Steve Jobs, the man who killed Flash

At the time of Flash’s official end, it seems more appropriate to come back to the man who performed the first stab according to Adobe’s standard, a first direct fatal blow even if he did the death certificate signing took 13 years.

It’s January 9th, 2007. Steve Jobs has just announced the iPhone, a mobile device that combines the functions of “a large screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary cell phone, and a revolutionary Internet communicator”. Apple’s CEO ignored one of the main features of this first modern smartphone: the lack of Flash. At the time, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or Nokia owners mock Apple’s choice. Flash was a de facto standard for a long time in 2007 (the plug-in was released in 1996), and some wonder if that lack of support won’t hurt the iPhone’s success.

In fact, the opposite is happening: iPhone sales are finally picking up pace after a weak first half, and as soon as the iPhone 3G is released in 2008, many websites are already starting to customize their video content. so that these can be read on the smartphone phenomenon. In 2010, 40% of Internet video content could be played on an iPhone. That same year, Steve Jobs throws a second cobblestone into the pond, this time in the form of a long open letter whose sole aim is to turn off Flash. The man in the black turtleneck points out the ultra-proprietary aspect of the plug-in / media player, the recurring security vulnerabilities, the mediocre performance affecting the autonomy of the cell phones, the poor support for touch interfaces and the lack of it a cross-platform SDK for content creation.

Jobs does not go into details in his conclusion: “Flash was created in the PC age – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can see why it should go beyond PCs. In the mobile age, however, it’s all about low-power devices, touchscreen interfaces, and open web standards – areas where Flash fails. The avalanche of media making their content available for Apple mobile devices shows that Flash is no longer required to watch videos or consume web content. And the 250,000 apps in Apple’s App Store prove that tens of thousands of developers don’t need Flash to create graphically rich apps, including games. The new open standards that were created in the mobile age, such as: B. HTML5, will eventually triumph on mobile devices (and also on PCs). Perhaps in the future Adobe should focus more on building great HTML5 tools and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind. “

Without too much of a surprise, a large part of the French media (very often the Steve Jobs bashing) is on Adobe’s side. Although Le Monde is for once less visionary, he will publish a long article – Flash Rejection: Steve Jobs’ arguments will be examined – that exposes the open letter from Apple’s CEO. The newspaper is wrong about almost everything, for example “declaring” that the H264 “could in fact pose licensing problems”. Less than 7 years after this article, given the increasing number of bugs and the predominance of H264, Adobe decides to announce the planned end of Flash. Flash officially died on December 31, 2020.

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