Adobe CTO Admits Flash Needs Work
The ruckus began long before Steve Job’s alleged “lazy” comment about Adobe Flash, but the issue certainly gained some more attention after the fact. Now, in an interview with All Things Digital, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch has conceded a few criticisms about Flash’s overall optimization and shed some light on the future for the ubiquitous plug-in.
For those who don’t know, during Steve Job’s town hall meeting post-iPad announcement, he had a few harsh things to say while simultaneously rallying Apple troops. The focus was on Google, but there was also the question of Flash on the iPhone. Job’s had said they’d be pushing forward with HTML5 spec and that Adobe had been “lazy” developing flash, which was why it was such a resource hog on the Mac and why it’d never see the light of day on the iPhone
Well, over at AllThingsDigital.com, Kara Swisher actually interviewed the CTO at Adobe and spoke to him personally about Flash and the future. Swisher paints Kevin Lynch in a sympathetic light, as a man whose technology is under attack from not just Apple, but Google. But I feel no sympathy. Flash continually spins up my fans on my otherwise silent MacBook and sucks battery life like a lithium-ion fueled vampire. Fortunately, I was able to watch her video interview with him and draw my own conclusions.
On Steve Job’s “lazy” comment, Lynch had this to say: “It’s pretty busy around here so I’m not sure what that’s about…” which seemed like a tactful way of diffusing and moving on to the next question. Especially since the comment is only alleged. But he didn’t say complaints about Flash weren’t heard.
“We’re focused on making sure we’re doing a great job, and we’re open to hearing feedback [about Flash’s performance]…when people are complaining — we listen to what people are saying.”
“Performance on the Macintosh is an area that we’re working on [and] we’ve been working on for a while now….we’re working really hard at making sure that video renders are using similar CPU usages across Mac and Windows — right now Mac uses more CPU than Windows. There’s a lot of buzz around that. [And we want people to know] if there are issues we will fix them.”
On The Web
But then Lynch said something that I’m not sure I believe.
“85% of the top websites have Flash on their website, so if you want to view the whole web, not having the ability to view Flash it really limiting on the devices.”
Now, it’s not that I don’t believe Flash is on 85% of top sites out there, but whether Flash being involved makes the site usable or not is another story all together. Most web developers are smart enough not to turn the entire site into just a giant Flash plugin, and I’d bet that 40% of those top sites with Flash are actually running Flash ads or banners. I can’t honestly say that not having Flash has limited my viewing experience on any of my mobile devices. There’s always been a YouTube app for both Android and iPhone — and that’s 99% of my Flash needs right there.
But to be fair, Lynch spoke about the success of Adobe Air, which is an amalgamation of Webkit HTLM and Flash self-contained programs. It’s a very innovative way for cross-platform development, since all a user has to do is install the Adobe Air runtime base on their computer. After that, all Air apps just load up quick and easy. No cross-platform coding skills required. And it doesn’t chug on my Mac.
On The Future
Swisher probed Lynch on HTML5 and asked if it was a Flash killer. Lynch noted that they wanted Flash to grow with HTML5 and that…
“Flash has been successful since it provides things HTML doesn’t…[we want to be] adding more value to HTML5…we’ll write tools to take advantage of HTML5…There are certainly some working on HTML5 who are out to kill Flash….personally, we don’t see it as a killing Flash move … because flash wont remain stagnant.”
And while I’m hesitant to say I’m excited about the future of Flash, I’m happy to see that Adobe is already making moves to make sure their product doesn’t fall by the wayside. That’s competition and it keeps Adobe honest with their code and their optimization.
HTML5 vs Flash? Or will they live together? Time will tell.