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Jobs: Flash dead like the iMac's 'missing' floppy drive

updated 04:05 pm EST, Thu February 18, 2010

Jobs' WSJ tour trashed Flash, touted iPad

Dropping Flash is no different than the decision to drop the floppy drive from the iMac, Apple chief Steve Jobs reportedly told the Wall Street Journal during his iPad promo tour at major publishers. Those who were at the meeting claim that Flash to him is obsolete technology that should be dropped in favor of a better option. He purportedly likened it not only to floppies but also to purging old technologies like FireWire 400, non-LED backlit LCDs, or the dependence on music CDs.

The Apple co-founder went so far as to label Flash a security risk and a "CPU hog." According to Gawker, Jobs argued the iPad's battery life would drop from 10 hours to just 1.5 due to the sheer amount of resource overhead. The claim is potentially an exaggeration: battery life on newer MacBook Pros has been tested as shrinking by over an hour with Flash active, although the faster processors and added memory help absorb some of the performance concerns.

As he has in the past, Jobs allegedly told the newspaper executives that they should convert Flash-dependent material to HTML5 and use H.264 for videos; both are "trivial," he said. Many have disagreed as the technique involves switching to relatively advanced web code and scripting along with concerns about protecting the video and accomodating older browsers that don't support HTML5, particularly Internet Explorer.

Other publishers, like the New York Times, have already been more receptive to these sorts of overtures and have developed an iPad-sized version of the Times Reader app that plays native video in-line, skirting entirely around the lack of Flash.

Adobe has lately been a fierce critic of Apple's and has argued that Flash occupies too large a majority on the web for it to be left out of the iPad. The company plans to bring Flash to most major platforms through Flash 10.1 and AIR, especially more recent mobile software like Android and webOS.


By Electronista Staff


  1. jwdsail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2000


    like dropping FireWire 400...

    Yes, Mr. Jobs, but unlike Flash, or Floppy drives, FireWire is a technically *superior* technology, compared to what you claim replaces it, USB *spits*.

    Sorry, Mr. Jobs, but you'll pry my FireWire from my *cold dead hands*.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006



    If you read his comment, he says Firewire 400 is obsolete. You'll notice that all Apple computers (except the Air and the cheaper MacBook) come with Firewire 800.

  1. clwilla

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009


    Why do we

    need to have faster (and more expensive) hardware in order to make up for sloppy software design?

    Seems backwards to me.

  1. byRyan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007



    OK, firewire 800 is soo much cooler then 400, but what about all my damn cables. Would it have killed you to put just ONE firewire 400 port on your new MacPros so that I can plug a camera or a deck in without buying another adapter.

  1. Haroscarfel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2007



    as a multimedia design I live and breathe flash and related software. However, I find myself partially agreeing with steve. Since flash 10 there seems to always be a problem with each flash update. on top of that the cost of flash is still too much, and now with html5 there seems to be some competition for flash.

    What I would love to see apple introducing a cross platform alternative to many of adobe's products. They seemed to start with aperture, motion, and final cut, but it would be really nice to see more. who knows maybe somethings on the way.

  1. malax

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2006


    Yes it would...

    ...have "killed them" to add a FW400 port. That's the whole point of Jobs' statement. Supporting obsolete technologies is expensive. Bite the bullet and move on. The alternative is to maintain legacy cruft years past what should have been its expiration date. Like serial ports on PCs. (Do they still have those? I wouldn't be surprised if they do. Hey, I just checked my PC at work that I got maybe a year ago and it doesn't have floppy! How radical.)

  1. Haywire

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2001


    Flash will eat iPad's lunch

    "According to Gawker, Jobs argued the iPad's battery life would drop from 10 hours to just 1.5 due to the sheer amount of resource overhead. The claim is potentially an exaggeration: battery life on newer MacBook Pros has been tested as shrinking by over an hour with Flash active, although the faster processors and added memory help absorb some of the performance concerns."

    Yes, but the battery in a MacBook Pro is MUCH higher capacity than will be available in the iPad; and the MacBook's internals (Core2 Duo, graphics circuits, larger screen, hard drive; keyboard lights and circuits, radios, etc.) need MUCH more power than the the guts of the iPad (ARM processor, flash memory, screen, radios). I think the power used by Flash video is a much higher percentage of the available power in the iPad than is the case with the MacBooks.

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    FW800 and FW400

    I've a good chunk of change invested in cables for some FW400 devices, and will continue to use them if and when I buy a Mac Pro. How so? There are adapters aplenty out there, and even cables that have FW400 on one end and FW800 on the other.

    Take a look:

    Don't forget, you can daisy-chain up to 40 FW devices together, so as long as one of them has FW800 and FW400 connections, you can hook them up to current macs.

    Any news out there on FW3200, or is it all Lightpeak now?

  1. sigma8

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006


    HTML5 > Flash; in regards to triviality

    I agree with Steve on this one. The vast, vast majority of Flash content can be done just as well with proper HTML.. And I'm not sure why people disagree that this is trivial. Sure, maybe it's hard for a Flash designer.. But it's not like Flash is inherently easier than HTML/CSS.

    I do not dislike Flash/Flex, but with the growing utility of more standardized web technologies, using proprietary plugins becomes less and less appealing to me. Stuff like the Flash and PDF plugin are superfluous at this point. These technologies are fine on their own, but they don't play well with the HTML they are embedded in.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    FW800 is fragile

    For every broken (physically) FW400 port, there are five broken FW800 ports.

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