So, did Steve Jobs Kill Flash? What does this mean for Type on he web?

designpuck's picture

Is Adobe Flash dead? (And, was it Steve Jobs in Cupertino with the candlestick holder?) Here's the article from Slate: Slate: Did Steve Jobs Just Kill Flash?

What does this mean for typography on the web? (Heck, what would this mean for typophile.com?)

How about motion graphics on the web? Or is this a VCR / Betamax situation—answerable simply by asking which does the porn industry support? There's an excerpt (the "they" refers to Adobe):

"They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash.

No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5."

hrant's picture

Lazy?!
People don't write for Carbon for the same reason most viruses are for Windows: installed base! And that's also the reason Jobs can't kill anything as huge as Flash (although apparently he can kill good typography). If HTML5 does end up killing Flash, Jobs cannot take any of the credit.

And the crashing business is pure hogwash. No proper operating system can leave itself at the mercy of a browser plug-in!

hhp

_Palatine_'s picture

When Apple sneezes, the rest of the industry grabs a Kleenex.

Even if Jobs in passing mentioned HTML5, you can bet there's going to be a lot of re-coding and transitioning going on.

blank's picture

I think Steve actually has to sell a significant number of devices before Adobe has to worry about him killing Flash. Even if every Mac user buys an iPhone/iPad tomorrow Apple’s Flashless devices will still have a smaller user base than Opera or Chrome, neither of which is relevant commercially. And the iPad could very well be the next Apple TV, which, like the iPad, was great, awesome, amazing, and totally going to destroy a bunch of stuff, and has turned out to be little more than a hacking platform for basement dwellers who lack the social skills required to play WoW.

But I do think that all this speculation is a sign that Flash is on its way out. A few years ago Flash/Flex seemed to have a brilliant future ahead and now we’re all salivating at the thought of a web with no Flash at all. If this is an omen of how we can expect feelings about Flash to trend it seems like the Adobe/Macromedia buyout will be right up there with AOL buying Time Warner in the history of corporate takovers gone horribly wrong.

samurai's picture

@James: What does modifying an AppleTV have to do with "basement dwellers who lack the social skills required to play WoW" ? Does that also apply to people who jailbreak their iPhones, or other forms of hacking that improve a device?

Steve Jobs and Apple will have little or nothing to do with the acceptance of HTML5 nor the killing of Flash on the web. Like any web standard, it takes years for adoption rates to catch up. IE6 was *just* bumped by IE8 in most-used browser in the world. HTML5 does not work in IE6, but it does play Flash. If a web browser nearly a decade old is still being used by this many people, it's going to take a very long time for HTML5 to completely replace Flash as a go-to source for video on the web. Flash is still a great platform for online games, as well, something you won't see replaced by HTML5 anytime soon. So while the battle lines may have been drawn by the outspoken Apple leader, it represents very little more than the frustrations of one man lashing out at a company he wishes would develop software that worked better on his OS. That gripe, of course, is a two way street.

HTML5 is here, it's great, and it simplifies a lot of things. But it's going to have to share the spotlight with Flash at best, and that's not going to change anytime soon.

aluminum's picture

Flash has been wallowing in the hands of Adobe for some time. They bought it hoping it was a magic pill but didn't do a whole lot with it.

It's not dead, for sure, but HTML5, Canvas, jQuery and other solid JS libraries combined have all been gaining quite a bit of momentum as a solid replacement for a lot of what Flash currently does for us on the web.

Steve Jobs has merely lent a LOT MORE momentum to the cause.

"People don't write for Carbon for the same reason most viruses are for Windows: installed base!"

That's incorrect and I'm not sure what that has to do with Flash.

"And that's also the reason Jobs can't kill anything as huge as Flash"

Not alone, of course. But there are plenty of folks more than happy to let Flash go by the wayside for a lot of things.

And the future of the commercial web is mobile. And mobile = iPhone, so people are definitely factoring this into the equation.

As for what it means for web typography? Not much. If anything, it just leaves more room open for @font-face support.

blank's picture

What does modifying an AppleTV have to do with "basement dwellers who lack the social skills required to play WoW"

Get a sense of humor, man. That was a jab at AppleTV being such a failure that even self-respecting gearheads don’t mess with it.

aluminum's picture

"Apple’s Flashless devices will still have a smaller user base than Opera or Chrome"

Chrome is based on webkit, as is Safari on the iPhone. It's also owned by Google. Google is more than happy to go they way of HTML5 (they're already rolling it out on YouTube as an alternative to Flash).

And, with 60 million+ iphones/iTouches out there, it's not necessarily a number to sneeze at.

"Like any web standard, it takes years for adoption rates to catch up."

Usually true. No so much with HTML5 though. I'm rather amazed at how fast it's picking up speed...even as it's not a final standard yet.

I agree, however, that it's not a replacement for Flash. However, it will replace a lot of what Flash takes care of us for on the web. Flash will still be there for gaming, and, if Adobe is smart, Flash as an IDE will stick around and perhaps output HTML5/CSS/Canvas markup for us.

hrant's picture

> mobile = iPhone

That's pretty ridiculous (and will be completely so over time).

hhp

aluminum's picture

James, the Apple TV makes a pretty good Boxee Box. (Though I'm patiently waiting for the 'real' Boxee Box so I can hook it up to my TV in my basement since I can't figure out WoW [or even Facebook].)

aluminum's picture

"That's pretty ridiculous"

I can't speak for you neck of the woods, but in the US, it accounts for 30% of the mobile market.

blank's picture

Well I apologize to any hardware hackers I have offended. I’m off to research new-old-stock vacuum tubes for my amplifier now…

maxgraphic's picture

The "Carbon" comment is puzzling, and I wonder if Steve meant Cocoa. Carbon is the intermediate API that bridges OS 9 and OS X. Carbon apps can run on either, and I believe all Adobe apps except Lightroom use Carbon.

What Adobe hasn't done is rewrite Photoshop and the rest of their Creative Suite in Cocoa, which they'll need to do to make their apps 64-bit and for other technical advantages.

As for Flash, I'd say the sooner it's forgotten, the better. What a blight. I suppose it can linger for games, but using it as a video player or, let's say, for inline font rendering is like using a flame thrower to light a cigarette.

Stefan Seifert's picture

Wow, interesting discussion.
I wonder only what will be the future possibilities of using the very typeface I want in Internet not depending on what the user has installed on his system. For me, personally, that’s what it’s all about.
Because I definitely refuse to go on designing websites that show mostly Arial, Times, Georgia and so on.
Why are the no moves in this direction? To be able to set texts in whatever typeface (I mean that ones I have legaly acquired) I like without making a JPG of it or using Flash.

Is there simply to little interest in the world to think about a tiny question like this?

Stefan

CurveDoctor's picture

IE6 was *just* bumped by IE8 in most-used browser in the world.

And there is no Flash player yet for IE8! (64bit) Steve might be correct with "Adobe lazy".
Adobe has a record of killing the stuff they bought.
Flash was the last environment allowing razorsharp small pixel fonts across platforms.

Single pixel rest in peace.

Rob O. Font's picture

Great Comments!

> I wonder if Steve meant Cocoa.

I'm sure he did.

>...[Flash] for inline font rendering is like using a flame thrower to...

to warm a baby, imho.

The interesting thing to me about this discussion is that Adobe font technology was good enough for Next, and a render-alike version was good enough for "Quartz Type" on the Mac. Yet when Apple put a lot of effort, they were not lazy, into developing TT, (font technology less lazy than Adobe's), where'd ya put it Steve?

Cheers!

hrant's picture

> Flash was the last environment allowing
> razorsharp small pixel fonts across platforms.

And who made us have to depend on Flash for this?

>> I wonder if Steve meant Cocoa.
> I'm sure he did.

I understand that salesmen aren't very technical, but come on!

hhp

Richard Fink's picture

@stefan seifert
I wonder only what will be the future possibilities of using the very typeface I want in Internet not depending on what the user has installed on his system. For me, personally, that’s what it’s all about.
Why are there no moves in this direction?

There's plenty of moves in this direction. IE, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome all have reasonably functional implementations of @font-face. Opera, less so, but at least it seems to be on their minds. As it should.
Firefox 3.6 was just released with support for the compressed font-wrapper format WOFF. Plus a major bug regarding synthesized bolding was fixed. Looks pretty solid now.
Much more is known now as to how a cross-browser implementation needs to be handled in the CSS.
There are tools and test pages and how-to information on the way that will make it easier for web developers to compress fonts, subset fonts, and view fonts in the browser.
There are JavaScript techniques being developed to smooth out the differences between implementations.

I, too, am sick to death of looking at Georgia, Arial, and Verdana.

There's plenty going on.

Rich

Chris Dean's picture

[tracking]

henrypijames's picture

The "American liberal elites" are (once again) dramatically overestimating the power and influence of Apple in the computer and Internet world at large. It's both comical and tragic how helplessly these intelligent and otherwise rational people fall for this (admittedly charismatic) cult leader named Jobs.

hrant's picture

Lust is big in the West.

hhp

dezcom's picture

Flash needed a wake-up call anyway.

aluminum's picture

"The "American liberal elites" are (once again) dramatically overestimating the power and influence of Apple in the computer and Internet world at large."

Please be citing actual facts and figures to back up your counter-claim rather than silly Fox News-esque punditry language.

While I have much respect for hrant on subject matters above and beyond type, the silly 'Mac people are snobs' arguments are petty at best.

I'm not trying to defend Apple, but am trying to defend rational debate.

henrypijames, as for Apple's influence, at least 'in the West', it's quite easily measured via sales and market penetration. One can certainly debate the charisma of the CEO and the hype that surrounds the products, but it's hard to argue against the facts and figures. If one is building web sites, indeed, Apple has a strong influence on things.

hrant, lust is, indeed, a big thing in the west. If it results in more people buying more Apple products, we can argue about whether that's a good thing or not, but the basic fact that it's influencing how the web works is harder to ignore.

And remember, this isn't "just Apple" that's going down this path. MS has little interest in pushing for Flash when they have their own SilverLight struggling to find a home. Google seems more than ready to shift away from it if they want to (they're already doing it with YouTube.)

Again, flash isn't going to disappear tomorrow, but there are going to be many more valid options to choose from sitting in the web developers tool box.

aluminum's picture

This came across my radar today:

http://designarchives.aiga.org/

The AIGA (an org that I'd argue tends to trend more towards print/advertising and, therefore Flash) redesigned the design archives site (which was originally all done in Flash). The redesign was done by Second Story (a well known interactive firm that is primarily known for the very heavy, albeit lush Flash web sites).

The redesign uses no Flash. All Javascript.

hrant's picture

Facts? I hope you don't expect an empirical psychological study, from either side of the argument. BTW, I actually don't mind a bit of snobbery. What I mind is frivolous, delusional consumerism.

hhp

aluminum's picture

"What I mind is frivolous, delusional consumerism."

Yea, I'm not fond of that either.

But whether one is fond of that or not doesn't really change the sales figures of Apple. ;/

henrypijames's picture

For "rational debate", why don't we start with the fact that the overwhelming majority of computer (including cell phones, media players and gaming consoles) users (particularly those outside the US) don't use any Apple devices?

BTW, I have nothing against the American liberal elites, and I put that term in quotes so as to indicate that I wasn't referring to the actual group, but only the subset that fall within the cliche.

aluminum's picture

"the overwhelming majority of computer (including cell phones, media players and gaming consoles)"

Again, I have no idea what's going on in Germany. Maybe Flash has a long and prosperous life ahead of itself there. Without a doubt, Apple doesn't fare as well in foreign markets with it's silly pricing over seas.

But in the US, that statement isn't that accurate. Apple is the leading mobile device company in the US. It sells more web connectible mobile devices than anyone else. It may not be in the MAJORITY of people's hands, but to say it doesn't have any influence is naive. It is also quickly becoming one of the most popular gaming devices (if not a console).

quadibloc's picture

There was a recent news item about how Flash could be used to fill memory with repeaed patterns so as to largely vitiate a precaution Microsoft takes against buffer overflow exploits by locating parts of programs at random locations in memory instead of the same place each time.

Given that an iPad is a telephone, security is very critical on such a device; subverting its software could switch it into modes that allow intercepting other people's telephone conversations. On the other hand, surfing the web from a cell phone is expensive, and so I doubt that Adobe's Flash will disappear just because it is not accessible from one device.

Although many computer users find that it makes web sites annoyingly slow - and they value speed and usability over looking pretty. This is not an unreasonable attitude to take, and so web designers who use things like Flash excessively, or where it does not relate well to the purpose of the site, do so at the site's peril.

Chris Dean's picture

For reference, see this article on "The Splinternet." I myself am glad to see device specific technologies go the way of the Dodo. < grumpy old man > When I was a boy, we did fine without Flash, and we liked it! < /grumpy old man >

Rob O. Font's picture

The Splinternet link is dead, I think.

Cheers!

hrant's picture

Darrel, I personally believe -and hope- that Android will stunt the iPhone/iPad's further spread, if not eventually kill it completely. Why? Because I don't like hypeware.

hhp

henrypijames's picture

@Darrel: Nobody said Apple had "no influence" -- if that were the case, I wouldn't call Jobs a cult leader (a friend of mine actually came up with this devastatingly acute analogy). But in order to "kill" a technology, you need to have monopoly (or at least oligopoly) power over the entire field in which that technology is applied. Flash is used on all kinds of web devices (and hardly anywhere else), and Apple doesn't have a monopoly -- or anything close to it -- on the web. In fact, its share of the browser market is below 5% -- in other words, not just small, but almost negligible.

k.l.'s picture

H.P. -- Darrel, I personally believe -and hope- that Android will stunt the iPhone/iPad's further spread, if not eventually kill it completely.

So you think that replacing one evil (hyping toys) by another (hosting our data and generously granting us permission to access them) helps?  ;-)

henrypijames's picture

Android is open architecture, which is a very sound foundation for data security. Android can be used without Google, while iPhone becomes useless without App Store. That's not a superficial, but essential difference.

aluminum's picture

hrant: no doubt, IMHO that that will be the case. Apple and Google will dominate the mobile market for a while, I'm sure.

That said, I don't think Google has any particular fondness for Adobe, either.

As for the 'hypeware' comment, well, that's silly, as Android is a hyped as much as iPhone OS. ;o)

_Palatine_'s picture

When Apple sneezes, the rest of the industry grabs a Kleenex.

If Flash was already slowly on the way out, it's just been put on a bullet train headed over a cliff.

The anti-Flash movement is being fuelled by Apple and Google. There is only one way this can end well for Adobe:

Adobe reads the writing on the wall and creates tools for HTML5.

aluminum's picture

henry: the debate regarding flash, at the moment, is pretty much about the mobile web. And there, Apple, while not in a monopoly position, is definitely in a majority stakeholder position of corporate decision-maker mindsets.

I agree, no one is single-handedly killing Flash.

"Android can be used without Google, while iPhone becomes useless without App Store. That's not a superficial, but essential difference."

Agreed. However, I don't think one will necessarily trump the other. They'll likely co-exist targeting slightly different demographics.

henrypijames's picture

Whether Apple is "definitely in a majority stakeholder position of corporate decision-maker mindsets", I have serious doubts. But even assuming it is, what tells you that the future of Flash -- or any other web technology -- is dependent on "corporate decision-maker mindsets"? The web is not Wall St., trends are actually set by the masses, not Pointy-Haired Bosses. And even though the mobile market is fast growing, it has a long way to go before it gets deal-breaking influence over the web.

Don't get me wrong, I disdain flash as much as the next guy. (The only thing I like about it are the brand new advanced typography features, which aren't in use yet.) On the other hand, I disdain Apple even more.

aluminum's picture

I'm not convinced the masses are in disagreement with the pointy-haired bosses on the topic of Flash. ;o)

hrant's picture

BTW Darrel, Apple is not on top - Symbian is.

Also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8496263.stm

hhp

henrypijames's picture

The reason Flash became a quasi-standard back then was not because Macromedia had a monopoly (which it didn't, with Adobe always being the bigger player), but because it was the decisively superior technology at the time (over competitions like SVG, which Adobe was trying to back, though in the most pathetic manner imaginable). Now Flash has become omnipresent, it requires at least a technologically equal alternative to displace it, even by a monopolistic platform provider. The problem is that HTML5, JavaScript and SVG are still no match for Flash in the visual department (vector animation, advance typography etc.), so there's no immediately available replacement in sight.

To summarize, the death of Flash by the hand of Apple would require (1) Apple becoming a monopolistic mobile provider (which isn't happening with Google joining the game), and (2) mobile becoming a deciding factor for the web (which will happen eventually, but not in the next few years), and (3) Apple starting to embrace competing technologies (which it hasn't so far -- in fact, Apple was a major blocker of the recently failed HTML5 Video standardization attempt), and (4) the alternatives out-innovating Flash (which is extremely difficult given the snail pace at which W3C and co. move compared to Adobe) . None of those conditions is being met, ergo Apple killing Flash is simply a joke.

aluminum's picture

hrant: yes, I know. Again, US marketshare is what I was referring to.

henry: I agree, but we're not talking about any sort of 'wholesale' replacement. Flash does a lot of things that can be now replaced with many other things. There's still room for Flash, but it's role will be diminished.

Again, I don't think anyone is saying Apple is killing Flash all by itself. It's just a fairly large straw sitting on the camel's back.

hrant's picture

> US marketshare is what I was referring to.

Why?

hhp

aluminum's picture

"Why?"

Because I'm no expert on world wide mobile device platforms. That said...

A curious chart here on market share world wide:

http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/05/27/comparing-smartphone-market...

If I read it correctly, Symbian is definitely the largest handset OS provider in the world. However, in terms of using the mobile device to access the web, iPhone is way up there.

I'm not entirely sure what that means. Perhaps iPhone users waste too much time surfing the web or perhaps Symbian OS is installed on a lot of devices that aren't really suited for actual web browsing.

henrypijames's picture

So we're not talking about the end of Flash, but the end of the massive overuse of Flash? Well, that is indeed happening (thank God), but the mobile market has extremely little to do with it. The driving force isn't Apple or even Google, it's Mozilla, who, until the recent arrival of Chrome, was the only open-architecture fast-innovator capable (both principally and technologically) of challenging Adobe.

CurveDoctor's picture

Web designers use iPhones!

(and want to check site on phone :-)

aluminum's picture

Well, I was, but I suppose the title of this thread DID use 'kill' so perhaps that's what everyone else is talking about.

Mobile has quite a bit to do with hit, though. We recently rolled out a project where we needed a bit of animation and fancier user interface elements. We could have used Flash, but gave jQuery + Canvas/SVG a shot and found that it did everything we needed it to do.

So, all other things being equal, the fact that a) it didn't require a plugin and b) would work on all the bosses iPhones made it an easy decision.

I usually loathe the pace of innovation that the web browsers take, but between Google, Apple and Mozilla, it's rather shocking how fast things are changing (IE, aside, of course).

As an aside, note that Chrome is based on Webkit, which Apple uses for Safari.

Chris Dean's picture

Repost: (due to broken link)

For reference, see this article on The Splinternet. I myself am glad to see device specific technologies go the way of the Dodo. < grumpy old man > When I was a boy, we did fine without Flash, and we liked it! < /grumpy old man >

henrypijames's picture

Chrome is open source and contributes properly upstream to Webkit, while Safari isn't and doesn't any more. As it grows more complex, Safari will become less and less compatible with other Webkit-based browsers and eventually evolve into a distinct species (note that the font rendering of Safari is already different from others).

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