Steve Jobs hates Google and Adobe even more than I do

I haven’t been a fan of Adobe products ever since Creative Suite became a total pain in the backside to install on a network, and when they took over Macromedia and inherited Flash, I liked them even less. Nor am I a fan of Google, whose laissez-faire attitude to privacy runs utterly contrary to their stated company ethics, and whose Windows software is too often amateurishly designed with support for managed networks either not present at all, or added several months late as an afterthought.

My own distaste, however, pales in comparison to that of the CEO of Apple, as reported by Gizmodo:

“That ‘Don’t be evil’ slogan Google’s known for?… ‘Full of cr**,’ Jobs said, after which he was reportedly rewarded with a big round of applause from the gathered throng of Apple employees… ‘Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.'”

The attacks became more specific when it came to Adobe:

“Jobs also criticized Flash for being buggy. When a Mac crashes, it’s usually because of Flash, he reportedly told the crowd. ‘The world is moving to HTML5’, he said.”

I’d have to agree with the first part of his assessment: Flash, along with other Adobe software, has more bugs than a world-class entomologist. I cannot recall a single instance of my browser crashing within the last year that wasn’t down to Flash or Adobe Reader. That said, if a browser plugin is taking down the whole system, Jobs needs to level some rage at his own developers, since the OS should be able to cope with one piece of miscreant user-mode software.

However, the world ‘moving to HTML5’? I think that’s a little premature…

Gawker elaborated on Jobs’ Flash hatred, reporting that he told Wall Street Journal staff that the reason for not including Flash support was that it was obsolete:

Jobs… “called Flash a ‘CPU hog,’ a source of ‘security holes’ and, in perhaps the most grievous insult a famous innovator can utter, a dying technology. Jobs said of Flash, ‘We don’t spend a lot of energy on old technology.’ He then compared Flash to other obsolete systems Apple got people to ditch.”

Again, no argument from me on the first part. In the days before dual-core machines, I would regularly see Flash max out a CPU just by having two Flash-based advertisements on the same web page in Firefox (IE was less afflicted since the Flash ActiveX control is more efficient). It got so bad that I started using FlashBlock to whitelist sites I actually wanted to use Flash on, and I’ve been using it ever since.

After that is where the argument falls apart. Calling Flash an ‘old technology’, with the implication that it is obsolete along with the floppy drive and Firewire, isn’t premature, or even just wishful thinking: it’s downright conceited. Jobs is implying that the lack of support for Flash was a design decision, and not a compromise because the extra CPU load would shatter the iPad’s supposed 10-hour battery life. He spent his time with the Wall Street Journal trying to convince them that moving away from Flash to HTML5 and JavaScript would be ‘trivial’, a claim so demonstrably false it’s hard to believe he’s being anything but disingenuous.

Here’s my opinion, and the opinion of most people who aren’t Steve Jobs: Flash is here to stay, whether we like it or not. So where does that leave the iPad and it’s deliberate lack of Flash support? Google’s Android platform, which Jobs claims is out to destroy the iPhone, supports Flash, as does Windows Mobile, and every major desktop OS brower. If the iPad takes off, other manufacturers are bound to copy the form factor, with what I predict will be two major differences:

  1. it will be cheaper, and
  2. it will have Flash support.

The iPhone and iPad are the odd one out here, yet Jobs seems to be equating the unequivocal success of the closed iPhone/App Store ecosystem with eventual dominance of the entire web. That’s a big leap to make, and not necessarily correct.

Next week, I’ll examine in more detail the different ways I see this one playing out. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote from a Wall Street Journal op-ed, written shortly after their meeting with Jobs. It’s a description of Apple that would have seemed ludicrous a few years ago, but is now becoming increasingly familiar:

“A company preoccupied with products is in danger of becoming a company preoccupied with strategy. And by ‘strategy’, we mean zero-sum maneuvering versus hated rivals. Oh well, it’s a fallen world we live in.” – Holman Jenkins.

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

4 responses to “Steve Jobs hates Google and Adobe even more than I do”

  1. ipadfanboy says :

    I agree that Flash is here to stay and there may actually be Flash on the iPad when it’s released due to updates to Flash as well as the iPad OS.

    See here:
    http://ipaduniverse.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/does-ipad-need-flash-or-html-5/

  2. tmcd35 says :

    Maybe, if I download Google Chrome for may iMac then Adobe Flash crashing won’t bring down my entire OS? Maybe we should ask Mr Jobs to allow a Chrome port to the iPad then maybe allowing Flash would be safe?

  3. Setenza says :

    “…has more bugs than a world-class etymologist”

    Or even a world-class entomologist. Etymologists prefer words, as a rule.