Steve Jobs has been dissing Adobe’s Flash for the past 2-3 years for reasons public but still fundamentally unknown. Since the launch of the iPhone in 2008 Flash has been programma non grata on Apple iPods and iPhones. Various reasons have been supplied including not fast enough, buggy, and drains power. The legitimacy of these claims is under question.
With the launch of the iPad without Flash [which is used on 98% of all browser, and for 70% of all video browsing on the Web], Steve Jobs has seen fit to tell the Wall Street Journal that running Flash on the iPad sucks the battery life out of the iPad from 10hours to 1.5hours; hence the reason for his ban on Flash.
But our own tests on an old PowerPC powered Mac and a new MacBook tell a slightly different story. On the old PowerPC Mac there have been no bugs, no speed differential versus Apple’s Quicktime for video display and no “battery drain” problem. Admittedly this is an older version of the Flash Player so test were done on a new MacBook with the Leopard and then Snow Leopard OS. The results show Snow Leopard running slower[surprise!] but no bugs in either version of the OS. Unfortunately there was no battery life test[who could guess what complaint Steve would come up with next]. The same Flash files were then run on a Windows XP and the Windows 7 laptops. The Flash player version is 10.0 [because 10.1 was beta it was not used].
In the case of Windows XP Flash’s speed was faster than in Windows 7 but from time to time sprouted non-fatal error messages. Windows 7’s Flash Players results were no error messages but slower run times. As for battery drain, the tests showed no notable difference between Adobe Flash vs Apple Quicktime vs Windows Media Player for battery usage while playing full screen movies [not the same ones unfortunately].
Independent confirmation of the idea that Adobe Flash runs fast enough is provided by this report in Wired in which Google Android based mobile phone which is notably slower than iPhone CPU runs Flash with no problems. Now in the commentary below the Wired article all sorts of mis-information flourishes- Google can now search Flash files, Flash does indeed run slower on Snow Leopard and especially in Safari but seems fine in Firefox using Flash Player 9.
Steve Jobs is having another hissy fit with Adobe. This has happened before with the intro of Aperture and Final Cut Pro – competitors to Adobe Lightroom/Photoshp and Premiere respectively. Its one of those masculine, zerosum conflicts where both sides get scarred and then who cares? Google. Because their Android OS runs Flash just fine in Android for smartphones and Netbooks. And both of those will be competing with iPhone and iPad come this Spring and Google will be armed with Flash while Apple will be sporting HTML5???. Google supports HTML5 too. And everybody knows HTML5 is just emerging and subject to the proprietize and delay tactics of Microsoft [which still retains the Web browser lead despite having the worst browser for the past 3 to 5 years – so much for the touted “efficiency of markets”]. Meanwhile, Flash remains the current best multimedia container in the world for numbers of users, features, and efficiency of storage. Hmm sound like a big giveaway by Apple.