Steve Jobs finally decided to explain why you don’t want Flash on your iPhone. Interesting timing, just after Andy Rubin (co-founder and former CEO of Danger, Inc. and Android, currently VP of Engineering at Google overseeing development of Android) sat down with the New York Times and said Flash is coming to Android in 2.2 (Froyo). Jobs’ six reasons made me wish George Carlin was still around to give this list the Ten Commandments treatment.

There aren’t six reasons on that list, there’s one: Steve doesn’t want people using their proprietary solution, he wants them to use his proprietary solution. This is a pissing contest, and iPhone users are getting pissed on.

Jobs says Adobe Flash is proprietary and Apple is “open” because they’re using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. This is funny coming from one of the reigning kings of both closed source hardware and software. Somehow, faced with the exact same problem Google has worked out a solution. It turns out supporting HTML5 AND Flash are not mutually exclusive! Google loves “open,” but something had to give for the sake of user experience.

This is a power-play for the Apps market. Unbridled Flash support threatens to redirect money from Steve’s pocket. I don’t necessarily agree with Andy Rubin’s idea that people care about this whole “open” thing. I think it’s just the geek-set that cares, and in fact even just a subset of the geek-set. I tend to count myself among that group – until I really need to get something done with the tools I have right now. That’s why my Ubuntu laptop dual boots Windows XP, and why I keep a copy of Office 2003 installed, even though I mostly work in Open Office.

If the reliability, security, performance, and battery life problems Jobs points out are true, Flash is garbage. And I think they are true, and Flash is garbage. Either Adobe will fix them (they won’t) or Flash will die a natural death. But as he popints out, “75% of video on the web is in Flash.” What good is the 1 GHz Snapdragon in my Nexus One if I can’t use it to surf the web as it exists today? Are people buying iPhones to use them today, or to surf the web in some mystical, open web of the future?

Published by Brian

Grappling sometimes, but mostly just trying to get others to grapple.

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