If you've ever wondered why you see a little blue Lego brick rather than a video when using Safari on an iPod, iPhone or iPad, it's really down to the personal preferences of two very rich and powerful men.
Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, is never one to mince his words or compromise when it comes to his company or its products and has exhibited these qualities once again with an "open letter" explaining his thought's on Adobe's Flash products amid the ongoing hostilities between the two companies.
When the iPhone was first launched, many criticized its inability to play the Flash video used on many websites including YouTube. Websites created using Flash technology were also incompatible with the iPhone.
With the launch of the App Store most of these complaints were calmed and Apple's own YouTube app solved part of the web video problem, however a number of major sites such as The New York Times still use Flash and therefor cannot be viewed properly in the iPhone's Safari browser.
Adobe is "lazy"...
At a recent meeting of Apple employees, Jobs was said to refer to Adobe as "lazy" and referred to its buggy versions of Flash for the Mac as reasons not to support it on Apple's mobile devices. These comments were supposed to be behind closed doors, but Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash" posted last week on Apple's website is for the world to see. Apple has also banned the submission of any apps to the App Store that were built using Adobe's new Flash CS5 tools.
In his notes Jobs explains: "I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe's Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads."
Running through six topics covering everything from Flash's inability to work with touch devices through security issues and battery life, all the while promoting the new HTML5 standard, Jobs concludes with this stinging sign off "Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind".
Adobe's CEO Shantanu Narayen has, in some part, responded to Jobs' harsh words in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in which he refutes a number of Jobs' statements referring to them as a "smokescreen" as well as finding Jobs' reference to Flash being a closed standard as "amusing". The fight back from Adobe appears to be focussing on its belief that all devices are equal and its software allows developers to create apps for a number of devices while Apple wants to control and manipulate its own hardware and software platform.
In some ways, Narayen is right. Everybody wants their sites and apps to be available on these highly popular Apple devices. Security and performance issues aside, by allowing Flash apps and sites into the mix, Apple would be relinquishing some control and would provide Adobe with more power. Without Flash, app developers must stick to using Apple's own tools to create software for the App Store and web developers must take advantage of the open HTML5 standard to keep their sites compatible. Adobe is left out in the cold until it decides to toe the line.
So what's the result of all this squabbling?
Adobe will push on and allow developers to create content for all of the other devices out there while being forced to ignore Apple, the market leader. On the flip-side, Apple will feel little effect while continuing to develop its ecosystem and maintain control of its developers and platform.
For these reasons, along with Jobs' pigheadedness when it comes to quality and control, the blue bricks will remain until the rest of the world catches up to Apple's view of the future - and that doesn't include Flash.
image credit: Flickr user Ping ping