Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Steve Jobs on Flash

Posted on 30 April 2010 15 comments

Article illustration for Steve Jobs on Flash

A few hours ago, Steve Jobs made a public statement about Apple’s attitude toward Flash by posting ‘Thoughts On Flash’ on the Apple site and, in doing so, set the record straight about why Flash won’t be on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Or, in Johno’s words:

Ouch! Jobs thrusts his toes firmly into Adobe’s groin.

~ John Boardley

I enjoyed reading what Steve had to say. Yes, it was probably written by a whole bunch of people. Yes, it was probably done for business reasons that were conveniently skirted over in the post. And yes, it’s only one side of the story. But what I liked about it was not necessarily the actual content; it was that Steve / Apple decided to directly address the web design and development community. This was not a post aimed at personal trainers who own iPod Shuffles — this was about speaking to us: the people who care about things like HTML5 and CSS3; the people making the web of today and sculpting the web of tomorrow.

However naysayers may criticise Steve Jobs and his statement — and there are certainly fair criticisms to be made (I’m not anti-Adobe or anti-Flash by any means (back in the day I was an all-Flash guy)) — it’s encouraging to be reminded that the owner of such a huge business is still a developer at heart. As Jason said:

I like when Steve Jobs mentions ‘typography’. Even in passing.

~ Jason Santa Maria

Amen to that, as they say.

EDIT, 30.04.2010: After posting this, I thought a bit more about what this might mean, as it’s clear that Jobs’ statement is effectively severing Apple’s relationship with Adobe. This was backed up by Kevin Lynch’s response. So, with that in mind, are there larger things afoot? Does Apple have plans for a Photoshop / Creative Suite killer? I’d certainly hope so, because I know I’m not alone in being extremely frustrated with Photoshop (although I love InDesign) and given Apple’s track record with pro-level creative apps (think how Final Cut Pro rightfully stole Premiere’s place in the post production industry), you can bet it’d be good. And there’s nothing like a healthy bit of competition, anyway.

[Illustration: Wikipedia]


  1. Topher


    30 April 2010 @ 02:44AM #

    You don’t address the content of his post, and wisely so (no one wants another that post I imagine). So while I’d like to point out that Quicktime on apple.com is proof that Jobs/Apple stance on HTML5 is purely self interested, I won’t. Oh, wait. Ooops.

    It would be nice to agree with you, but unfortunately I have to take a different view. Coming out to speak to us is one thing; coming out to mislead is another. An open dialogue is something I can respect, a Sarah Palin-esq eruption of half truths I cannot.

  2. Alex Rogahn

    Alex Rogahn

    30 April 2010 @ 03:12AM #

    Adobe and Apple are as bad as each other. They’re acting like little children. Apple is bitching about Adobe’s products being made badly and Adobe is whining about Apple’s decision to keep their products free of buggy software. Both of them are selfish and greedy corporate giants, that just so happen to make the only (decent) industry standard software and hardware respectably. Both over price and both drive me insane.

  3. John Allsopp

    John Allsopp

    30 April 2010 @ 03:28AM #

    The elephant in the room here is obj-c and cocoa touch. If Apple really did value web tech to the extent they suggest here they’d not make these second class citizens on iPhone and iPad. Well IMO


  4. David Siegfried

    David Siegfried

    30 April 2010 @ 03:36AM #

    I think with all the shit floating around concerning flash and apple and the world of design technology and mobile browsing as we know it colliding in web media, it is nice to hear the words from the horses mouth.

    I have a certain amount of respect for that (and I really had none for apple until this point). Sure, it is self interested, but really, who isn’t? And when it comes to which technologies I want to be part of creating, ‘old ones’ or ‘new ones’? I pick new every time.

  5. Nathan Staines

    Nathan Staines

    30 April 2010 @ 03:50AM #

    I don’t know, I happened to think the points brought up in the article seemed to make sense to me.

    So what if Apple decides to include or not include Flash in their products, does ones experience of the device change? Well according to the thoughts of Steve they would, but not for the better.

  6. Andy Marshall

    Andy Marshall

    30 April 2010 @ 02:56PM #

    While I’m no massive fan of Apple, I’m no massive fan of Flash either. I can completely understand and agree with Steve’s points on why Flash has very little future from a technological and an open standards point of view, I just don’t buy his first argument about open vs closed.

    I can see the argument that on something like the iPhone, while their platform (and the Apps environment etc) are completely closed, the web browser element of it is pro open standards… and that the iPad is all about consuming the web. I can also applaud efforts made by Apple (and Google) in promoting and advancing HTML5, CSS3 etc on webkit browsers (both mobile and desktop).

    Where my problem lies is in case that one of the primary selling points of, and ways people use their iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch is through the app store, and whilst it may not be an open browser, it is as much a part of how people “consume the web” as a device.

    That Apple and Google disagree on the future of web apps vs native apps, to me shows that Google have got it right in a fully open approach, and that Apple are split between two worlds – an open web browser and a closed platform that is all the same made to access the web.

    I would prefer to see Apple put their efforts into pushing the open web even further such that we wouldn’t need a completely closed, propitiatory and vendor specific App environment to create innovative, focused and user friendly open web apps in the browser.

  7. Mark McCorkell

    Mark McCorkell

    30 April 2010 @ 03:58PM #

    I would really love to see Apple bring out a CS Killer for sure! I bet it would work a hell of a lot better too!

  8. Andy Marshall

    Andy Marshall

    30 April 2010 @ 04:46PM #

    @mark i don’t doubt that at all. Release even a half decent alternative and every Mac using webdesigner would jump ship straight away. I think it’s only a matter of time… afaik, Final Cut Pro is en route for a major overhaul…

  9. Zen Savona

    Zen Savona

    30 April 2010 @ 05:01PM #

    Ah what an exciting time to be on the market for a Mac.

    I find it rather amusing that Jobs bickers like a child, although its more likely that this post is just sending a really clear message to us as developers that there isn’t and will never be flash support on any Apple portable device.

    Would love to see something equivalent to CS by Apple!

  10. Mark McCorkell

    Mark McCorkell

    30 April 2010 @ 05:13PM #

    @Andy I think people would definitely trust an Apple Design/Developer product much easier too. Adobe have been leaving Designers/Developers strung out for years now with bugs and software crashes. I know when I open my Apple software that it will work. When I work in Fireworks I save things erratically half expecting it to punch me on the nose and crash. :-)

  11. Andy Marshall

    Andy Marshall

    01 May 2010 @ 12:02AM #

    Definitely – that’s the very strong position that Apple find themselves to be in. Too little serious competition has meant Adobe have gotten lazy… they also forget that the majority of forward thinking “creative types” – the web designers, graphic designers etc are on Macs and only use PS out of necessity / lack of alternatives.

    Interestingly, I have no significant problems using any Adobe products on my Windows 7 PC – I very rarely get crashes, and apart from the frankly bizarre 8,192 bytes bug in Dreamweaver CS3 I have a pretty smooth ride of things… :)

    but I’m also aware that it would take much for Apple to release their own Creative Suite with Final Cut Pro, a PS alternate, and some innovative desktop publishing product and Adobe would have a very hard time competing. With Apple riding with so much public goodwill, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a year or two, webdesigning on a Mac will no longer be the standard option, and become the only option.

    As long as Apple don’t screw it up and become “the Man”, as Jon Stewart put it!

  12. Alex Older

    Alex Older

    02 May 2010 @ 02:25PM #

    It would be great to see a CS killer from Apple but I feel Jobs’ comments are directly related to the web and not other things like desktop publishing.

    Maybe he sits searching twitter for ‘spinning beach balls’ and seeing what they relate to.

  13. Francis Booth

    Francis Booth

    03 May 2010 @ 11:06PM #

    On Apple creating a Creative Suite killer (or Photoshop at least):

    Apple have already changed the audio software game. Digidesign is rebranding to parent company Avid, and their ProTools (especially the new instrument plugin packs) are plummeting in price and soaring in terms of functionality, and gorgeousity of UI. This is solely due to the leaps and bounds Logic has made since being taken under Apple’s wing… and importantly Logic’s pricing.

    Looking at the Creative Suite in this light, with regards to complexity and necessity of the latest features, Adobe’s pricing seems all out of proportion.

    Photoshop needs some serious competition so that it prices itself realistically, Apple are well place for this and I for one would love to see what they’d bring to the table.

  14. mikeo


    04 May 2010 @ 12:59AM #

    i also like the fact that apple addressed the issue face on no dancing around the bush. this is why we are doing it. period. like it or lump it they made a choice and good for them. If people don’t like it buy a pc. i really don’t understand what all the hubub is about. pretty straight forward if you ask me.


  15. Michael Hall

    Michael Hall

    05 May 2010 @ 05:28PM #

    it is good that he spoke to us developers. whether or not they boycott each other is their prerogative, but i’d much prefer they just present their own products with friendly comparisons, talking down about the other guy is just childish, reminds me of the way mac commercials make fun of pc’s. even though imo their are way more pc’s around than macs. and many of the people that own macs got started on a pc.

    they are all the same – different devices same function.

    some may be faster and better suited and ultimately you can’t sell what people won’t buy – so if they are both good products they will sell.

    i hate to see people fighting over resources and talking bad about the other guy. just bring your stuff and make goodhearted comparisons and let the people decide.

    i have all the major browsers installed on my pc for testing my web sites as do most developers, but i still have one or 2 favorites that i switch between when the need arises, and i reckon that many people will own both of apple and adobes products and use whatever is right for the job at the time, just as one uses php or asp or javascript when needed according to the job at hand.

    like evolution the best man will win, too bad evolution also resorts to a lot of dirty tricks to ensure survival

    we need more co-opetition, and less competition – just think of what could be churned out if apple and adobe were to eventually combine forces – they’ed be like walmart and suck up most of the business but put out higher quality stuff as a result of so much talent working together and would probably result in a quantum leap in technology instead of holding back progress wasting time bickering

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