Google’s Position on Flash is as Bad as Apple’s

Steve Jobs has been remarkably talkative of late. Most recently, he posted Thoughts on Flash and before that has randomly (yet tersely) replied to seemingly random emails.

Jobs actually makes some interesting points in this post but there is something hysterically funny about Apple criticizing Flash for not being “open” (as Bart would say, the ironing is delicious) but once you get past that, comments about video decoding in software, battery life, etc all fit in Jobs’ famous unwavering commitment to his product vision. The battery performance of the iPad and Macbooks are almost legendary.

Lack of Flash has become a rallying cry for iphone malcontents and Android proponents of late. Barely a day goes by that Buzz Out Loud, particularly for Molly Wood and Jason Howell. Such people typically praise Google’s openness with its adoption of Flash.

Last month, Google announced a partnership with Adobe, one effect of which is that Flash will be bundled with Chrome (and later Chrome OS).

This got me thinking. I don’t like Flash. I don’t want it in my browser. Flash tends to be abused (by advertisers). Some have used Flash to restore deleted tracking cookies, which is a huge privacy (even security) concern.

I have previously tried to remove Flash from Chrome (my preferred browser). You can remove it but then every page you go to tells you you’re missing necessary plug-ins and asks if you want to install them. Is there an option to disable this message/request? No.

As of Chrome 3 extensions have come to the rescue and Flashblock is a must-have. Still, this solution is not completely satisfactory. Some Web sites will put extra Flash widgets (sometimes as small as a pixel) to defeat Flash blockers. Click on one of these regions/pixels and you’ve just run some Flash you probably didn’t mean to run.

I can understand the criticisms of Apple’s position even though I personally want to see Flash die a horribly fiery death. But Google isn’t giving me a choice either. Instead of allowing me to have Flash if I wish, it’s forcing me to have Flash whether I like it or not (and, trust me, I don’t).

Now that Youtube has HTML5 video, I don’t need Flash for anything. Why won’t Google give me that choice?


Anonymous said...

Very well said!

Mark Ellul said...

Yes, I agree, Flash should be configurable... like switching off javascript.

Anonymous said...

I can understand the criticisms of your position even though I personally want to see software developed by you die a horribly fiery death.

Anonymous said...

Steve wasn't saying how Apple is open and Flash is closed. He was replying to the statements made by Adobe and saying that Flash is not open and these are the issues we have with it. He went on to say that Apple supports open web development and that they tried to make iPhone's Safari support the latest open web technologies.

m3mnoch said...

i'm pretty sure the difference is that you represent <1% of the internet population. zynga's flash games, for example, have something ridiculous like 250 million monthly users. or, to put it another way, about 5x what apple's total customer base is.

... just sayin'.


Anonymous said...

it's the web devs that aren't giving you a choice.

for every person like you who want's a 'choice' to disable that message there are easily 10 for whom that would cause no end of problems for.

Unknown said...

You can disable plugins (and js separately) per site in chrome 5 with content settings. I've got js and plugins disabled by default (though that's not chromes default). I then allow them on pages if I need to. Like I had to enable js to comment here. It's not as good as noscript but it's something.

Lee said...

I'm with you on the complete lack of love for Flash, it find that it performs poorly fairly often and not just with games but other types of Flash apps will cause Firefox to totally lock the thread waiting for Flash to do anything. This might be a Flash developer issue but, it's common enough to be fixed by Adobe in my opinion.

Have you followed the Google IO announcements this week? While Google is being all chummy with Adobe, a lot of the big announcements made including the HTML5 related ones seem to sound very bad from the Flash point of view. Google is pushing many things that make Flash obsolete. It almost has this horror film feeling of Google hugging Flash nice and close then hugging the life right out of it.

William Shields said...

@Lee I have followed Google I/O. More the Android stuff. Google TV doesn't really interest me at all.

The whole thing with bundling Flash, etc just annoys me. I want the option of not having Flash entirely and I certainly don't want it on my Android phone.

Interestingly, there are a lot of Apple-haters who complain about Android's lack of Flash and they're not even aware if their Android phone has it installed or not, ergo if you don't know if it's installed you're not using it for anything you actually care about. So why is the lack of it a problem?

Mauro said...

I don't like Flash (expecially for the "abused by ads maker" part), and similar techonologies (In my experience as user, I've not found a single useful usage of flash, except for youtube or similar sites, while sites done entirely in Flash, I consider them as shop-window for products, so rarely I am interested in them)...

I hope HTML5 will kill them all, but if people like Flash, they can keep it; only, I want to be able to avoid it as much as possible ---Opera allows to disable plugins as whole, it's a way to disable flash too...; before, I used privoxy, but it failed quite often to prevent annoying flash.

Post a Comment