Jobs says Flash drains battery life. When it comes to the iPhone battery, Apple should be concerned. After all, the iPhone battery has endured immense scrutiny. (Check out the CIO.com story, How to Know If Your iPhone Battery is on Death Row.)
"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," Jobs writes. "The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play less than five hours before the battery is fully? drained."
Narayen's response? Jobs's claims are "patently false," he says. "When you have hardware acceleration available for Flash, we have demonstrated that it takes less battery power than on the Mac."
Technically speaking, both CEOs are correct. Hardware-based IC video codecs require less power than software transcoding, says Borck, and a lot of videos were encoded prior to Adobe's adoption of H.264 MPEG video standard support in Adobe Media Encoder.
Mp>Borck is quick to point out that Adobe is making strides, albeit slowly, in adopting hardware acceleration into its products. It's only a matter of time for Web sites to catch up, too. Of course, Jobs would prefer Web sites "re-encode their videos using H.264 without using Flash at all."
Is Flash Untouchable?
Jobs says Flash is incompatible with touch technology, which the iPhone has brought to the smartphone universe with great success. Flash websites, Jobs says, rely on "rollovers," as in rolling a mouse arrow over a specific spot to generate a pop-up menu. But a touchscreen doesn't have a mouse.
It's true that Flash user-interface development is based on keyboard and mouse input, Borck says. But Adobe is adapting quickly to touch technology. "I've seen touch and gesture support available in the Flash 10.1 beta," he says. "I believe rollout for Flash 10.1 is slated for next month. So Adobe is closing the gap."
Why Can't Apple Wait?
It seems Adobe is in the process of fixing many of the technical hurdles, if it hasn't already. So why can't Apple wait for Adobe?
Jobs hints that he can't trust Adobe. "We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now," he writes. "We have never seen it ... We think it will eventually ship, but we're glad we didn't hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?"
While Adobe quickly fixes certain technology, the company hasn't always shown the same wherewithal when embracing platforms. "I do side with Jobs on the issue of delivery reliability," Borck says. "Adobe's roadmap is lined with rest stops that have delayed deployment to new platforms such as mobile, 64-bit, Linux."
On the other hand, maybe it was Jobs's rant that couldn't wait.
As Adobe closes in on the technical demands of the mobile Web, Apple faced a shrinking window of opportunity to show why Flash should be banned from the iPhone platform. Make no mistake: Flash doesn't play well in Apple's App Store business model. "Why would I buy an app when I could surf the Flash-based Web for free?" Borck asks.
Thus, Jobs's compelling technical complaints about Flash are underwritten with business goals.
"I'd say Jobs's altruistic concern for his customers' Web experience is tainted by Apple's core business model," Borck says. He adds, "I'm not suggesting that several of Jobs' [technical] criticisms for the Flash platform are not without merit. But ultimately, I side with a free market economy and find Jobs' arguments insufficient to justify walling off Apple customers from Adobe."