Adobe's Flash flap: Are concerns overblown?

Adobe's Flash flap: Are concerns overblown?

Summary: Adobe's well-publicized battle with Apple over Flash's future on the iPhone and iPad may have cast some doubt on the ubiquitous software, but the flap is way overblown, according to an analyst who is putting his money (or at least his buy rating) where his mouth is.


Adobe's well-publicized battle with Apple over Flash's future on the iPhone and iPad may have cast some doubt on the ubiquitous software, but the flap is way overblown, according to an analyst who is putting his money (or at least his buy rating) where his mouth is.

Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan upgraded Adobe to a "buy" because the flap over Flash has drawn attention away from a more critical component: The Creative Suite 5 (CS5) buying cycle.

In a research note, MacMillan writes:

We continue to believe that the CS5 product cycle will be decent, driven by attractive features, some new product additions, a healthier end-market, some pent-up demand and perhaps a little tailwind from Windows 7 upgrades. If total cycle revenues with CS5 resemble total cycle CS3 revenues, as we believe, there is money to be made here. If we are wrong, we like the fact that the company's late CY09 cost reduction provides EPS support. We also think concerns over the future of Flash are overblown. While we don't think Flash will be the only rich media container for the web, neither do we think it will disappear. More importantly, Flash has almost zero bearing on revenues for Adobe over the next 18 months.

Also: Adobe's creative legacy & the proprietary aspirations of Apple & Google

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It's hard to argue with MacMillan on the Flash point. The big argument is that HTML5 is going to make Flash irrelevant. And HTML5 just might---years from now. This HTML5 vs. Flash debate, which according to early adopters you'd think was already decided, played out on the Enterprise Irregular email list recently. Among the key points:

  • Flash is a runtime. HTML5 is a specification. Today, they aren't all that comparable.
  • Enterprises and most of the content companies that build around Flash aren't going to suddenly drop support.
  • Flash is more than videos---it's about rich clients on thin computing devices.
  • The Flash ecosystem is rich and that attracts developers.
  • It will take a decade for HTML5 to eradicate Flash if everything goes just perfectly (it won't). Keep in mind Web standards are messy and take time to develop.

Regarding that final point, MacMillan writes:

We believe the stock has come under additional pressure recently, due to concerns over the future of Flash. Apple's ongoing persistence to not include the Flash plug-in or run-time on the iPhone/ iPad coupled with Steve Job's comments regarding Flash is one thing. Google's YouTube Beta using HTML5 and the H.264 video codec (as opposed to Flash) is another. Adobe has retorted, with the CTO explaining Adobe's position and point of view on his blog. The bottom line for us is that we think it likely that Flash's share on the web will likely decline over time, but it is not going away. First, there is no agreed video tag for HTML5 today (with sparring tag technologies of H.264 and Theora supported by various camps). Second, HTML5 in its current specification does not support many of the features that Flash supports, such as audio streaming or games.

Strip away the concerns about Flash and you have a good old fashioned buying cycle to play, according to MacMillan. Instead of worrying about Flash fear, uncertainty and doubt it's more productive to follow the revenue of CS4 and the launch of Acrobat 10 in the second half.

Topics: Software Development, Banking, Enterprise Software

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  • Flash CS5, iPhone support

    Larry, if you see the games developed using Flash CS5, that are already available from Apple App Store, you will agree that the Apple should have welcomed Flash developers instead of putting up a fight against Flash player. It could have worked together with Adobe, but has chosen to instead ignore Flash. Also, new stats says that 7 million users tried to install Flash on their iPhones last December. I think Steve Jobs should at least try to understand what those users want. Steve Jobs and Apple in this case are trying to say that they know better than their customers. Thankfully, Adobe doesn't have such ego problems and is building iPhone native compiler into its Flash product for all developers and customers.
    • runtime

      i think apple doesn't have a problem that developers use flash tools (if it is
      correct that this will be possible in cs5) if they have to be exported into
      Objective-C to run on the iphone.

      the reason that flash is not on the iphone is that apple doesn't want to
      have any other runtime on its phone than it's own. thus controlling the
      whole user experience. after been burned over and over again by their
      "partners" apple will never again let it happen than anyone else can
      influence the pace of their development by controlling big parts of their

      the moment apple would allow flash apps in their store the moment the
      store would be flooded with flash apps and apple would lose control over
      their own os development. which company would let that happen?
  • The world doesn't take orders from Steve Jobs (grin)

    Steve Jobs can stomp his feet and pout, but the world isn't going to stop using Flash.
    • Amen Brother! - nt

  • RE: Adobe's Flash flap: Are concerns overblown?

    FALSE: It will take a decade for HTML5 to eradicate Flash if everything goes just perfectly (it won?t). This is BS. What do you base this premise on, as a developer I see otherwise.

    This article is Pro-Adobe agenda. Is there anything good you can say about HTML5 or would you rather us all rush over to stocktrade and buy some ADBE stock.
    • I totally agree!

      Also, any enterprise that decides to include Flash on internal applications deserves to be left in the lurch... I worked on an internal site that used Flash as its interface, which was quickly dropped as soon as it was implemented - it was slow to use, took ages to load up, often crashed the entire browser, CPUs ran hot and user accessibility went straight out the window - you couldn't use the scroll wheel or keyboard to navigate and you could use the zoom feature in the browser to enlarge the view...

      Apple are totally within their rights to lock Flash out of their platform and customers should be aware of this lockdown before they buy and not kick up a fuss when it's too late. The sheer number of applications and games on the Apple store prove that this can all be done WITHOUT Flash and only go to prove that Flash is not the answer! :P
    • Interesting

      So what makes you think HTML5 is going to obliterate Flash so quickly?
  • delete me.

    Posted in wrong place.
  • RE: Adobe's Flash flap: Are concerns overblown?

    Tell me when HTML 5 supports vector art, non-keyfrane animation
    and the level of interactivity in a development platform that Flash
    does and I'll believe it's going away anytime soon.

    Some people are so blindly led by "web standards" that they can't
    see there are things Flash does that makes it indispensable and
    that no mere programming language can replace.

    That said, the onus is on Adobe to rework Flash for the web of the
    future and not just ride the same codebase and resource-jogging
    plug-in they've had for 10+ years.
    • Flash isn't indespensible...

      ...because for the most part I have it disabled. Sure, I can't watch videos on youtube, but all in all, the stability of my computer has improved because I'm NOT using Flash. Most importantly, I no longer have hanging web browsers since disabling Flash.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not an Adobe hater, I use Photoshop and Lightroom religiously, but Flash is too unstable for my likes.

      If Adobe were to devote the time to making Flash more stable and more secure, then I would consider allowing it to just run, but regardless of how widely it's adopted, it's not good enough in my opinion.
      • Youtube

        " I can't watch videos on youtube"

        Sure you can ! Youtube sees the writing on the wall and
        has H.264 backup to Flash.

        On the Mac, Click To Flash both blocks Flash until you
        click on the frame, and also automatically loads the
        H.264 vids from Youtube.
      • How come you can watch YouTube videos with an iPhone

        It is always funny when people show how clue less they are.

        They always claim that Flash is needed to watch YouTube videos ... but Flash is no where near an iPhone, yet you can watch YouTube video anytime you want.
  • Windows 7 64-bit IE

    Since Windows 7 has been released, I've seen many OEM's install the 64-bit version of Windows 7 on their products. Additionally, many more people are upgrading their machines to the 64-bit version. YET, Flash is not available for the 64-bit version of IE...and their 32-bit version strobes the entire screen on the 32-bit IE browser. If they don't come out with a fix soon, people will be complaining and push more for sites to use alternatives.
    • RE: Windows 7 64-bit IE

      Yeah, I've been using 64-bit Vista for a few years now and I absolutely LOVE running the 64-bit version of IE. All of the web sites that have irritating, animated, Flash banner ads are serene and static so that I can actually read the content, unmolested by visual distractions.

      On the occasion that I actually do want to play a Flash applet, I'll simply copy the URL to the clipboard and paste it into the 32-bit version of IE, then I go back to the 64-bit browser for general use. It also keeps 99% of all existing ActiveX controls from installing or executing. It's beautiful!
    • Flash doesn't work

      At this point I'd just be happy to see flash work reliably on my systems. With the latest flash updates my browsers (IE mainly) have gone to the dogs. And yes, on the 64 bit systems I see strobes too.
      Keeping Current
  • Where have all the codecs gone?

    (When will they ever learn...) I've been compressing video since '95, and it really seems that serious codec improvement for video compression has basically died over the last 5 or 6 years, mainly due to the focus shifting from quality compression to ensuring that your codec does as much damage as possible to your competitor's OS or browser platform. H.264 is just silly and sad, as are the other players, when one thinks of where we should be as opposed to where we are. Quality video compression appears to be a casualty of the pissing war, which ironically opens the field, and begs for a new large player to fill the void, a new player focusing on the science & mathematics of good compression. Wouldn't that be refreshing?
  • Has Apple misread the need for flash?

    Apple, with its millions and millions of iPhones and iPod Touches WITHOUT Flash, seems to have come to the conclusion that they don't need it for the iPad.
    But here is the thing: in a device like the iPhone and iPod Touch, just HAVING the web is like a miracle, and maybe we can overlook some things here or there not working on the web - I still can hear music or place calls. But the iPad main function is SURFING the Web (not music listening - who will be carrying an iPad in his/her pocket?), so it is inexcusable that we cannot have the whole web experience. And regarding Adobe's instability and many people disabling it: let the people decide, not the manufacturer of the device. Do that: put a switch to disable these plug ins. But this is moot, as the reason for not supporting Adobe or Silverlight is not having other run-times so every application must pass through the iTunes store...
    Roque Mocan
    • iPad without Flash does not make sense

      I agree. This is one of the main reasons I am not considering the iPad.

      Just think of the myriad of facebook users who attempt to load the pages in the iPad. Nothing will work.

      What's next? Mafia Wars and Farmville for the iPhone? I doubt it.

      Yes. Facebook apps are hardly a deal breaker. However, consider that the iPad is sold as a web browsing device. Not having support for Flash (or Silverlight from Microsoft, for that matter) limits your experience.
  • There is so much great flash content

    iPad for education would miss out on so much... no educator
    should give school kids Apples version of the internet.
    • great content

      yes, we will all miss the amazing ads and fantastic site intros. resource
      hogging and browser crashing videos. excuse my sarcasm.

      do you really think these contents you mean are not available in the app
      store already? do you think these great contents will not be on the iPad
      because of no flash? reminder: these producers are not in the flash
      producing business, they are in the content producing business.