Why the Open Screen Project is so important

There has been a lot of talk about openness lately as well as our mobile strategy so I want to explain some things that I think are being misrepresented. As many of you know, we established the Open Screen Project as way for us to work together with the leaders in the mobile, desktop, and device industries in part, so we can deliver the highest quality Flash runtime across all these devices. As you can see by looking at the partners we are working with, they represent essentially every mobile company on the planet besides Apple.

In an earlier post I talked about Apple’s arrogance as being both a strength and a liability. This led some to cleverly quip that it was Adobe who was the real source of arrogance. But that is simply not the case if you look at the facts. It would be arrogant for us to say something like “our player is the shit so if it doesn’t run well on your device, that is your problem.” The truth is that we are doing just the opposite with the OSP. We realize that we have to work closely with companies that use our runtime so that it performs as fast as possible. We are essentially saying that we need help to make our runtime all that it can be. Hardly an arrogant attitude.

Many people bring up the fact the Flash Player runs poorly on Macs and that is why it will never be on the iPhone. While I will admit that the player is not 100% on par with Windows, it is definitely getting close. One commenter mentioned, and I am quoting here, “CPU usage goes up and over 100%, fans kick in and the whole machine still gets too hot, all for the most trivial of websites. This is why it’s not welcome on Mac, and just imagine how badly it would run on the iPhone.” This kind of misinformation is unfortunately very common. Either this person is using a very old Mac or hasn’t upgraded their Flash Player in a long time. Create a simple Flash file, update your Flash Player, and run it in Safari and you will quickly realize that this is not the case.

But let’s talk more about the Flash Player on the Mac. If it is not 100% on par with the Windows player people assume that it is all our fault. The facts show that this is simply not the case. Let’s take for example the question of hardware acceleration for H.264 video that we released with Flash Player 10.1. Here you can see some published results for how much the situation has improved on Windows. Unfortunately we could not add this acceleration to the Mac player because Apple does not provide a public API to make this happen. You can easily verify that by asking Apple. I’m happy to say that we still made some improvements for the Mac player when it comes to video playback, but we simply could not implement the hardware acceleration. This is but one example of stumbling blocks we face when it comes to Apple.

Let me also reiterate that Adobe is a company of Mac users. You are hard-pressed to find someone at Adobe who doesn’t use a Mac or that is without an iPhone. We love Apple products so obviously we want our player to be top notch on that platform. But anyone will freely admit that openness is something that Apple just isn’t known for. Sure Adobe makes plenty of closed-source products, including the Flash Player. The key difference is that we are willing to be open and transparent with industry partners through initiatives like the OSP. Even Microsoft, who actually has a competing runtime, realizes that it is in their best interest to help us get the Flash Player running as fast as possible on their operating system and devices. So to sum up my point, it is easy to point the finger at Adobe when it comes to performance on the Mac, but there is only so much we can do if we don’t get the help we need.

I also wanted to mention something else about the iPhone. If we simply slapped Flash Player 10.1 into the iPhone browser today it might not perform very well. That is why the Open Screen Project is so important. Take Palm for example. We now have the Flash Player running very well on the Palm Pre because, as part of the OSP, they worked with us closely to make sure that it did. The same will be true for Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and every other partner that is willing to work with us. I fail to see the arrogance in this open approach.


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