iPhone, iPad Don't Support ActiveX Either

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I've mentioned a couple times already, given the recent flare-up in the discussion about iPad and iPhone not supporting Flash, that not so long ago you had a hard time using any browser other than IE6 because of another proprietary plugin -- Microsoft's ActiveX. Times change, though, and these days Firefox, Safari, and Chrome users seldom if ever come across the big red X. It's possible Flash and its blue lego block will soon be likewise optional on major sites.

Scobleizer draws the same analogy:

Let’s go back a few years to when Firefox was just coming on the scene. Remember that? I remember that it didn’t work with a ton of websites. Things like banks, e-commerce sites, and others. Why not? Because those sites were coded specifically for the dominant Internet Explorer back then.

Some people thought Firefox was going to fail because of these broken links. Just like Adobe is trying to say that Apple’s iPad is going to fail because of its own set of broken links.

But just a few years later and have you seen a site that doesn’t work on Firefox? I haven’t.

What happened? Firefox FORCED developers to get on board with the standards-based web.

The same thing is happening now, based on my talks with developers: they are not including Flash in their future web plans any longer.

I work in web development and just did a major site redesign for an international company. It went from a lot of Flash, to no Flash. Why? Marketing wanted a site that would be more easily viewed on BlackBerrys and iPhones.

Daring Fireball drives this home:

Flash is no longer ubiquitous. There’s a big difference between “everywhere” and “almost everywhere”. Adobe’s own statistics on Flash’s market penetration claim 99 percent penetration as of last month. That’s because, according to their survey methodology, they’re only counting “PCs” — which ignores the entire sort of devices which have brought about this debate. Adobe is arguing that Flash is installed on 99 percent of all web browsers that support Flash, not 99 percent of all web browsers.

Used to be you could argue that Flash, whatever its merits, delivered content to the entire audience you cared about. That’s no longer true, and Adobe’s Flash penetration is shrinking with each iPhone OS device Apple sells.

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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iPhone, iPad Don't Support ActiveX Either

68 Comments

I'm becoming more and more convinced that Flash will never make it to the iPhone OS, and had you asked me 12 months ago if that was a good or bad thing I'd have said "bad". Now I'm changing my mind a bit, it's not outright "good" that Flash will likely never see it's day on iPhone OS, but with standards like HTML5 on our doorstep it makes we wonder if Flash is ever realy going to be needed... and when thinking about it, I don't access many sites on my iPhone that require Flash.

I still include Flash development as a small part of my services. But, I always do my best to talk clients out of it. Most of the time, the "mobile site" explanation does the trick. But when clients insist on Flash, developers should at least use alternate content to avoid the blue legos.
Flash is a menace.

@fastlane: I still do some Flash dev but only for stuff like animation. I used Flash to make the Zero Punctuation parodies for the Smartphone Round Robin, for example. Then I converted them to H.264 MP4 and uploaded them to YouTube...

To be honest with everyone, this whole flash argument is getting our of hand, yeah flash can do some good things but who really needs it anymore just let go and move on, or do you flash supporters all listen to music on tape cassettes on your walkman's, and ride in horse and carriages, or have you moved with the times?
I have owned iPhones now since day one and use my phone for 90% of my day to day browsing and have never missed flash, at first I thought I needed it but quickly realised I could quite easily live without it.
Things change, technology changes (fast), times change and people change, all because something is right for now it might not be tommorrow.
Innovate, adapt and accept new things, you never know you might even enjoy it!

Please, let me all remember that Apple always knows what's doing, it was the same with the iPhone, at the beginning, everyone was sceptic, know, look at the huge success the phone has made. Now, 2 months for a release is a huje Window to make improovments to The os, not that will support flash, but will at least support some form of multitasking. Don't forget, there may be allways the possibility to jailbreak it and have the best of both worlds.

Flash is overused, no question about it, but it is still the best tool for the job for many things. Aside from games like Farmville and whole-game sites like Webkinz, the principal thing it would be missed for on the iPad is web video. To hasten Flash's demise, all Apple needs two technical improvements, and one legal one. Technically, Apple needs to:
1) Release development tools on par with Flash. Of course, this does not have to be Apple, but Flash, whatever its faults, has an excellent development environment for browser-based games. Eventually, native browser capabilities will close the gap in a threshold percentage of browsers, but Farmville type games will still choose Flash because there are complete development environments with a low threshold of entry. For something as simple and fundamental to games as keyframe animation, CSS/JS toolkits have nothing even remotely comparable. Yes, it is possible, but for the types of complexity games often demand, it is still far more cumbersome, which seduces businesses into developing in Flash.
2) Come up with a better ad and streaming solution. I am not a huge fan of ads, but I recognize where they are necessary to pay the bills, and, like it or not, Flash video has a better story for DRM and for Ads, especially with regards to streaming video. The Hulus and ABCs of the world will be reluctant to switch while that revenue stream is not as well defined; once they do, they will likely jump fast.

@_mark:
Closed architecture? No USB? I was ready to not buy one - until you said "Girl toy."
'nuff said.

Most importantly, legally, Apple has to:
3) Free the h264 codec. This is not talked about nearly enough, but the success of the tag depends entirely on pain-free cross-browser support. Right now, Firefox and Opera will not support it as long as the MPEG-LA group demands a license and/or payment for encoded content. Opera may be statistical white noise, but is not going to reach Scobelizer's tipping point if some video tags work only in Chrome and Safari, and some video tags work only in Firefox. Content producers are not going to encode everything twice, in h264 and theora, (not to mention streaming) just to satisfy duelling browsers. They'll stick with Flash until the smoke clears, or at least far longer than they otherwise would.
Mozilla is not going to change (See http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roc/archives/2010/01/activexallove.html ); they will stand firm on free video codecs for the same reason they stood firm on ActiveX in 1999, a decision which benefited us all, and which lead to the timeline Scobelizer and Gruber both mention. If Apple wants to kill Flash/make iPad see web video, they need to pressure the rest of their MPEG-LA group to drop royalty demands. Nothing will stop faster than cross-browser pain, and nothing will kill Flash faster that universal support. Your move, Apple. Please free it up and solve all our problem.

Eh... There's no alternative to Flash for streaming video on the web, unless I'm totally mistaken. No flash = no BBC iPlayer on the iPad - fail :-(

@_Melissa since you're a girl who probably just wants to use it to buy things and look at pretty pictures on it, good for you!
But to consider it a serious tool of any kind is laughable!

there's no alternative to cool RIA tools like PREZI either!
Flash Actionscript is #1 in web programming. SUMOPAINT TOO.

@Orion2021
Thanks!
Further to my previous comment, I must add that although I love my iPhone and will most likely get an ipad at some point, apple does need to not only keep up with but stay ahead of the competition, this I suppose rests on the shoulders of the next iPhone and what it brings to the table, as iPods in the traditional sense die out and make way for more multifunction 'convergence' devices, apples money now rests on the shoulders of the iPhone platform and if they do not bring something special this year they will be left behind!
People are fickle (espescially in gadgetland!) and only stay loyal for so long, before looking for something new.
As a wise man once said:
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

I'll be using Sumopaint on my Multitouch Hp Slate. While you iPad guys will be using ????????
HAHAHA! Thought so.

Ipad doesn't have flash because apple don't want to consume at&t bandwidth with flash videos and flash games and so on....

I didn't say that flash is behind the times and I also admitted it can do a few good things, but things do move on it called evolution, eventually new technologies come and overtake the old not always rightly so, but that the way it goes.
Flash serves it's purpose but that won't stop other technologies biting at it's heels and overtaking, otherwise I would still have a Betamax for movies!
But progress happens wether we like it or not, enjoy the ride, go with the flow like twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream!
(Sorry been warning too many John Hughes films lately!)

Like I said before flash is going, going, gone. Useless nobody cares. It's not going to be on the iPhone or the ipad or any device apple makes now or in the future. I believe there will be multitasking in the next update. To shut people up about it. As it all over the apple forums.
@Melissa what do you need USB on the ipad for? Just curious why people keep asking that. I can see complaining about a front facing camera not being on the ipad. That wouldve been sweet but I could care less about it.

There are alternatives folks. Quit drinking the Apple Kool-Aid fanboys.
I had my hopes up for this product soo much myself. But no multitasking? No Flash? BASIC FEATURES ON ALL COMPUTERS. You don't have to drink through this tiny apple straw folks. But I guess you guys will do it for the pretty little interfaces.

We don't need anything. Usb,camera,mutitask,os,flash etc etc etc. With ipad (or gameboy), apple is turning us back in time at 90-s years

Sorry but my memory gets worse by the day keep forgetting say stuff!
@Andy Wilson
BBC iplayer works fine on the iPhone I watch it in the bath! (or the tub as you Americans might say!)
So I can only conclude that iplayer will also work on the ipad, though not in the bath though it's too big and I might drop it!
And remember:
"Mess with bull and you get the horns!"

@_mark
if you had any knowledge of what you were talking about, any web developer worth his salt will tell you that flash is not worth using because :
• it has a large download size and slows down the site.
• content can't be accessed by search engines and therefore not linked in the results.
flash is outdated and processor heavy , html5 is the future as it deals with both of the above points. If you want to try it yourself goto youtube where you can switch to the beta and try it yourself. stop being a jerk

Flash sucks, even on a desktop machine.
It sucks so much that the IT directors at work, who support 1,000 desktop PCs, not including laptops and blackberry phones, have eliminated Flash from every Windows image everywhere.
No Flash on our IT-supported machines.

@_mark: I'm sorry, you actually plan on purchasing an HP slate? REALLY?
I don't think you have a right to discuss anything if you're that stupid. And yeah you've also proved your idiocy in your sexist remarks, you're not funny and, more importantly, you are a retard.

@Hand me...
Flash has a lot of weaknesses, but file size is not one of then. With few exceptions, flash delivery is smaller than equivalent standard content - from my own experiences with flash and svg, or flash and dom-based animation, sometimes much smaller. Flash still has a sweet spot for a good chunk of content. That spot is going to shrink, but not disappear.

file size is not one of flash's weaknesses by the way people. you can give up that argument too.
NEXT? Anymore challengers?

Thank god it doesn't support ActiveX, otherwise all of our iPad's will have (incompatible) spyware and keyloggers disguised as smileys xD

Mark, notwithstanding the argument regarding Flash, your first comment was so egregiously misogynistic that I'm officially dismissing you as irrelevant to this debate.

I have no particular allegiance to Flash per se, but I get really annoyed when I can't do some things on my iPhone that I can on my laptop. Chief among these things are browsing street view sites, watching Hulu, and getting the Youtube experience. All three of these are "musts" for me for a full Internet experience. I appreciate the Google Maps app, which allows me to do some of the first, but there's nothing even remotely resembling Hulu available for the iPhone, and let's face it--the Youtube app sucks.

Ignore the flash guy. Easy way out.
So in an all Apple/html5 world if you had a client like Jim Carrey who wanted a giant tentacle monster to grab the user and pull him to another city, you'd have to say 'Thats impossible Mr. Carrey!' this is html5, you'll have to wait at least 6 years for that to be possible!
although that has been possible in flash for 6+ years now!
So you see my point people, why are you limiting the possiblities of the internet? Isn't it nice that we have the ability to even do these things? To make anything possible for the client?

@mark
I'm with you man. And don't listen to the hippies. Saying something is a girl toy is funny and gets the point accross. The iPad is definitely destined for the WNBA; layups and jumpshots

REGARDLESS... the fact is that FLASH will become less and less relevant especially with "big players" like Apple and dev looking at alternate solutions. I will definitely take time.
Nuff said.

@ Paris: true. My concern is that it could take up to a decade for Flash to become fully irrelevant. That's a hell of a long time, especially when you're talking gadgets. I'd hate to wait that long to be able to do some pretty damn basic things on my iPhone.

@Joe McG thx !
@Paris,
I disagree. Apple is isolating itself based on a grudge Jobs has had ever since Flash video decimated Quicktime as the number one way to deliver video on the internet. He needs therapy.
And the crashing of Safari, I remember those days. Safari would crash but Firefox would not during CPU intensive animation. This is not Flash Player's fault but Safari's! He's a stubborn guy, and he is flat out WRONG!

If Jobs wants to see buggy software, he should take a look at iTunes for windows xp. I have a brand new Lenovo T400 laptop and iTunes takes 15 seconds to start and you have to click on a song 4 or 5 times before it starts playing. It's just an mp3 player for Christs sakes! Garbage...

@_mark
FYI - we are talking about mobile web here
And The reason for Apple's discontent with Flash is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. you don't have be an Apple fanboy/fangirl to understand the iPhone safari usage is the fastestgrowing accross the world and will continue to dominant until this mythical "iPhone killer" device is unveiled (we have not seen this yet).
That said - apple/developers/websites will find solutions outside of flash to get there products to these use. Plain & simple.

The iPad is a fantastic tool.
Apple did not design it to replace a laptop of desktop. Specifically, it is part of Apple's digital hub - the computer being the center, just like the iPod and iPhone. Thus, those who want every feature in the book to be added should bite their tongue. The iPad is not a PC. It will never be as complicated nor bug prone nor virus prone as a PC.
As a physician, I think the iPad is a fantastic tool. It is extremely portable. It doesn't have to be unfolded (like a laptop) to use. It isn't as fragile as keyboards are to dirt and liquids. It can carry my schedule and phone numbers straight from my server via the internet. It can carry tons of medical books and services. It can even do notes as I walk around the hospital seeing my patients. And it can even wire off prescriptions via the internet. It will become ubiquitous to other physicians, I seriously bet.
If it is too "girly", then fantastic. You have just attracted half of the human population to the iPad. Women, generally, are discouraged from using computers. But the iPad changes the equation and welcomes them with open arms. Just having women purchase the iPad means it will be a HUGE it.
For gamers, the iPad is HUGE. Think about higher quality games than what you can get on a Nintendo DS or Portable Playstation, without having to carry cartridges, which you can purchase anytime at the iPad apps store. Think how fantastic shooter games will be, how Madden's football will look. The iPad is a PORTABLE HD Screen just inches from your face. This means the action is right where you are not 20 fee away. It is instant-on. Thus, you can play anywhere immediately. And it is only $499 for the entry model - with games costing much less than they do on the Nintendo DS or Portable Playstation. Also, think about how easy it is on it to play multiplayer network games online or through bluetooth or wifi networks. Think about World of Warcraft on it in the near future. Wow!
The iPad is also the perfect computer for babies and and kids. It is so easy to use, a 1 year-old can be seen on YouTube using his iPod Touch. How much easier is the iPad to use. Kids can also use it to write their papers and reports. It is a lot more resilient than laptops with kids. Any dirt on the screen is easily wiped off. It is not so easy to wipe off dirt from a laptop keyboard and speaker grills.
The iPad is also perfect for grandparents, who aren't so computer savvy. They can easily learn how to surf the web, do email, and do other productive and entertaining things on their iPad. Wow! And it is SO INEXPENSIVE also.

Forget Flash and Active X. Steve Jobs is great at point out and leaving out old technologies.
Even in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, he left out Appletalk.
Flash and Active X are dying like the Dodo bird.
The whole world will be forever more peaceful and useful without them.

There are now more than 75 million iPhones and iPod Touches and thousands of Android phones. All of these DO NOT USE FLASH when browsing the web.
Adobe should add these to their statistics to see how quicly Flash is NOT being used on the web.

For the new sites and redesigns I'm involved with, flash barely gets a mention. Customers hate it because you can't SEO flash content, developers hate it because it's a slow, cpu intensive pig. The only valid pro flash argument out there is for streaming video support? Embedded flash video is the active X of yesteryear, and we all know what happened to active x.
It's on it's way out. Lack of player support on portable devices will only speed that up, and that's a good thing.

They'll piss and moan for a while about the deprecation of their beloved Flash platform, but successful developers will eventually rewrite their Flash games in JavaScript+HTML 5 or as standalone Cocoa Touch apps in order to capture the growing market of millions of iGadget users.

So, the new ipad users should just shut up and quit complaining when they can't access a lot of sites because the technology used (flash) is just old and crappy and for losers!
They should pay upfront to not get a full user experience for several years?

I am sorry but I had to chime in and correct some really incorrect statements, yes you can index flash properly, the company that I work for was just given an award for this by google's Avanish Kaushik. It has never really bee about not being able to optimize flash but index the content- sorry to be pedantic. Flash is going to be offered on every major mobile platform and handset apart from the iphone in 2010, however with flash 5 you will be able to convert Flash files into native iPhone app which you cant do the other way round. There are already ways of hacking the iphone and ipad to display flash content properly. This is just a classic example of steve jobs being protectionist. I am a true mac lover and have about 30 of them but lets discuss things with a few more facts.

Flash alone is 100% responsible for bringing hi definition TV to all of you. You are ungrateful if you don't recognize this. Flash isn't going anywhere anytime soon either, so live with it.

@Brett.. not necessary. Flash CS5 does this automatically!
BTW, before anyone else slams flash or says they don't need it, please uninstall it from your system first and then come back and talk to me. Otherwise, you're just a hypocrite.

@_mark
I thought apple fans were obsessive!
Never seen a flash fanboy before!
Sent from my iPhone where I live without flash quite happily!

@Fox
haha :)
that's fine on your iphone, but the ipad is touting itself as a netbook / laptop competitor. It is NOT!
Uninstall flash from your Desktop or Laptop! Didn't think so!

as leo laporte says, time will tell. if not, it sure will make a hell of a flashlight.
Personally, I need a multitasking computer. otherwise, it's just a toy.

Geez Rene... listen to yourself...
Firefox is a browser.. a FREE browser... the Ipad is a $629 device .. It's easy to switch to a free browser..
If you could have a flash enabled browser while waiting for a faster and better HTML5 safari that would be better...
with that said the IPad would still sell because there are a whole ot of Rene's out there..
Yes eventually HTML5 will be the way.. but in the meantime the IPAD is a horrible browsing experience

Oh dear. HTML 5, css 3. Video, basic vector graphics and drag and drop. Flash had all of this in 2003. Hardly catching up! Flash has so much more now. I have an iPhone. That contracts up, next a google nexus with flash 10.1 so I can surf the entire web. I have a mac, bought it cos I loved the phone and it worked well together. That'll be on eBay soon if anyone is interested. I want an open platform where I choose the content I see. Not decided on by a company. If flash is really dying out, then why don't apple just support it, let they're customers choose whether or not they want to use it and let it go gracefully. But we know won't happen cos flash is much more powerful than any other web technology, and has a massive developer base. Flash player 10.1 will be on every device exept the iPhone and ipad. That includes all other smart phones, backberry andriod and symbian, and netwooks. Check out adobes open screen project.
Truth is in my opinion, flash provides too much free content, games and music which will take money away from the iTunes and apps store.

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Oh well, Apple has killed Flash, R.I.P.
Now lets get on with our life's and find a way to do what we need to do on those millions of i-gadget's ...necessity is the mother of invention!

I hate Apple soooo much! I wanted an ipad but nooooo they can't just support Flash like everyone else :(

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