iPad and iPhone are BAD for the Web

January 28th, 2010

I don’t want to bore you guys to tears, but Apple’s latest move to not support Flash (and thus 99% of web video) on the iPad is very disturbing.

The facts are simple:

  • Millions of web pages with Flash content will break on iPhones and iPads.
  • Like it or not Flash is ubiquitous.
  • Flash is controlled by Adobe but free to anyone to write code against.
  • Apple is doing this to try and control content distribution – IMHO.
  • HTML 5′s video support is years away from being an option to use on commercial web sites.

Since Flash is not supported by the iPad or the iPhone and since the vast majority of web surfers don’t have HTML 5, if we want to deliver video on the Web, we have to support two methods of delivery.

… Just like it was during the 1990′s browser wars, where we had to write code for IE and code for Netscape. Thanks Apple for bringing back the good old days! Jerks.

Apple has to stop being a bunch of iJerks and support Flash.

Stefan Mischook
www.killersites.com

44 Responses to “iPad and iPhone are BAD for the Web”

  1. Mathew says:

    Totally agree. Apple makes some bad choices.

    How can they say it is better than a notebook when

    1) You cannot multitask
    2) You cannot view videos or sites etc in flash

    and a few other things i forgot about. The ipad is just a bigger version of the iphone. How Apple can say it goes beyond a notebook and anything else within that category just goes beyond me. The ipad is certainly not what it’s made up to be.

    They should also be made to state in any advertising they do that internet is limited to non flash content websites, because it is very very misleading to say it is a full pledged internet capable ipad when it does not even support flash.

    Apple suck and they always will do.

  2. bnther says:

    I admire Steve Jobs for what he has accomplished, but the man is turning me ‘anti-Apple’.
    It’s been my experience that the majority of designer/developers are Apple fans. When you deliberately go out of your way to handicap your developers, then you’re spitting in the face of the people who are literally building your future.
    This little ‘my way or the highway’ attitude is really hurting the users the most. I’m sure a lot of very surprised users, especially among the younger crowd, who are disappointed when they can’t play their flash games or watch a flash video…but their friends can.
    I admire Steve Jobs for what he has accomplished, but I really feel that he has come to put his own ideals above the user.

  3. Adrian says:

    I’m glad there’s no flash…less annoying ads and bullshit…I hope flash dies ASAP and this is a great way to start weening the world off of it. Sure, Apple also benefits from being able to control content, but it also serves the greater good of killing flash. In other words if people don’t get use to life without flash at some point, then we are doomed to having it hold the web back as it evolves.

  4. Flash is an important tool; it allows for video and games to be played on the Web.

    Forcing people to have to branch code (1 video player for iPad and iPod and Flash for everyone else) .. sucks.

    For me, this is not political, it is practical.

    Stefan

  5. Jeffrey Stevison says:

    We shouldn’t be held hostage by Flash any more that we should by Apple products. Adobe might have a product that fills a need but it’s implementation is awful. If you have developed sites for multiple browsers you already branch code to fit browsers, such as IE, that have quirks or don’t follow web standards so I don’t see the difference here.

  6. Joseph says:

    From an article I just read…

    “Adobe has added the ability for Flash developers to export their work into iPhone app format, without the need to rebuild the entire app from scratch. You could soon see your favorite Flash games and web apps in the iTunes App Store.”

    so..

    “However, this does nothing to place Flash inside the iPhone Safari() browser. Until this happens, we won’t be satisfied. Flash is a core component of the web. Hopefully Apple realizes this sometime soon.”

    So maybe in a year or two Flash player support will happen.

  7. John says:

    The purposeful calculation of forcing the use of one technology over another to gain financial market share of a product by controlling content and distribution of that product, is in effect an attempt at creating a monopoly. It should be illegal. It is the same bullying process that Microsoft has employed successfully for years, after escaping the anti-trust prosecution attempted by the Clinton administration but abandoned by the Bush administration.

    It should be illegal! But without out a backlash from the buying public there will not likely be any changes.

    I won’t be spending my money to help them cripple me as a developer or end user purchaser.

    JBII

    end transmission……….///

  8. kevin says:

    Apple isn’t leaving flash off to “have more control” over the content that is on the iphone/ipad, while i do disagree with apples draconian control of the iphone and ipad (thats why jailbreaking exists people) the reason flash is left off is because adobe is stupid, they have had plenty of opportunities to make flash less sucky, less crashy and better optimized altogether, but they don’t. 99.99% of the time my web browser crashes on my mac is because of flash, that is the LAST issue i want on my iphone. flash is a poorly written poorly optimized memory hogging behemoth you do NOT want something like that on a portable device where memory management is crucial. Next time educate yourself on the matter of why its really not on there before writing an incendiary article about these products. Yes there is reason to be pissy about them being closed off and apple having control over everything that goes on or off of them, but flash not being on there is NOT apples fault, its adobes.

  9. Kurt Williams says:

    I second John.

  10. Mike says:

    This is silly…

    The author’s assertions are stupid.

    “Millions of web pages with Flash content will break on iPhones and iPads.” – Not true, worse case the Flash content will simply not appear. The rest of the page will be fine.

    “Flash is controlled by Adobe but free to anyone to write code against.” – Again, not true, Flash is free for users to use, but the Flash content creation tools are commercial Adobe products and not cheap.

    “Apple is doing this to try and control content distribution – IMHO.” Not true again, Apple does not control third party web sites or the content those websites serve up.

    “HTML 5’s video support is years away from being an option to use on commercial web sites.” – Yet again, untrue. The HTML tag is published and is at the discretion of the web site to use or not, right now. Its a question of whether’s the user’s browser supports HTML5.

    “Since Flash is not supported by the iPad or the iPhone and since the vast majority of web surfers don’t have HTML 5, if we want to deliver video on the Web, we have to support two methods of delivery.” – This isn’t as complicated as you think. Its actually very easy.

    The problem with Flash is that since Adobe acquired Macromedia, Flash has languished and is now quite unstable and is a resource hog. Furthermore, the a Touch UI is subtly different from a Mouse based UI, a lot of Flash content is awkward in a touch environment. Kind of like the bad old days when Microsoft added mouse support to DOS – you don’t see that anymore, do you?

    Computers are moving from mouse based UI to a Touch based UI, by disallowing Flash, Apple is simply trying to encourage a rapid and smooth transition. You might recognized this from the old days of the Macintosh UI when Apple simply didn’t support a command line. Developers had to rewrite their apps for a Mouse based UI.

    Its time to move on folks.

  11. Robert Hutwohl says:

    People should not get pissy about things they know nothing about. The issue is not with Apple, it is with Adobe and for that matter with Macromedia for developing bad code in the first place. Adobe purchased flash when it purchased the company Macromedia and they (Adobe) have been lazy ever since. Adobe felt because of the flash success story, we do not have to fix the problems, but now all that legacy code is starting to haunt them and it may be too late to fix.

  12. Max says:

    Flash runs cross-browser and cross platform, and works even in Safari – which is the crappiest of the browsers in the first place. It runs on multiple devices as well.

    Adobe has continually offered to work with Apple to address any possible issues with the Iphone / itouch, but Apple has refused.

    (And Kevin – my iTouch can deal with download / storage and display of 500 meg video podcasts. Flash is nothing for a device like that. Hell, my g3 has less memory than my iTouch, and even with os9 it can display Flash.)

    Flash is used for navigation, audio and video players, games and widgets all over the web, and it’s not crashing anyone’s browser every five minutes… a badly programmed Flash App might do so, but not Flash itself.

    This is SOLELY Apple’s continued effort to control content… and despite their best efforts to try and convince people how cool they are, this is just one more example of how cool they’re NOT.

  13. Neca says:

    I’ve had an iPhone for 3 years. Didn’t miss flash at all.

  14. Mark says:

    I don’t agree with Apple’s decision, but I can certainly understand it. Whenever your browser crashes 99% of the time it’s due to a plugin doing something bad, and the plugin in question is usually Flash. This is especially true on OSX where Adobe have managed to make Flash slower, more unstable and more resource-intensive than on other platforms.

    If I was Apple I wouldn’t want Flash on my new platform in its current state. Its unreliability and poor performance would damage users’ perceptions of the iPad; Apple would get the blame, not Adobe.

    Adobe have been quite vocal about Apple’s decision; if they spent more time producing a usable Flash for OSX and less time whining about it then maybe Apple might change their mind.

  15. Man, insulted by people who don’t know the facts … see below:

    “Millions of web pages with Flash content will break on iPhones and iPads.” – Not true, worse case the Flash content will simply not appear. The rest of the page will be fine.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    ->Except if you have video or perhaps you are using Flash for your navigation. For example, Comedy Central uses Flash to distribute their content. No Flash support = no video. I guess you could read the transcripts.

    “Flash is controlled by Adobe but free to anyone to write code against.” – Again, not true, Flash is free for users to use, but the Flash content creation tools are commercial Adobe products and not cheap.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    -> Not true. There are 3rd party companies that have applications that produce Flash based output – for example: http://www.swishzone.com/

    .. Now who’s looking stupid!

    “Apple is doing this to try and control content distribution – IMHO.” Not true again, Apple does not control third party web sites or the content those websites serve up.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    -> That was a guess on my part – who knows what thoughts creep about in Jobs head.

    “HTML 5’s video support is years away from being an option to use on commercial web sites.” – Yet again, untrue. The HTML tag is published and is at the discretion of the web site to use or not, right now. Its a question of whether’s the user’s browser supports HTML5.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    - > Wrong again. Right now, IE7 and IE8 by far and away dominate the browser market .. ~70%+ and as far as I know, they don’t fully support HTML 5 – including the video tag. So in PRACTICAL real terms, it will probably take years for a fully HTML capable IE to come out and thus years before web designers can use HTML 5.

    “Since Flash is not supported by the iPad or the iPhone and since the vast majority of web surfers don’t have HTML 5, if we want to deliver video on the Web, we have to support two methods of delivery.” – This isn’t as complicated as you think. Its actually very easy.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    -> it’s not a question of easier or hard, it’s a question of having to do it at all.

    The problem with Flash is that since Adobe acquired Macromedia, Flash has languished and is now quite unstable and is a resource hog. Furthermore, the a Touch UI is subtly different from a Mouse based UI, a lot of Flash content is awkward in a touch environment. Kind of like the bad old days when Microsoft added mouse support to DOS – you don’t see that anymore, do you?

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\
    -> It is true that Flash runs poorly on Mac.

    Computers are moving from mouse based UI to a Touch based UI, by disallowing Flash, Apple is simply trying to encourage a rapid and smooth transition. You might recognized this from the old days of the Macintosh UI when Apple simply didn’t support a command line. Developers had to rewrite their apps for a Mouse based UI.

    Its time to move on folks.

  16. Bruce says:

    With adobes software being the vector for a number of attacks across a number of systems, I can understand why apple dont want it in their closed products. Jobs is right, flash sucks.

    If we could agree on a standards compliant way to replace it – SVG/Javascript for example – then we could be free of this limitation and free of the big security flaw that adobes software represents. Of course with adobe (flash) and mircosoft (silverlight) sitting on webs standards committees we may not see this anytime soon and it will probably be up to apple or google to force a new standard as a consequence of the ubiquity of their products in the mobile space. A few years pain for a web standards gain – Im for that

  17. My point is being missed in all this, I am not concerned about Apple or Adobe, I am concerned about web designers and web developers … Apple’s monopolistic move hurts all of us.

    Apple and Adobe need to work out their Flash differences on their own time but in the process, millions of web sites and web developer (there are estimated 2 million Flash developers out there) should not be punished in the battle.

    Stefan

  18. Mike says:

    Yes, there are third party Flash content creation tools, but generally, they are to be polite, minority products (aka hacks).

    “-> It is true that Flash runs poorly on Mac.”

    Exactly… Since underneath the UI and aside from the hardware, iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches are essentially hand held Macs, why on earth would Apple want to become dependent on a vendor that has created a crap product and can’t get their act together?

  19. Mike says:

    Like I said, we’re moving towards a Touch based User Interface.

    If you have ever surfed the Internet on an iPhone, you know that many sites are awkward. That’s because the site is either not built for the small screen or built for a Mouse UI. For example, a fingertip is much larger than the hotspot on a mouse pointer. Applications and web content need to adjust.

  20. Stephen Burgoyne Coulson says:

    You don’t need flash to deliver a stream. Just give me the stream. I don’t care about the flash.

    And with firefox or anything similar we don’t need flash at all. Just write to the canvas – it’s an open standard. Anyone can write to it, anyone can implement it.

  21. “why on earth would Apple want to become dependent on a vendor that has created a crap product and can’t get their act together?”

    Flash is the standard for rich media and game development on the Web – this is the undeniable truth. Millions of Web users depend on Flash everyday for video, UI and games.

    … Apple failed with Quicktime and Flash succeeded and they should provide devices that fully support the Web.

  22. Mike says:

    Look, Apple is simply saying lets get on with Open Standards like HTML5 instead of being constrained by proprietary technologies that the vendors are not maintaining…

    I don’t see what the problem with that is.

  23. Hi Mike,

    I wouldn’t either and in fact, I am very much into open standards etc. The problem I have, is that Apple is crippling many, many websites by blocking the use of an ubiquitous technology.

    Stefan

  24. Mike says:

    I’ve done a fair amount of Flex development which relies on the Flash VM. One thing about Flash that annoys me is that when a Flash component is running, my laptop never goes to sleep. Consequently, when I’m on battery power, the battery runs out pretty fast. Now I can deal with this most of the time with a laptop that is plugged in most of the time. But its unacceptable in a handheld device like an iPad or iPhone.

  25. When Apples says “… The entire Internet in the palm of your hand.” They should amend that statement:

    “… The entire Internet in the palm of your hand EXCEPT for 99% of video, some audio and all online video game sites. Well, you can visit their sites, but you can’t watch the videos or play the games.”

    Stef

  26. Mike says:

    Well, I personally think the iPad’s primary market will be students, much as the market for the early Macs were students. I have no doubt that the websites who want to service this new market will adapt.

    Incidentally, the iPad doesn’t run Windows either.

  27. kpax says:

    Flash is a resource pig,
    i seriously doubt the cpu in these products could handle it anyway – let it die.

    as for HTML5 – use a better browser,
    not IE.

  28. “i seriously doubt the cpu in these products could handle it anyway – let it die.”

    Well, apparently Flash works on the Blackberry … among other PDA’s.

  29. Mike says:

    Flash “Lite” works on the Blackberry – Barely…

  30. sukhbir says:

    Actually it is Adobe Flash Player that is bad for the web, not iPad and iPhone. The Adobe Flash player is an awful resource hog, and these small devices cannot handle it. Adobe better get its act together and fix their flash player or the web is going to move on to something else.

  31. CDM says:

    I’m trying to imagine the brainstorming session where the decision was made… “no flash support”.

  32. Greg London says:

    Yeah, I always hate it when I go to a website on my iPhone only to see a section of it tell me I need to install flash to view it. Apple really should support flash because it really is used a lot on the web.

  33. Ric says:

    Jeez…this IS the browser war all over again. SnORE. Have to dev for 2 platforms? Get real. Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Lays Potato Chips. Flash ports to Quicktime; Quicktime runs video just fine, better than flash. Flash AS3 sux. Plenty of software available besides Flash to design for touch screens. Games; who cares; buy a PSP – kids in school and busy people don’t need games. (( the “education” paradigm is 90% BS ))

  34. kevmo says:

    kevin, the reason why your mak crashes, is … because it’s a mak, not flash!!!

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    maks are for people with no brains .. but with lots of money to spend. when a mak crashes, ah, phone the repair guy @$75 an hour

    you are left behind, my friend, see ya!!!!!!

  35. Pete says:

    Simple, don’t worry about it! Instead of developers trying to compensate and write code that will cater for the i devices somehow, simply don’t! Let it fail, let users complain and tell them it’s Apple that refuses to support common/popular standards. I love my iMac and OSX but I HATE Apple!!! they’re about as arrogant as MS, if not worse…

  36. kevin says:

    @kevmo did i say my MAC crashed? No i said the web browser. No brains? That is hysterical, you use MICROSOFT products, which are the WORST in the industry and you call me stupid? That would almost be funny if it wasn’t so truly and utterly pathetic. You labor under the delusion that windows is better because more people use it. I got news for you, more people drive fords than ferraris, which is a better car? What argument is going to come next, PC’s are cheaper? yeh you can get a mac for 500$, cant run all the games? not true either, if you REALLY miss your horrid winbloze and pc games you can run it on a mac just as fast just as well. Let me posit another question. How often does microsloth come out with a new os? every 10 years? When they make it “better” who do they copy off of? Need a hint? Who keeps trying to take over industries with their has-been products? Microsoft. Who UTTERLY FAILS EVERY TIME? Microsoft. Know anyone who owns a zune? Know anyone who thinks vista is a good OS? I know people who still run WINDOWS 2000 because thats the best they ever got it. PATHETIC.

  37. kevin says:

    Adobe could do better than whining and could actually make Flash not a steaming pile of crap resource hog that has never run well on macs. All the underlying OSes for their portable devices are a derivative in some form of OS X, if its not going to run well on those computers its not going to run well on the devices. I have had an iPhone since the beginning and have not missed flash one iota.

  38. Bernhard Rosenkraenzer says:

    I dislike the iPad and iPhone for other reasons (such as their inability to run applications not approved by Apple), but I applaud the choice to leave out Flash.

    Unlike all the other technologies used on the web, Flash is not an open technology – it is controlled by one company, and there is only one fully compliant player for the content, and that player is not Open Source, therefore it can’t be ported to new systems without the approval of its owners, which you usually don’t get.

    You want to run Flash on Linux without X11? No way (except for using an unofficial and incomplete player such as Gnash). On BSD? Only if you bother to install a big Linux emulator. On other alternative operating systems? No way whatsoever.

    Also, the official Flash player is buggy as hell (at least its Linux and MacOS ports are), with no chance of it being fixed, newer versions tend to get worse rather than better.

    Flash must die, and Apple’s move will accelerate this.

    Apple, while I hate you for other reasons, thank you for this!!!

  39. gmathol says:

    Apple brings back proprietary system, which is good for the Apple business model, but not for users who pay a fortune for the hardware and get an OS which needs a Window implementation in order to provide the desired functions.

    The reason while Apple computers aren’t infected by viruses is pretty clear! Are there any virus scanner for Apple out there? Nop.
    And yet we found some interesting back door trojans and malware on some Apple computers and I-phones.

  40. jack abbot says:

    Apple has to stop being a bunch of iJerks and support Flash.

    Why? Flash is a closed source environment. If Adobe wants flash (a security headache BTW) to be 100% working they need write code for these different platforms.

    Given I run FreeBSD – flash just doesn’t work because Adobe hasn’t done the coding job.

    So……

    How about “web designers” stop being exclusionist jerks (eJerks) and stick to writing code that actually runs on all the various platforms?

  41. DJ Particle says:

    - > Wrong again. Right now, IE7 and IE8 by far and away dominate the browser market .. ~70%+ and as far as I know, they don’t fully support HTML 5 – including the video tag. So in PRACTICAL real terms, it will probably take years for a fully HTML capable IE to come out and thus years before web designers can use HTML 5.

    Firefox, Safari, and Opera support HTML 5 in their most current versions.

    So basically you’re admitting Microsoft is incompetent, because really the failure of IE to fully support HTML 5 lies in the hands of MS.

    So you’re saying no one should code HTML 5 over Flash because we need to wait for Microsoft to adapt? Personally, I think everyone should go HTML 5 and give Microsoft a harsh reality check, but that’s just me.

  42. “So basically you’re admitting Microsoft is incompetent, because really the failure of IE to fully support HTML 5 lies in the hands of MS.”

    ??

    I have nothing to admit – I am not a schill for Microsoft, Adobe or Apple. I am just a web developer who wants to make it as easy as possible for web professionals to do their jobs.

    Stefan

  43. vertexweb says:

    Totally agree. Apple makes some bad choices.

    How can they say it is better than a notebook when

    1) You cannot multitask
    2) You cannot view videos or sites etc in flash

    and a few other things i forgot about. The ipad is just a bigger version of the iphone. How Apple can say it goes beyond a notebook and anything else within that category just goes beyond me. The ipad is certainly not what it’s made up to be.

    They should also be made to state in any advertising they do that internet is limited to non flash content websites, because it is very very misleading to say it is a full pledged internet capable ipad when it does not even support flash.

    Apple suck and they always will do.

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