updated 10:00 pm EDT, Thu November 4, 2010
MacBook Air Flash may have left due to battery
Apple's decision to remove Flash from the default configuration of a new MacBook Air and future Macs may have had as much to do with battery life as version updating, testing discovered today. New benchmarks found the 11-inch model getting an above-spec six hours of battery life with the default no-Flash install and several websites open but just four with those same websites and the latest version of Flash. Test conductor Ars Technica noted that the constant cycling of Flash banner ads on those sites was the likely culprit as it kept the CPU constantly active instead of letting it step down.
The results parallel similar results obtained for higher-performace MacBook Pro models in the past. Anandtech has regularly checked browsing both with and without Flash and has usually seen major declines in running time whenever Flash was a significant component.
Adobe had mitigated some earlier concerns about battery life by bringing GPU acceleration to the Mac version of its plugin, but on all platforms it still primarily relies significantly on the processor for rendering animations and video. While not given as a reason for removing the default install of Flash for the desktop, battery life and resource usage were cornerstones for Steve Jobs' opposition to Flash on the iPhone. Android phone using Flash can run some sites well but are also discouraged from running large-format video and usually see a significant drop-off in battery life with frequent use.
No response has come from Adobe to the battery findings.