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Old 04-29-2010, 09:55 AM   #1
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Jobs speaks up about Flash

Well Jobs has spoken. In a press release he makes 6 points on what he sees as problems with Flash and why it is "old technology."

You may not agree with what he has to say, but you can't deny he makes some interesting remarks.

Flash on the iDevice platform, never going to happen. So if that is your requirement for a tablet style device, please shop elsewhere.

Quote:
Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe's founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer, adopting their Postscript language for our new Laserwriter printer. Apple invested in Adobe and owned around 20% of the company for many years. The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products. Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers – Mac users buy around half of Adobe's Creative Suite products – but beyond that there are few joint interests.

I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe's Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

First, there's "Open".

Adobe's Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe's Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards. Apple's mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android's browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft's uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

Second, there's the "full web".

Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access "the full web" because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don't say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web's video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren't missing much video.

Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.

Third, there's reliability, security and performance.

Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don't want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.

In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we're glad we didn't hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?

Fourth, there's battery life.

To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Fifth, there's Touch.

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on "rollovers", which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple's revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn't use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.

Sixth, the most important reason.

Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn't support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor's platforms.

Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe's goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple's platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.

Conclusions.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple's mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 200,000 apps on Apple's App Store proves that Flash isn't necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

Steve Jobs
April, 2010

Last edited by scottjl; 04-29-2010 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 04-29-2010, 10:35 AM   #2
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I thought it was well written and contained a lot of valid points.
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Old 04-29-2010, 11:24 AM   #3
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1. No denying this one. Adobe owns Flash. Control over the features, control over the APIs, control over the development system, control over platforms, control over release schedules. It's all theirs. Funny how people cry that the iDevice OS isn't open but don't make the same complaint about Flash.

2. This is my next to last weakest argument. "Full web experience" is simply a vague complaint. Some sites work, some sites don't. As development moves on more and more sites will shift over to "open standard" technologies like HTML5 and this argument will get stronger. 75% of the web runs flash today, 74% tomorrow. Still a weak point.

3. Flash is an open barn door when it comes to security, this is a known. Adobe has been slow to implement patches, though they are getting better. Still Flash is used and abused by hackers and web sites alike. Most people have no idea what a LSO is, let alone how to secure theirs.

4. Battery life. This is the weakest argument in my opinion. Battery life is too much of a moving target. Yes, Flash is known to drain batteries faster, but if that is something the end user is made aware of and accepts, then so be it. Give them a warning when they enable Flash that their battery life will be cut in half. Simple. No whining that you weren't warned. Battery technologies are improving as well, so today's gadgets run for 5 hours, tomorrow's gadgets run for 7.

5. Can't disagree with this one either, and this affects more than just the iPad, iPhone and Touch. What about that touchscreen HP desktop you just bought? Those Android tablets people are holding out for? Even my Asus eeePC with a touchscreen (that I added in myself) can't do rollovers, just clicks.

6. Yes, this is partially to protect Apple's interests in their OS, but he's got a very valid point here. Every cross-platform development system suffers from the same problem. To be truly cross-platform you code to the lowest denominator or you break cross-platform compatibility and features. If Apple releases an iPhone with a holographic display developers who code in Flash are stuck waiting for Adobe to support it. Joe Public buys the latest iPhone and complains that half his apps don't support this new feature Apple is advertising "FarmVille won't display my cow-poop in 3d! This new iPhone 3D sucks!" Apple takes a black eye. Adobe holds all the cards for Apple and Flash developers to implement APIs to the new 3d technology when they want to. Loss for Apple, loss for developers, loss for end-users and a big win for Adobe.
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Old 04-29-2010, 11:54 AM   #4
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I like to address the first one. As I had this discussion not too long ago in a online web development course.

HTML5 is still a few years away. So why is he even bringing that up? I am glad he admits they basically do the same thing as adobe though, I will give him credit there, but you can't use HTML5 as your arguement if it isn't ready.

2nd point:

Netflix uses silverlight, and they created an App specific to iPhone, but the Youtube app he talks about, the problem is YOU DO NOT GET ALL youtube videos. (I have an iPhone and some of my videos don't work). Adobe is right that, 75% of the web is flash. It is annoying when I try to go to a website and just get ? and not be able to browse the site on my phone.

Third reason

I am not buying it. I mean really not buying it. Also Adobe has shown flash running perfectly on the Droid, so that fails. The security thing, every website has security issues.



Fourth reason, battery life.

Really?

Fifth reason-


Again I am not buying that either since I since touch devices can handle it (again adobe has shown videos).

Sixth Reason-

Apple's stance to continue to put down third party developers. This is why a lot of people do not buy Mac's there is not many alternatives to Apple products.


I am not a Apple Hater, I have MAC OS x on my netbook, and have an iPhone, but these reasons are all flawed to anyone who actually knows something about technology. This seems to be targeted to casual people to convince them to get an iPad.

Honestly I want an iPad, but I am not spending that ridiculous amount of money for one.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rock View Post
I like to address the first one. As I had this discussion not too long ago in a online web development course.

HTML5 is still a few years away. So why is he even bringing that up? I am glad he admits they basically do the same thing as adobe though, I will give him credit there, but you can't use HTML5 as your arguement if it isn't ready.
Have you been using technology long? How long did 802.11N stay in draft until accepted? Years. HTML5 is in use on hundreds of web sites today. Saying it isn't ready and to not use it is a joke.

Quote:
2nd point:

Netflix uses silverlight, and they created an App specific to iPhone, but the Youtube app he talks about, the problem is YOU DO NOT GET ALL youtube videos. (I have an iPhone and some of my videos don't work). Adobe is right that, 75% of the web is flash. It is annoying when I try to go to a website and just get ? and not be able to browse the site on my phone.
Silverlight is no better, and no more open, than Flash is. It's just Microsoft's answer to Flash. We certainly don't want Apple creating yet another alternative. This is where all these plugins become chaos, a plugin for Flash, a plugin for Silverlight, a plugin for the-next-thing. We end up with browser instability (how many times has a plugin crashed your Firefox? IE? Operating system?) Plugins bring great flexibility, and great headaches.

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Third reason

I am not buying it. I mean really not buying it. Also Adobe has shown flash running perfectly on the Droid, so that fails. The security thing, every website has security issues.
If it was running perfectly, then why isn't it released yet? Why have they pushed it back time and time again? Something isn't right yet.

This also isn't about website security issues, he's speaking about security issues on your desktop. Attack vectors through the Flash plugin running in your browser. Hackers taking over your system through Flash bugs, bugs that Adobe has a history of being very slow, over a year in some cases, to patch.

Quote:
Fifth reason-


Again I am not buying that either since I since touch devices can handle it (again adobe has shown videos).
Yes, some sites work just fine, and some sites, those with roll-overs, don't. Take it from someone who has a touch-screen device, roll-over controls, those where you simply point your mouse cursor at something but do not click don't work. You can't hover your finger over a touch screen and have a cursor follow your finger. You have to touch the screen, which registers a press.

Simple solution, is to not code hover elements at all.

Quote:
Sixth Reason-

Apple's stance to continue to put down third party developers. This is why a lot of people do not buy Mac's there is not many alternatives to Apple products.
huh? how does Apple put down 3rd party developers by not allowing them to use Adobe's development system over Apple's? Apple's protecting their interests, just as Adobe is trying to do.

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Honestly I want an iPad, but I am not spending that ridiculous amount of money for one.
So the real reason you don't have an iPad is you don't want to pay for it.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:15 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rock View Post

HTML5 is still a few years away. So why is he even bringing that up? I am glad he admits they basically do the same thing as adobe though, I will give him credit there, but you can't use HTML5 as your arguement if it isn't ready.
The HTML5 spec isn't finalized, but Safari, Chrome, and Firefox (and the forthcoming IE9) all support at least subsets of it. You can, for instance, serve an H.264 video using an HTML5 embed for Safari/Chrome and serve the same video via a Flash wrapper for older browsers. There's no reason not to start offering HTML5 solutions now if you want to reach the broadest possible audience.

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Also Adobe has shown flash running perfectly on the Droid, so that fails.
Adobe promo videos aside, it remains to be seen how Flash will work in real-world application on mobile platforms. I suspect the forthcoming versions will be much better than Adobe's previous attempts, but that's not saying all that much given how awful Flash Lite was.


Quote:
Fourth reason, battery life.

Really?
Yes, really. Load up Hulu or YouTube on a MacBook running on battery and see what happens. Now consider what will happen with a much smaller battery and much less capable hardware.

Quote:
Again I am not buying that either since I since touch devices can handle it (again adobe has shown videos).
Actually I think that this is the most compelling argument against Flash on mobile devices. The fact that a touch device can "handle" Flash doesn't mean it's going to be remotely usable on a lot of sites which were designed for 800px and up monitors and a mouse/keyboard interface. Sure, it may technically "work" on a phone, but the experience will be kludgy and frustrating.

All that being said, I think Apple would be well-advised to allow an Adobe-developed Flash app on the iDevices - as a discrete app rather than an integrated plugin, it would protect the integrity of the platform, and people could find out well Flash does (or doesn't) work on the iPhone OS.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:18 PM   #7
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Reasonably fair right up.

But at the end of the day, all that matters for users is that sites that use Flash won't work on the iPad. End users have no reason to care about Apple's justifications for not supporting it nor allowing apps to support it etc.

It's not a deal breaker for me in a tablet, since I'd still do most of my web browsing on laptops and desktops anyway. But until the net changes to where most video is in HTML 5 etc., having Flash would be a huge plus for a tablet when I'm deciding which one to buy. At least on the iPad I can get some Youtube videos, Netflix, Abc.com with apps--and soon hulu as well. But that still misses out on CBS (don't think most of their stuff is on Hulu), ESPN360, and of course porn!
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:23 PM   #8
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Please read this about HTML5. they want 2012, but it could be 2022. So why talk about a technology that could be 10 years away? 2012 IS THE EARLIEST. It is stupid to say well HTML5 when they will probably be up to their 3rd revision of the iPad by then.


Adobe said early 2010? when has it been pushed back again? It is because they want want to run on MULITPLE Mobile devices. Not every device has the same operating system.

hate to tell you, but I have never had a plug-in crash my PC. I stream Netflix all the time on my netbook using My Mac OS and my Win 7 no issues. I never had a flash plug-in or Java plug-in crash my PC. Drivers yes, but not plug-ins, unless you are using plug-ins that are probably not tested.

Also hackers take over your system using flash? Really? Hackers can take over your system using anything. Sorry it is a bad excuse.

No the real reason I don't want an iPad because it is not worth 500 dollars, when I can do basically everything minus iBooks on my iPhone. I said I want an iPad, don't put words in my mouth.

Seriously I am not bias, but obviously you are (had a look at your other posts).
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:24 PM   #9
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But that still misses out on CBS (don't think most of their stuff is on Hulu), ESPN360, and of course porn!
Actually, CBS shows are available from the TV.com app, which presumably will have a native iPad app before long. That being said, the reviews for the app are, to put it mildly, rather unkind (as in, it's terrible and doesn't really work).

As far as porn goes, I heard on some tech podcast that a lot of porn sites were already offering HTML5 video to catch the iPad/iPhone audience. Haven't investigated that to see if it's true...
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:27 PM   #10
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The HTML5 spec isn't finalized, but Safari, Chrome, and Firefox (and the forthcoming IE9) all support at least subsets of it. You can, for instance, serve an H.264 video using an HTML5 embed for Safari/Chrome and serve the same video via a Flash wrapper for older browsers. There's no reason not to start offering HTML5 solutions now if you want to reach the broadest possible audience.



Adobe promo videos aside, it remains to be seen how Flash will work in real-world application on mobile platforms. I suspect the forthcoming versions will be much better than Adobe's previous attempts, but that's not saying all that much given how awful Flash Lite was.




Yes, really. Load up Hulu or YouTube on a MacBook running on battery and see what happens. Now consider what will happen with a much smaller battery and much less capable hardware.



Actually I think that this is the most compelling argument against Flash on mobile devices. The fact that a touch device can "handle" Flash doesn't mean it's going to be remotely usable on a lot of sites which were designed for 800px and up monitors and a mouse/keyboard interface. Sure, it may technically "work" on a phone, but the experience will be kludgy and frustrating.

All that being said, I think Apple would be well-advised to allow an Adobe-developed Flash app on the iDevices - as a discrete app rather than an integrated plugin, it would protect the integrity of the platform, and people could find out well Flash does (or doesn't) work on the iPhone OS.

Saw this after I posted.

but the flash kills battery life, no ANYTHING that uses resources kiling battery life. That is like me saying put a dvd in and watch a movie and watch your battery life die. You can't pin that just on flash. That is why I said really. It is a poor excuse. Using apple apps to watch stuff on my iPhone kills the battery.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:32 PM   #11
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http://www.webmonkey.com/2008/09/htm..._yes__2022dot/

Please read this about HTML5. they want 2012, but it could be 2022. So why talk about a technology that could be 10 years away? 2012 IS THE EARLIEST.
HTML5 isn't 10 years away, or even 2. It's here now, today. The fact that the spec hasn't been formally adopted hasn't stopped modern browsers from supporting it. Not sure what is so hard to understand about this.

And no one is suggesting that sites should immediately drop Flash and switch solely to HTML5 - just that it would be a good idea to offer an HTML5 option if you want to get as many eyeballs on your content as possible. It's not an either/or proposition.

Quote:

hate to tell you, but I have never had a plug-in crash my PC. I stream Netflix all the time on my netbook using My Mac OS and my Win 7 no issues. I never had a flash plug-in or Java plug-in crash my PC. Drivers yes, but not plug-ins, unless you are using plug-ins that are probably not tested.
If you've never had a plug-in crash your browser, you're either extraordinarily lucky or you're just not paying attention. That said, I think that sentence was poorly worded on Jobs' part - I have no problem believing that Flash is the number one cause of Safari crashes, but browser crash != OS crash, which is what his statement implied.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:36 PM   #12
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Saw this after I posted.

but the flash kills battery life, no ANYTHING that uses resources kiling battery life. That is like me saying put a dvd in and watch a movie and watch your battery life die. You can't pin that just on flash. That is why I said really. It is a poor excuse. Using apple apps to watch stuff on my iPhone kills the battery.
Apparently you didn't read Job's point on Flash killing batteries faster.

Quote:
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software.
Yes, doing anything on a device will drain the battery. Jobs is just pointing out that Flash, using software decoding, will drain it faster, rendering the battery life on an iDevice to a level he feels is unacceptable.

If you read my response earlier, I say it's a weak argument. Let the buyer beware and make their own decision. Run Flash and only have 2-3 hours of battery life, or view h.264 video (which uses dedicated hardware decoding) and double your battery life.

Jobs goes on further to explain that while Desktop implementations of Flash are now beginning to support h.264 video, that if developers are going to go through the process to convert their video to h.264, why not just use an open-standard as HTML5 for the container format than continue to use Flash. HTML5 is an open format, on the way to becoming a web standard (in 2 years, or in 12, Flash will never be an open standard format), and available on many platforms and in many browsers.

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Old 04-29-2010, 12:36 PM   #13
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Saw this after I posted.

but the flash kills battery life, no ANYTHING that uses resources kiling battery life. That is like me saying put a dvd in and watch a movie and watch your battery life die. You can't pin that just on flash. That is why I said really. It is a poor excuse. Using apple apps to watch stuff on my iPhone kills the battery.
Yeah, the key question is whether Flash kills battery any faster than other types of streaming video software. If it does (and it's a MAJOR difference), then it's a fair point. If not, then it's kind of moot.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:37 PM   #14
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He said PC crash, not broswer crash. Hence I never had a PC crash using a plug-in.

I know there is some HTML5 being used but it isn't going to take over the internet for a few years.

It is bad argument right now, when people want it Right now. That is all I am saying.

For some people who want to know if you can run HTML5
http://html5test.com/


To my Knowledge only Safari is really good at it, where Firefox and Chrome are trying to work on it.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:41 PM   #15
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consider yourself lucky if a plugin has never brought down your computer. i've had plugins (not just Flash) bring down Windows XP, Windows 7, and the Mac OS. and I've had them bring down browsers, including Chrome (which is my current favorite) even more frequently. the only OS i can say that hasn't been brought to its knees by a plugin has been Linux. The browser may bomb out, but the OS is rock solid.
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