November 6th, 2010
What do I think about this recent “movement” to uninstall Flash? Glad you asked.
I think it is great. Flash has certainly been a tool to help us get to where we are today and no one could argue with its ubiquity. It is a tool that was good enough to get the job done and pretty much everyone had it.
But tools have cost and some are more expensive than others. Flash has proved to be a bit too expensive on the Mac for some people. At the cost of performance and battery life – some would rather do without that particular tool and go with another one. One that costs less, seemingly has the same quality but maybe less features. HTML5 video playback, on most up-to-date Macs, outperforms Flash video playback in nearly every way except features. But, arguably, most every day uses for video do not need many features.
So why do I think it is great that so many are uninstalling Flash? Because there hasn’t been enough pressure on Adobe over the years to improve Flash’s performance on the Mac. Adobe has been updating Flash for years but (and this point is probably arguable) they’ve been worried less about performance on the Mac then they’ve been worried perhaps about features. They’ve spent more time making Flash do more instead of simply doing it better.
Apple started putting pressure on Adobe by releasing the iPhone without Flash. Apple never said Flash didn’t do anything useful – they simply pointed out what needed to be improved in Flash for it to run on the iPhone. Performance and stability were the two biggest complaints from Apple. The two things Adobe seemingly hadn’t been focused on. And Apple also thought Flash didn’t have very good interactions with a touch-based interface. Something Adobe could probably address rather easily.
With the success of both the iPhone and iPad obviously the guys at Adobe should have been striving pretty hard to make Flash run much better on these mobile devices. Obviously they haven’t done that or been able to accomplish that because – well, Flash still isn’t on the iPhone.
Then Apple decided that the new Macbook Air performs much better without Flash being installed and so they’ve left it out of this model by default. Something they learned from not having Flash on the iPhone and iPad. The new Macbook Air can boast a considerably longer battery life and better CPU performance simply because it does not have Flash installed.
Sure, many new Macbook Air owners will still install Flash the moment their browser tells them they don’t have it – but I’d bet they are selling boat loads of these Airs so there are still going to be a lot of people without Flash running around the Web.
This recent fad of Flash being uninstalled en masse by the Mac tech crowd, the Fireballers if I may, is simply the next squeeze on Adobe. Yet another reason for Adobe to step up and alleviate the reasons people are uninstalling Flash.
Put simply, if Flash didn’t cause our Macs to melt and our batteries to die this conversation wouldn’t be happening. The iPhone would have shipped with Flash, the iPad too, and we’d all be happy to have Flash installed on our Macs. But the truth is Flash really sucks on the Mac. And as a Macintosh user and someone who works for a company with a very big Flash product – I’m hoping that Adobe is being squeezed hard enough now to make something finally happen. To finally make Flash better on the Mac.