Apple and Adobe’s clash in 2010 was (and still is) one of the biggest and most well-known tech battles in modern history. And it continues until today: even the latest Apple gadgets don’t support Adobe Flash Player, making life less enjoyable but ultimately more secure for the millions of iPad and iPhone users around the world.
Blast from the Past
But what exactly caused this controversy? Well, it basically stemmed from Steve Jobs’s decision not to provide support for Adobe Flash Player in Apple’s line of mobile devices. Jobs, who co-founded the company and was then the CEO, wrote an open letter titled “Thoughts on Flash” in which he outlined the reasons why Flash Player was not allowed on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Some of the reasons included computer crashes, high energy consumption, and poor mobile device performance. Jobs also highlighted the fact that Flash Player had poor security and pointed out that the web client was a “closed system” that was “no longer necessary to watch a video or consume any kind of web content”. He likewise revealed that he wanted to minimize the presence of a third-party software provider between Apple and its customers.
Jobs’ open letter gained a lot of criticism from tech experts back then. Some accused that Jobs rejected Flash Player not because of technical reasons but because of business reasons, while others pointed out Adobe’s proprietary approach was similar to Apple’s own approach, making Jobs’s comment hypocritical. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen also fired back at Apple, stating that Jobs’s claim about battery drain was false and that computer crashes occurred because of Apple’s own software, not because of Flash Player.
What We Know Today
Seven years on, we now know that Steve Jobs made the right decision not to make Adobe Flash Player a part of iOS devices. With Android users complaining at Flash’s performance, iOS users are left with nothing to complain about since they’re not dependent on it. They also don’t have to be worried about having their online security compromised by the numerous vulnerabilities found in Adobe Flash Player.
This isn’t the case with Mac computers, which support Flash Player. However, Apple has taken steps to minimize the security risks to their users by automatically disabling Flash Player in MacOS Sierra and enabling HTML5 technology. Users who turn on Flash Player in their Mac computers will do so at their own risk.
We also now know that Jobs’s decision to partner with Adobe didn’t just rely on the web client’s technical issues — it also hinged on the fact that Adobe as a company didn’t seem to be willing to address these issues. On December 2016, former Apple software development manager Bob Burrough revealed on Twitter that Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen didn’t return Steve Jobs’s phone calls. This caused the latter to lose faith in Adobe as a partner.