player app (Flash is technically more than just video, but 90% of the time people talk about wanting Flash they just want their videos.) But [stuff] like this really makes me question if I even want that. When OS X Lion debuted earlier this week, Adobe quickly blasted off a blog post saying Apple had killed hardware acceleration and Apple was to blame for poor Flash performance in Lion.

And fair enough. It's not like Apple provided a beta process, with a preview release in early June and a GM candidate several weeks ago. It's not like major developers like Adobe didn't have time or opportunity to get the beta, get it running on as many Macs as possible, and figure out any issues before the public release. Except they did. Three developer previews, and perhaps more given Apple's tradition of working closely with big software

The final release of Mac OS X Lion (10.7) provides the same support for Flash hardware video acceleration as Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6). The previous “Known Issue” described in a tech note suggesting that video hardware acceleration was disabled in Lion was incorrect and based on tests with a pre-release version of Mac OS X Lion that related to only one particular Mac GPU configuration. We continue to work closely with Apple to provide Flash Player users with a high quality experience on Mac computers.

"A" pre-release version, "only one particular Mac GPU configuration"?! And based on that they blast Apple in a blog post that gets wide pick up? Nice.

The retraction is classy but Adobe's failed to innovate or improve Flash for much of the last decade. It's the IE6 of plugins. In 2007 people complained about the lack of Flash on the iPhone and blamed Apple -- when there was no version of Flash that could run on the iPhone. Now, 4 years later, there's still no decent Flash for mobile, only various levels of beta that work only for Flash video, and even then are hit and miss at best (PlayBook and TouchPad both have serious firepower behind them and even they don't approach a consistently great user experience for Flash.)

So either the Flash technology is great and deserves to continue, and is just taking longer than anyone would like to get there, or it was a proprietary filler, like ActiveX, that was clumsy but useful, and has reached its limits. Either way, my advice to Adobe remains the same -- shut up. Stop bitching, stop blogging, and ship a great version of Flash for mobile. And for Mac. You've had a decade for the latter and almost half that for the former.

[Adobe blog]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Adobe retracts incorrect statements about OS X Lion Flash performance

48 Comments

And Steve Jobs has spent the last several years attacking Flash so yeah let's get that right on his products... Uum not! Look I am a graphic designer by trade and as much as I USED to love the Mac platform, fact is it's fallen behind using Adobe CS tools like Illustrator and InDesign. Fireworks? Not even open for debate as it is worthless on the Mac. I have a 27" iMac so I wish it was different. But I keep a Dell Xeon class Precision T5500 just to use my Adobe tools.
It's a shame because the Mac used to dominate desktop publishing and graphics. In Apple's rush to make the ultimate consumer experience machines they forgot the core audience that kept them alive in the 80's and 90's. I don't see Lion improving on that.

Isn't it Adobe that started pulling away. After the Macromedia purchase, and then again in response to Final Cut Pro buy completely pulling Premiere (though guess it's back). They became large & thought they would focus on the larger PC audience since average consumers were paying premiums to have what was at one time designer software such as Photoshop. I do this work for a living as well and I'm not sure how everyone affords Adobe. I used to think Quark was the biggest pain in the arsss--now Adobe has come from behind (intended).

Yes Adobe pulled some support from the Mac as it was a losing platform for their business. I watched as desktop publishing made a rapid gallop away from Mac because it was too cost prohibitive. Guess what... It still is. To outfit a Mac Pro equal to my Dell 5500 is outrageously expensive, well over $1700 per unit more in up front cost. I'm no fan of Dell by the way. But the company bought it so he who signed the check gets to pick the groceries. As my IT Manager has told everyone here, he can keep these machines running for the next 3 years for the difference in cost to buy alone. I just do not see Apple's now 'legendary' build quality being worth that. Figure in bulk licensing for 33 workstations and you are starting to get the idea.
I also don't use Premiere as it's often a resource hog. But that is to be expected with video editing at the level I work with. At my work we use Avid. Much more stable and a smaller footprint in the OS background as well.

great arguments against flash. and i totally agree. flash sucks. plain and simple. but, unfortunately, there's a LOT of websites that use it. and, even though, Rene, you have good arguments against flash, there's still absolutely NO reason to NOT support these beta versions of Flash for mobile on the iPhone. i've send it before, and i'll say it again, and again, if i want to go to a site with a flash video, it is MY CHOICE. let me see the damn video. this limits my experience, and when apple is all about the experience, this (kind of) makes it an issue.

Actually there are plenty of reasons for Apple not to put Flash on the iPad/iPhone (to say nothing of the fact that as a general rule, Apple is just not going to start cramming "beta" versions of anything onto their devices, and rightly so). The primary reason, though, is that in doing so, Apple would effectively extend the life of Flash on the Internet, and for real progress to be made with HTML5 and other related technologies, Flash needs to die ASAP (at the very least, for serving simple video content). By providing support for Flash, Apple would become an enabler for all those sites out there that are too lazy, clueless, or backwards-looking to upgrade their sites to fully standard Web technologies. It's like if you had a family member who was a severe alcoholic, and you had two choices: 1) keep supplying him with bottles of rum 2) encourage him to get into a rehab program. Apple putting Flash on iOS devices would be like the "bottles of rum" approach; perhaps "easier" in the short run, less near-term pain, but in the long run, continued misery and heartache for everyone involved. Better to just kick the Flash habit now.

We [developers] are ready for the video tag to handle simple videos. As soon as browsers make up their mind and standardize...adoption will increase. Until then, enjoy your drunk Uncle Flash. ;-)

Georgia: you are insane if you want Flash on your iPad/iPhone. And Apple will never put it there in any event. Flash is an outdated, inefficient, bug-ridden bag of security vulnerabilities that no longer serves any useful purpose on the modern Internet. Apple made the right decision not to allow this garbage on their iOS devices. Flash needs to go the same place where pet rocks, mood rings, and the floppy drive now reside: oblivion.
And anyway, you don't really want "Flash" on your iPad; what you really want is for all of the video that you encounter on the Internet to play back on your iPad, which is a perfectly reasonable expectation. However, instead of directing your anger at your iPad when you encounter Flash video that won't play, you should instead direct it at the operator of the site in question. Send them a complaint e-mail and ask: why do you insist on serving video using this outdated technology that requires an inefficient, proprietary client-side plug-in, when non-proprietary options are readily available that produce video that is viewable in any modern, standards-based browser on any platform, without the need for a third-party browser plug-in? Why are you willfully excluding millions of mobile devices from viewing your content? Particularly when mobile devices are becoming an increasing large percentage of all Internet-connected devices?
It is not just iOS devices that cannot display Flash content, but also millions of Blackberry and Android devices, particularly those with older versions of the OS that do not support Flash. Said content is also not viewable by desktop users who wish to maintain some semblance of a secure browsing environment by not installing the Flash plug-in, which is notoriously ridden with security holes, in addition to being a resource hog.
Bottom line: any provider who publishes video content using Flash exclusively in this day and age is fundamentally lazy and/or incompetent. Period. Send them your hate mail.

Way off.
Do you build sites? Have you ever hosted video files or managed a live event?
Try it with HTML5 then come back and post here again.
The video world doesn't revolve around the iPad...trust me. Video is what I do.

So the vast multitude of sites that I visit on a regular basis that serve full-motion video perfectly fine without requiring me to install the Flash plugin on my client are all performing some sort of amazing technological miracle, are they?
And once again: this not just about the iPad. There are millions of non-iOS devices out there that do no run Flash, and never will. You're foolish if you build sites that do not allow you to serve these devices.

I bet you're watching very simple VOD. Ping back when you're watching something with DRM requirements or a massive live stream w/ millions of simultaneous viewers. Then let's talk.
The so-called "millions" of devices don't outnumber the devices that do have Flash. PC's [and Mac's] are by far the most devices around. 95%+ support Flash. I think my clients have chosen the right tech.

Sure, and simple VOD is exactly what 99% of the general populace needs when they are just casually surfing around the Internet and want to play an embedded video clip here and there.
And sure, those millions of devices do not (yet) outnumber PCs/Macs, but they represent by far the fastest-growing segment of Internet-connected devices. People's usage of the Internet is skewing increasingly away from the traditional desktop and towards mobile devices.

@MV [seems we reached the reply limit]
I agree, devices are growing by leaps and bounds but 19 out of 20 makers of these devices are adding Flash. #20 is Apple. See where I'm going here? :-D
I also agree with simple VOD being what a lot of people are watching [far from 99% but ok]. No one is foolish enough to think HTML5 won't serve that segment. Adobe is even working well with HTML5 and video [not shunning it], watch my blog in a few weeks [month, maybe] and you'll see what I mean.
If HTML5 had an easy cross-browser implementation [one file for all browsers], it would already start with better adoption but with so many issues it isn't as easy as "drop this swf embed code here, give it this one file to play". Until it is as easy as that...HTML5 will be a niche used for iOS devices and coupled with Flash for web viewing [meaning Flash w/ HTML5 fallback or vice versa].

But the problem is, those 19 device makers are just getting crushed by #20 in terms of units sold/market share, particularly in the tablet space, which is where I personally believe most "normal" people are going to be doing the majority of their web browsing in the not-too-distant future.
Furthermore, "adding" Flash is not necessarily the same thing as "getting Flash to run worth a damn on most existing content while also not simultaneous destroying the battery life of my device". :-)
It's also interesting to me that all the non-Apple makers of tablets have pretty much hung their marketing hat on "WE RUN ADOBE FLASH!!!", and the result so far has been: they are all getting steamrolled by the iPad. My takeaway from this is: most "normal" people do not give a crap about running Flash, per se.
In any event, I would be very interested to read your upcoming blog post re: HTML5 for web video playback.

iPad had a year head start so you're comparing, roughly, 6 months of other tablets to 18 months of the iPad. iPhone shot out the gate and ruled the marketshare world but now only rule the profit category, due to Android.
I will hedge my bet on the iPad going the same way as Android tablets are flying off the shelves [as a whole, not one single one].
Actually battery life isn't bad when you use Flash. I use it for simple videos here/there and my Evo actually maintains just fine.
Normal people want their content...that's it. Since most web video uses Flash, people want it on the iPad. That's all. Let HTML5 grow some more [2-3 years, wild guess] and the debate will be a non-issue.
Grab my RSS. Once I'm free to post, I will.

Well, even if you ignore the iPad's first year of sales, and look, say, at just at the most recent quarter when they were a number of Android and other tablet competitors available on the market, the iPad still crushed all the competition in sales, quite handily in fact.
Personally, I think the analogy to the mobile handset market is a poor one, since the latter is a highly "imperfect" market due to factors like two-year contracts with prohibitive ETFs and carrier handset exclusively. I think the growth of Android handsets was aided greatly, especially early on, by the non-availability of the iPhone on three of the four major US carriers for several years. Basically, even today, you can't just walk into any store and buy the phone you like best and use it freely on the carrier of your choice.
Contrast this with the tablet market, which is pretty close to a "perfect" market, since anyone can just walk into any Best Buy, look at the various tablets offered for sale, and pick out the one he/she likes best. In this freely competitive sales situation, people are choosing the iPad by an enormous margin.
A more appropriate analogy is probably the MP3 player market (also a "perfect" market), where Apple established a dominant position early, and maintained it for years to come, despite the efforts of a whole host of competitors trying to knock them off the top of the heap.

Good argument on the markets. I'll agree with the AT&T lock affecting the landscape. That's definitely true.
iPad will prob stay king for quite a while. Consider the top two Android tablets [XOOM/Galaxy Tab 10.1, IMO] both launched with shortcomings [no sd support/LTE, etc] I don't see a major shift for at least two more versions but it will shift.
Understand I thought the iPhone would rule forever and was wrong so I'm not great at this market guessing. :-D

I agree that html5 fallback for video is needed now a days and is easy to implement with the proper tools. However Flash serves its purpose still for a ton of things, is easier to implement than html5 and is very secure. Flash works through sandboxing, it almost cannot get more secure than that. I have developed enough Flash apps to say that you are spewing a load of bs. Its a solid code base thats better than javascript in clean code wise. Do you want to boot javascript as well? thats even less secure imo.
Get your shit together before commenting with this bs.

The minute software goes live people start hacking away at it. This is why Apple just released security fixes for iOS 4.
Part of the game.

Rene - Amen. Perhaps we would then be rid of the near-incessant drumbeat of installed Adobe products begging the user to please allow them to update themselves in order to plug the most recently discovered security hole. Yes, I'm looking at you, Adobe Flash. And also at you, Adobe Reader. :-)

@MV You're hilarious. Did you get the latest Mac security fix from a couple weeks [month?] ago? I did. How about the recent iOS fix? Security holes are everywhere dude. Be happy Adobe fixes things at a pretty fast speed.
@rene Do you mean JS interaction with swfs and PDFs?

@John C. Bland II It'd be hilarious if it wasn't also so true. I realize that everything needs the occasional security patch now and again. But the Adobe products stand out from the crowd as by far the most frequently-pleading "please update me! I'm dangerous!" software components installed on my systems. Reader, in particular, is an absolute joke in this regard. So annoying... I should really just switch over to Foxit Reader or something for PDF viewing anyway, since Adobe's Reader has become such a monstrously bloated piece of crap.

@MV I can't comment on your experience with updates. I only get one every now and then.
But...I'm also an update fiend. I enjoy frequent updates from any software. I don't care if it is security, minor bug fixes, or major upgrades. :)

I agree with Georgia. I want my Flash! It's fustrating when I cannot access something because my iPhone does not support Flash. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, it was Apple combining a phone with an iPod and a browser. The browser is a core feature of the iPhone and the iPad. Tablet's are great for watching videos or browsing the web, but with the iPad not supporting Flash, it really limits the user experience.
I do own a Playbook and have yet to encounter a problem. I am sure that the Flash experience is not perfect, but I would rather have it work most of the time with some rare exceptions than with no Flash at all.

I had a Rosetta stone account that I rarely used partly because it was flash based, and my next online college course uses flash elements...no flash can be frustrating, and is holding up my iPad purchase

No innovation in a decade? Come on Rene. I expect you to do better than that. Didn't you say you used to do Flash work?
Flash is the best video experience on the web with closed captions, variable bitrate, dvr, etc. Nothing else can touch it with a ten foot pole and none of it existed as it currently does less than 6 years ago.
It is insane how you take a retraction as a chance to knock Flash. If they didn't respond, you would have complained about that too.
Let it go dude.

I realize your article about Apple innovating and going legal fell on deaf ears since most comments said they weren't.
I see what you did here. Kudos on the slight of hand.

And everybody is whining at flash, adobe products etc. What a load of bull. Fact is they made and still make great products. The fact that they retracted the message is a good thing isnt it? It means that its only a bug, id rather have a bug than a apple vs adobe war where the desktop macs suffer due to apple killing off hardware support.
What i dont get is why this article makes everyone go flash sucks, adobe products are shit etc. Flash is still a good plugin and adobe products are still great. Stop complaining every chance you get at a company and rather see the positive in this. So they tested on a pre release version, its only been out for 2 days or someing. For fuck sake.

I see you read the same blogs I read. Those words sound familiar. Lol.
Post-PC is great but Flash will be there. Adobe is all over both (Flash and HTML5) and HTML5 will take its place but will not push Flash out.

@reneritchie I agree, it wasn't meant to be all of this but it evolved. It is pretty segmented right now though. Not many people [there are some] are building web apps with it any longer. It is namely games and video work out there.
HTML5 is going to do wonders for the web world when it is ready. I welcome its growth and presence.

Agreed. Show us your work and let's see how well you excelled at using Adobe. Like it or not it is the standard by which all other programs of this nature are judged. Oh and as for the GUI and file system being a source of the problems with CS4, 5, 5.5 and probably 6 on the Mac... That is how software is done you know. The middle ware is the base that gets ported and the GUI and file system is written for the specific platform. It just so happens that Adobe made a conscious decision around CS3 to focus on the most widely used platform for their software.

The problem that I have with people who are against flash on iOS is this: I have adobe flash on my HTC Thunderbolt, and my Motorola Xoom, and it works very well. It isn't perfect, but it definitely works well. I also have an IPad 2 and IPhone 4....why would the same flash tech not work well with the IPad 2 and Iphone? Why not at least give customers who actually want a full web browsing experience the option to turn flash on or off? When I am using my IPad 2, and I can't view a web page or particular video because of the lack of flash....i have to go to my trusty android phone, or Motorola Xoom, or to a computer to view it. Why is that ok, when adobe flash works well on most current android devices?

Like a person said in reply to Rene earlier... If it is so shoddy and bug ridden, as Apple fanatics claim because Steve Jobs said so, stop using it. Like on this site for example. It's loaded with Flash. Oh and I hate to be the one to announce this, but so is Apple's own site. Flash is all over it too.

I don't like the idea of Flash on the iPhone. Mobile Safari is already limited as it is, why go and cripple the browser with software they forgot to debug before deploying?

Maybe from your experience, but from my own, Flash is nothing but trouble, especially on my 64-bit OS.

They somewhat did. Flash 9 [I think] had a lot of revamps [ticked some developers off]. The problem is it still supports Flash 2 swfs [maybe 1]. Looking forward while maintaining backwards compat' is a beast.
Apple knows this and by nixing backwards compat' [at least enforcing more recent hardware] they could pull off Lion or iOS upgrades but without they couldn't have.
A rewrite would be sweet but the millions of sites using a Flash 6 swf would be enraged. :-D