Adobe: Flash in the tablet disproves Steve Jobs

A top exec has hit back at the Apple CEO's criticism of Adobe as 'lazy', saying Flash Player 10.1 shows a keenness to work across devices and platforms
Written by Simon Bisson, Contributor

Adobe has come out in defence of Flash on Macs and mobile Flash, after Steve Jobs reportedly called the company "lazy" in its development of its flagship product.

Far from moving slowly, Adobe is pushing the Flash media player onto a wide range of devices, Anup Murarka, Adobe's director of technology strategy and partner development, told ZDNet UK. He pointed to the company's move to put Flash Player 10.1 on Linux, Android and Windows tablets, announced at Mobile World Congress on Monday.

"We believe this is going to be the only consistent browser-based runtime across phones, smartbooks, PCs and netbooks," Murarka said.

After Apple came under fire for the absence of Flash on the iPad, Jobs hit back with criticisms of Adobe in an internal company meeting, according to a report on Wired.com. The Apple chief executive said Adobe was failing to innovate in ways that take advantage of Apple's technology. He described Flash as buggy, and said Adobe was about to be left behind as the online world moves to HTML 5.

Murarka countered the argument that Flash will be replaced by HTML 5 by noting that Flash has a head start, as it is in widespread use today on websites.

"HTML 5 standardisation will take years to complete and implementations will differ. Flash will continue to lead in innovation, much faster than HTML and browsers," he said.

Critics of Flash have also said that it is prone to problems on the Mac OS, and that this is because the runtime is optimised for Windows. Murarka said the Mac OS crash reports were "incomplete and anecdotal". As far as he is concerned, the Apple operating system is part of the problem, and he added that Adobe wants "more access to [the] APIs needed to support hardware decoding of video and multitouch".

Murarka also said that any performance issues on the Mac are not caused by Flash, and he suggested that software products from other vendors also suffer when run on Macs.

"Mac OS libraries come with more overhead than their Windows equivalents," he said. "Apps run faster on Windows than Mac OS — [they're] generally about 20 percent slower using the GCC compiler."

Rocky relationship
Adobe and Apple's relationship has been rocky since Apple's decision to ship the iPhone's Safari browser without the Flash plug-in. Adobe tried to counter Apple's initial objections to a mobile version of Flash, using its Open Screen Project to change the way Flash was licensed and developed.

Murarka said that, like other third-party software makers, Adobe does not know exactly what hardware the iPad uses. Despite this, it is already optimising the performance of Flash for the PowerVR chip used in the iPhone, rumoured to be providing graphics for the iPad.

Adobe is working with Imagination Technologies on Flash and Flash Lite optimisations for OpenVG 1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 using Imagination's PowerVR SGX and VGX graphics cores, according to Tony King-Smith, vice president of marketing for Imagination. The companies are also collaborating on Flash 10.1 optimisations for Android, Windows CE and embedded Linux using OpenGL ES 2.0 for rendering Flash content, King-Smith added.

Despite the lack of Flash on iPhone and iPad, Murarka said he remains optimistic about the prospects for Flash's mobile rollout, as 19 of the top 20 mobile device manufacturers are now part of the Open Screen Project — leaving Apple as the only major mobile provider absent.

Adobe's Open Screen Project partnership is behind a lot of Adobe's Flash development, with hardware partners announcing chipset support for the Flash runtime. These include the chipsets used by many high-end smartphones and smartbooks, among them Nvidia's Tegra 2, Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Freescale's i.MX515. Nvidia has also announced that it is working to deliver Flash Player 10.1 support on tablets from 50 different OEMs.

However, a study by Strategy Analytics suggests it is going to take some time for Flash to have an impact on mobile devices. Its figures predict that only nine percent of smartphones will have the full Flash runtime by the end of 2010, although 50 percent of devices will have Flash support in 2012.

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