Here’s my response to Jobs’ letter. I’m not a developer, but I may have some feelings about technology and openness so if I get some of the tech stuff wrong, deal with it:
1. Yes, Flash is a closed system. So is iPhone. Jobs justifies this by saying that standards related to the web should be open, but its okay for an operating system to be proprietary. My question: Why? Android has shown that an open phone OS can work as well as Apple’s closed system and be more versatile in that different versions can exist for different users and devices but in a way that will still be familiar to all (for instance HTC’s Sense UI for casual users, vanilla Android for more tech savvy people, and the various versions being developed for devices ranging from tablets to TVs). Even on computers, Apple ended up building their latest OS on an open platform (Unix) but creating their own proprietary design and user experience on top of it. Why couldn’t they have done this with their mobile products? Jobs could have maintained the design control he is so known for, while still promoting openness.
2. Jobs, basically, cedes the “full web” argument here. He talks about how much video and gaming is available in iPhone friendly formats, which is true, but 70% does not equal 100%. If I can see it on the computer on my desk, I want to be able to see it on the computer in my pocket.
3. Okay, Flash may have the best record on security. Why not allow it to run on the phone, and give people who are uncomfortable with the security issues the option to turn it off or uninstall it. Let ME make the decision as to how secure I need to be, as I will be the one to suffer the consequences. Feel free to pop-up a disclaimer every time I run flash to cover yourself legally, just let me make my own choices.
4. What basis is there to determine Flash’s effect on battery life? There is no release version of Flash running on any mobile devices yet. Adobe is certainly working on incorporating hardware decoding into their upcoming mobile versions of Flash, and I have no doubt that within the next year we will see phones released with separate video processors capable of hardware decoding flash. No one is saying Flash is ready to go on the iphone right now, but Jobs has taken current release versions of Flash on Macs and used that data to make determinations about all potential future versions of mobile Flash.
5. Again, Flash 10.1 for mobile doesn’t exist in release form yet. No one is asking Jobs to put non-existant software on the iphone, just to leave the door open if and when a mobile friendly version of flash is released and make evaluative decisions about that Flash, not Flash from 2003.
6. If developers want to develop using Flash, let them. If their apps suck, people won’t buy them or download them. Its how market economies work. If they get shut out of future developments because they built their apps on technology that proves to be outdated or under-functional, that’s not Steve Job’s problem, that’s the developer’s problem.
To sum up: Yes, Flash is basically crap. But, there is a lot of good stuff on the web that needs this crap to run. Let me decide if I want the crap or not. After I pay a ton of money for the gold brick you just shat out (and nobody denies Steve Jobs’ ability to shit gold) it’s mine to smear feces on or not if I so desire.