Flash is Not a Right

I just finished reading this post on Slashdot as well as the linked blog post.  I’ve been hesitant to weigh in publicly on what I think about the whole Adobe/Apple war that’s going on right now since I’m not really a iPhone OS developer and and I don’t pretend to be a technology maven (or pundit).  However, I do have some opinions on the matter and Bogost has presented a more articulate explanation of some of my thoughts than I ever could.

I’m not overly keen on the idea that Apple chose to close their platform to Flash developers (or even to Adobe and other third party tools providers) but at the same time Steve Jobs’ public argument isn’t entirely without merit.  Adobe’s response has been pretty flaccid, in my view premised more or less on the idea that because lots of people use Flash, Apple should therefore support it.

Flash, in my experience, is actually not that well optimized for any platform and Adobe gives the impression that non-Windows platforms second class citizens.  Being a MacOS X/Linux user I probably see the whole argument through a slightly more jaded lens than your average Internet/iPhone user but I have experienced Flash crashing web browsers and my netbook (running Windows 7) only heats up and burns its battery off at a rapid rate when I hit heavy flash sites.

It’s too bad that Adobe hasn’t done a better job of integrating Flash, when the first apps and media players first hit the web I was pretty impressed.  But times have changed and the world of proprietary (and in particular) Windows/PC/x86 based tools on the web seems to finally be behind us thanks to mobile devices and Apple (as well as RIM) have been key players in this space.  The whole debate appears to me to boil down to a major clash in philosophies and interpretations of what the concept of “open platform” means.

I don’t know if there’s a “right” answer to this, but I’m sort of hoping that both sides stick to their guns and we get to see where the rest of the industry/public do.  My impression is that neither side will come out unscathed and I hope that this isn’t a massive miscalculation on Apple’s part because I’m quite concerned that this may be an ideological or profit driven move rather than a genuine effort to move mobile computing and HTML5 forward.  It’s hard to tell the difference when Apple is no flock of angels and could very plausibly be basing their moves on either motive (or both).