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I am sure that everyone has heard the buzz going on around the internet with Steve Jobs not supporting Flash on Apple devices. I have gotten dozens of emails asking my take on this issue, which I will address.

While I am not an avid animator, I certainly understand where Steve Jobs is coming from. I read his statement regard Flash, compatibility, and his reasons for not implementing Flash on mobile devices. They are all true and relevant. Jobs mentions the fact that Flash requires third party software just to run in your browser, when you can use more standards compliant  methods to display video with no extra programs needed.

Flash also does not work on touch-sensitive devices, which means that rollovers are not supported. This is huge, because no matter how beautiful your site is and how intricate your animation is, if your viewer can’t go anywhere within your site to see your work, contact you, etc., then what is the point?

Jobs also mentions the fact that with Flash being a proprietary software, meaning it is owned by one company or entity who makes all of the decisions, this greatly hinders development, because you have to wait on the developers to catch up to new technologies, or support new features. That would be a complete disaster. With everything being open, look how much development has happened since Apple has opened the App store. That would have not happened on the scale that it has if it was created on proprietary software.

Flash has its purposes, but they aren’t for mobile devices. most smart phones and mobile devices don’t support flash, but they support standards like H.264, CSS, Javascript, etc. I would much rather go with something that I am sure will run, sure it will look how it looks, and won’t cause crashes. Steve Jobs also confirms that the encoding of flash takes twice the amount of battery than standard video does. This is huge when you are on a trip and watching videos on your iphone of ipod Touch and every minute of battery counts.

On a personal note, I like Flash, and it is great for the right project, but even the program itself can be bugged. I can’t tell you how many times I have created projects in Flash, and all of a sudden, the next day, when I go to open the .fla file, it says that it is corrupted or can’t open the file. I only work on Apple machines, but even when I worked on a PC for a short time I had this happen to me. I don’t fully trust a .fla file. I always save multiple copies.

I love Adobe, and I love Apple. They are both great companies, with great products. With that being said, Flash has its problems, especially with crashes or not displaying for some unknown reason. Listening to Steve Jobs’s argument, I didn’t hear a single thing that I disagree with, or find to be an exaggeration. If anything, his comments are more of a call to action for the makers of Flash to create a product that is more stable and runs on more standards-based functionality.

What I would like to see from Adobe is not a sour look on their face or for them to lash back at Apple, but to (if this is possible) develop a way that when you create an animation in flash and export it, instead of a swf, it created some sort of CSS file or javascript that displayed the animation properly. This would be a step in the right direction, and solve some of the problems on mobile devices. It may be far fetched, but if Adobe doesn’t do something, then Flash may be left behind. Rethinking the way that they structure their .swf files, or how the script is exported could turn things around, and Flash would be more widely accepted and might actually function better.