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Apple CEO Explains Flash Ban

Steve Jobs cites security, poor performance and no support for touch-based interfaces as problems with Adobe's cross-platform browser plug-in.



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Besides security and reliability, there's the issue of battery life, according to Jobs. Apple prefers to use a video decoder called H.264, which is in the chips of the company's mobile devices. Besides offering better performance, this can almost double the device's battery life, when compared to using software, such as Flash, to decode video.

In addition, Flash doesn't support touch-based interfaces, which are key to interacting with the iPhone and the iPad. "Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers," Jobs said.

Rather than Flash, Apple is requiring developers for its platform to use Web technologies, such as HTML5, cascading style sheets (CSS) and JavaScript, as an alternative. The use of these open standards addresses a key objection Jobs has with Flash, beyond the technological issues: Placing a third-party software maker between developers and Apple's platform.

"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," Jobs said.

The CEO argued that such a scenario means new features added to a platform can't be accessed until the third-party software maker gets around to supporting them. This could take far too long when the software maker, such as Adobe, is supporting several platforms at once.

"We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers," Jobs said.

While Jobs may not have the last word on the controversy, his position indicates its unlikely Flash will be added anytime soon, if ever, to Apple's mobile devices. Therefore, it appears Adobe made the right decision this month when it stopped development of its Flash-to-iPhone technology, and would focus on smartphones based on Google's Android operating system.