iPad – full Internet my ASS

Disclaimer: I am an Adobe employee and these views are my own.

Yesterday we saw the launch of the iPad from Apple, and we were taken on the whirlwind of marketing showmanship.  The iPad is undoubtedly a revolutionary product, and just like the iPhone OS, Apple are clearly set on a path to close down the web and ultimately markets for books and magazines, just as they did with music.  Well maybe this is a good thing for sales and the Apple stock price, but the Internet is meant to be more for those who use it.  Fundamentally it’s an information, education and entertainment tool founded on open innovation.  How can a liberal company try and lock it down??

Why would a student seriously want to go to the library?  That’s so 1980!

The keynote by Steve Jobs yesterday was, as always, a masterpiece of marketing and you will have undoubtedly seen the “plug-in missing” boxes throughout the browsing demo.  Apple told us that “a new device must be better at some things”, defining the iPad as “the best browsing experience of any device”; he even included laptops in that definition.

Is that an ignorant statement?  Obviously not, Steve is a very smart guy so I think he’s in the business of redefining what the web is.  Maybe he’ll brand it the iNet.

The interesting part of this keynote was in their pitch, you see Apple is staffed with smart people, so everything about the pitch was deliberate.  When browsing the web at the New York Times, Time and National Geographic websites Steve paused momentarily to show that Flash was missing.  He’s a perfectionist, so why do you think he would do that?

Well I believe that Apple were declaring that the web does not need or want Flash, that includes me with my Macbook Pro, 2 iPhones and an iPod Touch.  For consumers it is extremely misleading to talk about a web without Flash, in fact any plugin or common technology.  How do I know that? Well millions of iPhone users are visiting our Flash Player download page in the vein hope that they’ll be able to watch Hulu, iPlayer, 4OD and any number of sites.  They don’t necessarily know what Flash is, but ~700million of them know that they could visit these pages and engage with the content on their desktop computer.

Is it fundamentally wrong to describe the modern web as “complete”, without the plugins that have existed for almost as long as it has?  Plugins that many see as the leaders of, and a required element of, web innovation?

At Adobe we believe in an open web, one where plugins like Flash and PDF Reader, Unity3D, Gears and even Silverlight can all co-exist and compete on fair terms.  We work extremely hard to bring Flash to all devices, and lately of course we have invested a huge effort in bringing the Flash Platform to mobile devices too.  Today we’re working with 19 of the top 20 manufacturers of mobile phones within the Open Screen Project; but not Apple, and certainly not for the want of trying.

To make matters worse, the problems didn’t end with Flash being absent on the iPad.  Apple also launched the iBookStore, a separate and new store for Books and I presume magazines or articles in time.  In essence this is a great step forward for many, and Apple has elected to the use the EPub format which is fully supported in InDesign CS4.

So what gives?  It’s all in the detail, the DRM, user locked, device locked detail.  Forget sharing your books and movies, forget reading your books on your laptop sometimes or transferring them onto any other device.

In sum, I am hugely disappointed in Apple’s iPad and I feel that the vast majority of consumers will reject it; as long as Apple come clean about its shortcomings first.

Some personal thoughts on Apple and the trend towards closed platforms

Yesterday, Apple announced their new tablet device, the iPad. Even if you are able to step back from all of the hype and reality distortion field surrounding the announcement, it is still an impressive device, once which I would love to get my hands on.
However, as a developer and Mac user, I am increasingly concerned […]

Open letter from a Mac-head

DISCLAIMER: I work for Adobe on the platform evangelism team. I’ve been a Flash designer/developer for the last 12 years. The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Dear Steve,
After working on Windows PCs for over 15 years, I switched to Mac about 6 years ago. […]

Flex: The Ecosystem

The Flex family extends far beyond the Flex Framework and the Flash Builder IDE. A lot of third party vendors have created applications, frameworks, components and tools to help you be successful in your application development. There are tools for functional, performance and security testing, third party components, AMF products, licensing and encryption tools and […]

Netflix API samples added to Tour de Flex

Jonathan Campos wrote two samples that demonstrate the netflex-as3-api project, an Actionscript 3 utility library to simplify the Netflix API for Actionscript 3 based applications.

You’ll find two samples under “Cloud APIs” in Tour de Flex.
Posted in Adobe Flex, Tour de Flex Tagged: Adobe Flex, netflex, netflix, netflix actionscript api, netflix as3, Tour de Flex […]

Apple's iPad — a broken link?

As I drove by Yerba Buena Theater in San Francisco this morning, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Apple certainly has the ability to excite people with great products, and with the iPhone they even managed to generate momentum for an entire product category. So it’s no surprise that the iPad looks like it’s a pretty good new device.

It was really exciting to see some of the technologies that Adobe has contributed to, like PDF and ePub support, taking center stage in the launch. Adobe technology is at the center of virtually every print and digital workflow, so undoubtedly a lot of what you¹ll see getting delivered to the iPad will have originated in Adobe creative software.

But, as a picture posted on Engadget shows (below), and many others have reported, there’s something important missing from Apple’s approach to connecting consumers to content.

iPad Flash Plugin Error

It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers. Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers.  And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web.

If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab — not to mention the millions of other sites on the web — I’ll be out of luck.

Adobe and more than 50 of our partners in the Open Screen Project are working to enable developers and content publishers to deliver to any device, so that consumers have open access to their favorite interactive media, content, and applications across platform, regardless of the device that people choose to use.

To follow more from the Flash Platform Team about developments on all mobile devices, follow us at @Flash_Platform

HTML 5 and Flash video

There seems to be a lot of talk going on lately about this so I wanted to give my thoughts. This topic is actually quite a confusing one to think about. Let me first address the iPhone side of this so we can get to the real meat of the issue.

The iPhone does not support Flash video, or any other type of Flash for that matter, so you obviously need an alternative. In my last post I showed one approach for providing alternative videos for iPhone users. But this really doesn’t relate to HTML 5 at all. The iPhone plays video in its standalone player so you will not be able to view video embedded in the page. So for the iPhone, unless something changes, you need to provide an iPhone-compatible video file for your users to watch.

Now with the iPhone out of the way, we can now look at the real issue. YouTube released an HTML 5 demo of its player quite a while ago and are now testing this on their site. Vimeo, which is a lesser known video site, also launched a beta HTML 5 player as well. This should not come as a surprise to anyone as it is in their best interest to get ahead of the curve with HTML 5. If you are in a supported browser, HTML 5 video playback can be very smooth and less CPU-intensive than Flash. For basic video playback, I see HTML 5 as a great option down the road. Of course, the issue for me always comes down to browser compatibility.

The video tag works in Safari and Google Chrome. You can get it to work in IE if users install Chrome Frame. This is fine for developers, but the masses more than likely won’t be willing to do that just yet. So in reality, Firefox and IE both do not support HTML 5 video. Firefox seems to be doing its own thing, requiring you to use the Ogg video format, while Safari and Chrome support H.264. Go over an read this great write-up on HTML 5 video to see the splintering of the various video formats and browser support. If you want to deliver video to every browser without having to encode multiple video formats and creating alternative markup, then Flash is the way to go.

Now this is not to say that in the future, maybe they will all agree on an implementation. If that happens and it performs better than Flash, then that is how I will be delivering my videos as well. But another thing to point out is that Flash video is used for a lot of things beyond basic playback. Flash supports embedded cue points and alpha channels and is often used in ways beyond the traditional YouTube playback scenario. So while HTML 5 video looks promising, it is clearly way too early for people to be writing an eulogy for Flash video. Remember also that while the browsers get their acts together, Flash video will continue to evolve as well.

Lastly, I would like to dispel the notion that Adobe is somehow against HTML 5. On the contrary, we see it as an exciting development for the web and have our own plans for tooling surrounding it as well. I have always preached to people that they should only use Flash for things that are appropriate. Sites that overuse Flash and provide poor experiences are worse for us than sites that don’t use it at all. Of course there are plenty of JavaScript nightmare sites out there as well.