free html hit counter The Friday Signal: Will Apple Flash Us, or Not? - John Battelle's Search Blog

The Friday Signal: Will Apple Flash Us, or Not?

By - January 29, 2010

The news today was still iPad driven, for the most part, with the question of whether Flash will be supported at its core. So far, the answer is no, and Adobe semi-officially chastised Apple in this post: Apple’s iPad — a broken link?. However, a site called 9to5Mac studied the iPad introduction video, and found that Flash must be working on the device, because it’s used on the, which was featured in the demo: The iPad has Adobe’s Flash on Apple’s video. This of course is important to marketers, as Flash is pretty much an industry standard for rich advertising. Is Apple really planning a total end around, as IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg warns in this post?

I’m not so sure. I’d wager Apple and Adobe are deep in negotiations right now, and I’d also wager part of it has to do with Flash’s execution in the Mac and associated operating systems. Why? Well, it’s not a secret that Flash is resource intensive and reportedly buggy on the Mac (at least, that’s what developers are saying). Perhaps Jobs is using the iPad as leverage to get Adobe to focus on his platform. Or, perhaps he really is spurning the company’s technology. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, a Google exec (Hal Varian) damns the iPad with faint praise, reminding us all that Google and Apple are circling each other in the mobile device market like boxers calculating their first flurry of punches. And O’Reilly Radar has what I think is the best take on the iPad I’ve read so far: The iPad is the iPrius: Your Computer Consumerized.

Other interesting links today:

“Mommy, Where Does Content Come From?” 11 Easy Ways to Create Great Stuff (Open Forum) Content is critical to marketing in social media, without a doubt.

Social Media Marketing: How Pepsi Got It Right (Mashable) I love case studies. You’ll be seeing a lot more of them at the CM Summit in NY this June.

U.S. Advertising to Rise 3.5% in 2010, Barclays Says (Bloomberg) After a year like 2009, who doesn’t like a headline like that? Online, of course, will grow far faster.

Facebook Develops Conversion Tracking Tool: What’s A Fan Worth? (MediaPost)

Consumers Demand Engagement (eMarketer)

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9 thoughts on “The Friday Signal: Will Apple Flash Us, or Not?

  1. Andy says:

    I’m wondering if it was purposely kept out so video has to be done through apps? (read: more money for Apple.) Still, I’m hoping they get it in there before shipping.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. John says:


    The ‘signal’ posts are terrific. This is a valuable service you are providing.

  3. John says:

    Glad you guys are enjoying it. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do and it helps motivate me to hear you are finding value in it.

  4. Ryan says:


    With H.264 video natively supported in the browser (with good performance) the need for Flash to view video is greatly reduced if not eliminated.

    Check out this article by John Gruber for an excellent assessment on why Flash is not likely to appear on the iPad:

    Personally I’d love to see it kept off of the device. The better the iPad sells without having support for Flash, the more open standards (canvas, SVG, HTML5) will be embraced.

  5. John Dowdell says:

    “Well, it’s not a secret that Flash is resource intensive and reportedly buggy on the Mac (at least, that’s what developers are saying)”

    I think it depends on the venue, and on identity… last week I checked through the past year’s worth of, and the only hits on “crash” were incidental ones. These folks use Flash all day, under stress, and are perhaps 50% Mac. Not an issue for them. I’d agree with you, though, that pseudonymous comments at Apple fansites have a startling frequency rate.

    I’m planning a blogpost reprising simple diagnostic steps for browser instability, at, but it looks like it won’t be until next week until I get some writing time. Should be easily tractable though.


  6. Ed says:

    To those who keep talking about H.264, video is only a small part of why Flash is necessary.

  7. @jd: Support for JB’s assertion can be found in John Gruber’s article here:

    I can only offer two datapoints personally, but the only hard reset my 2 month old Macbook has needed so far was triggered by a Flash game (vvvvvv) running in Firefox 3.5. On my previous Macbook (c.2007) I regularly disabled Flash to silence the laptop’s fan, which came on whenever there was a Flash object on the page.

  8. Jim says:

    John – it’s not that flash is buggy, resource intensive, etc. etc.

    All of those reasons are more of a euphemism for the conflict of interest. Apple is meticulous about user experience. They build their own hardware and software. They even control the details of their developer eco-system. If you’re iPhone app doesn’t adhere to their HIG (human interface guidelines) it’s going to get rejected. In one way or another apple controls and manages every single possible aspect of the platform very meticulously.

    So.. if flash were to work on the web browser.. well now you see the control is lost. You could make flash applications or games that run in the web browser. Apple doesn’t want that and Adobe knows this.

    So for better or for worse I can say you could be pretty darn certain iPad like iPhone will not use flash. Which is why I think YouTube and Vimeo’s recent update to serving html5 video via h.264 is no coincidence!

    The only people who are complaining or up in air about lack of flash are the folks who develop or design on that platform. NOT the iPhone’s customer base. Its unlikely these mechanics will change.

    This is why you see Adobe going out of their way in an attempt to convert Flash into a development IDE for the iPhone. So instead of exporting flash movies Flash CS5 is expected to actually compile flash projects into iPhone apps that could be sold on the store for the iPhone or iPod. We’ll have to see they go with that!

    As for advertisers.. until they wake up and smell the coffee a lot of folks using iPhones or in the future iPads are getting a ‘free ride’ on a lot of these web sites. It’s nice not to have the annoying rich media ads loading let alone fly out, expand, or some other obnoxious novelty effect.

  9. Andy says:

    Wow, some good insight in the comments here. Ryan, thanks for the info on H.264. I’ll confess that I’m a novice when it comes to things like this; I didn’t even know about H.264.

    Thanks guys!