Devin Coldewey, Jackass

Devin Coldewey:

Now here we have Steve Jobs saying in a WSJ interview that using Flash for video would reduce battery life from 10 hours to 1 hour, and suggests H.264 as an alternative.

Where by “WSJ interview” Coldewey means “anonymous paraphrased summary at Gawker of Jobs’s remarks from a private meeting with WSJ staff”. The remarks as reported by Gawker may well be accurate (and they ring true, mostly, to my ears), but to call this a “WSJ interview” is curious.

They’ve got a grudge against Flash and Adobe and they’re going to pursue that to the bitter end. They could call up Adobe and say “Hey guys, Flash is blowing it in our OS, why don’t we get a few guys together and work it out?” But they won’t. They’d rather they had an excuse for railing at it and excluding it from the table. Flash is getting punched in the breadbasket here for no reason other than that Apple doesn’t want to play nice.

Couple of things are wrong here. For one thing, I know for a fact that Apple’s WebKit team does work with Adobe’s Flash Player team. Reports indicate that the upcoming Flash Player 10.1 will perform significantly better on Mac OS X than before.

But “better” does not necessarily mean “good enough”. And “good enough” on multicore 2.5 GHz Core 2 Duo CPUs is a far cry from “good enough” on mobile 1 GHz ARM CPUs. Flash has always sucked performance-wise on Macs. It sucked on Mac OS 9 and has always sucked on Mac OS X. At one point Adobe even let the version of Flash Player for Mac OS lag behind the current version for Windows. (Update: I recall the aforestruck sentence being the case, but can’t find a source to verify it.) Adobe (and before their 2005 acquisition, Macromedia) has had over a decade of chances to show that they’re committed to making Flash Player sing on Apple’s OSes, and they haven’t done it.

And let’s just wait and see how well Flash Player actually runs on Android and WebOS and whatever other mobile platforms where it’s supposedly coming soon.

Friday, 19 February 2010