ARM, Opera, former US Secretary of Labor weigh in on Apple, Adobe, and Flash

Companies and individuals as diverse as mobile chip-licenser ARM, browser-maker Opera, and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich are offering opinions on Adobe, Flash, Apple's restriction on cross-compilers, and rumors of an Adobe-prompted DOJ/FTC inquiry into Apple -- and they won't be making Adobe very happy.

ARM flat out says Adobe's Flash has held back the delivery of smartbooks (think netbooks running on smartphone-scale ARM-processors). Adobe and ARM signed a partnership in 2008 and ARM hoped Flash would be up and running by 2009, but say it's "slipped". They think we'll see it in late 2010 (though there was outcry the iPhone didn't have it in 2007, right?)

Opera, makers of Opera Mini for iPhone, believe Flash still serves a purpose but that that purpose is no longer online video:

"But flash as a video container makes very little sense for CPU, WiFi battery usage etcetera – you can cook an egg on [devices] once you start running Flash on them and there's a reason for that."

Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor meanwhile wonders why Apple's ban on the use of cross-compilers is even on the DOJ/FTC radar:

Apple’s supposed sin was to tell software developers that if they want to make apps for iPhones and iPads they have to use Apple programming tools. No more outside tools (like Adobe’s Flash format) that can run on rival devices like Google’s Android phones and RIM’s BlackBerrys.

What’s wrong with that? Apple says it’s necessary to maintain quality. If consumers disagree they can buy platforms elsewhere. Apple was the world’s #3 smartphone supplier in 2009, with 16.2 percent of worldwide market share. RIM was #2, with 18.8 percent. Google isn’t exactly a wallflower. These and other firms are innovating like mad, as are tens of thousands of independent developers. If Apple’s decision reduces the number of future apps that can run on its products, Apple will suffer and presumably change its mind.

Sounds familiar.

Steve Jobs' open letter on Flash should be a huge wakeup call for Adobe. While they're tried to play the victim for developers and complained to the government, increased adoption of H.264 and comments like these show they're beginning to lose the mindshare battle. Fortunately it looks like Adobe is also going get into making HTML5 development tools.

I'd upgrade to CS6 in a minute for that.

[ZDNet, TechRadar via 9to5Mac, Robert Reich via TUAW, TechCrunch]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

ARM, Opera, former US Secretary of Labor weigh in on Apple, Adobe, and Flash


...and for me it goes to following direction in a few years.
html5 for rookies (honestly, totally cheap animation-capabilities)
Flash for the Elite

it looks like the modern Cold War... I wonder how far this will go... for me, as a iphone, ipad user I really do not care if it is flash or html5 that would provide me animations...
I made quite few posts in my blog about the iPad, you might want to check here:

If Adobe can fix their product, then sure I'd use it. The way Flash is now? I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Fix the performance issues, crashes, and security holes then we'll talk.

Joe Hewitt had a series of twitter rants on the sunsetting of Flash. (TechCrunch summary at )
"Redirect your hatred of Flash to the W3C, whose embarrassingly slow pace forced devs to use a plugin because the standards were so weak."
"I’ve been hard on Flash, but we should all thank Macromedia/Adobe for 10 years of picking up the slack of the W3C, Microsoft, and Mozilla."
Side note for those who only know him as "the ex-Facebook guy," Hewitt knows about w3c standards. He wrote the first implementation of -- in 2001 -- and watched as HTML stagnated at 4.01 for another 9 years. This guy's frustration is well-earned, and that is why he moved on to things like Cocoa for the Facebook App.
“I want desperately to be a web developer again, but if I have to wait until 2020 for browsers to do what Cocoa can do in 2010, I won’t wait.“
"And really, how screwed would we be if the WebKit team weren’t so god damn competent? Ok, signing off now, thanks for listening. :)"
It will be interesting if, just as people hate Adobe for lockdown at the end of their 10 year service, if people will have as much vitriol for native platforms like Cocoa and Davlik 10 years down the road.

especially the security holes. Flash is totally opaque for me. Like an open window somewhere in a big house and you know there are thiefs outside waiting to get in... Let's hope our 2 big boys will come up with a solution.

Sounds like Adobe has trolls here. You Adobe faithful will be left behind, just like everyone else who refuses to accept change.
This ship is leaving, with or without you.

Adobe has trolls here? So far, there are 7 posts, including yours, and they range from virulently anti-flash to sort of agnostic. Which posts do you think are Adobe trolls? And don't include me, because I think Flash blows.

That's very true. I feel the same way about ActiveX. Both that and Flash filled in huge holes in web functionality for many years. However, like MS with IE, they became lazy in the face of no competition and instead of fixing the problems with Flash years ago, they're only now putting serious effort behind it, and much like with IE, I think it's too late.
(Real and QuickTime both tried to plug those holes before Flash, and Apple got laze with QuickTime too -- the interactive elements that Macromedia just schooled them on years later).
Hewitt's tweets were gold.

You forgot applets, though with 1 or 2 exceptions they failed so quickly and so completely that the omission is forgivable :)
IE will recover, if only because it will still be preinstalled on the vast majority of desktops. Flash's picture is a little murkier. I am not sure Adobe's sin was laziness so much as lack of vision. They focused their Flash work on the most common on-ramp to the internet (Windows), but that them completely blindsided by the rich mobile revolution, led primarily by the iPhone.
I am willing to cut Adobe a little slack for embarrassing crashes on prototypes, but with so many millions of capable phones and several platforms out there, the market will not be as patient. Adobe has one chance, maybe two, to get near flawless cross-compilers or runtimes on every non-forbidden device platform, and soon, or Flash as a preferred choice for producers will be on life support.