Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs trashes Flash in devastatingly blunt open letter


Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs trashes Adobe Flash in an open letter titled
Steve Jobs really didn't care for Flash.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac
April 29: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs pens letter to Flash

April 29, 2010: Steve Jobs pens “Thoughts on Flash,” an open letter to explain why, basically, Adobe Flash kind of sucks. The letter marks the beginning of the end for the once-omnipresent plugin that powered multimedia in internet browsers for years.

Following the devastatingly blunt broadside, Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen hits back at Apple, arguing against Jobs’ complaints. But the Apple CEO has clearly made up his mind: iOS devices will never support Flash. The writing is on the wall.

Steve Jobs has some ‘Thoughts on Flash’

Jobs voiced several serious complaints about Flash. He said it drained batteries, caused computer crashes, and suffered from poor security. He also said the software didn’t work particularly well on mobile because it failed to support touch devices properly. Simply put, Jobs wrote, “Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content.”

Apple published the open letter, signed by Jobs, on its website. (Today, it no longer appears to be part of the site.)

According to Bob Burrough, a former software development manager at Apple, Cupertino explored the possibility of using Flash on iPhone. But Jobs had no faith that Adobe would adequately address the software’s security problems.

Nonetheless, Adobe’s boss fired back at Apple. He disputed allegations that Flash was bad for battery life and said that computer crashes were the fault of Apple’s own software. But the damage was done.

Also on this day…

Larry Ellison

1997: Larry Ellison calls off Apple takeover plans

Steve Jobs’ friend Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, calls off his bid to take over Apple. Ellison’s plan is to reinstall Jobs, who is then just an adviser to Apple CEO Gil Amelio, as the company’s chief executive. He also wants to take Apple private again. Keep Reading…

Apple vs. Adobe: The Flash war

At the time, tech pundits put both Apple and Adobe on blast. They either backed Apple’s complaints or vehemently disagreed with them. In retrospect, it seems like Jobs was absolutely correct to raise concerns about Flash.

The following year, tech writer Walt Mossberg told Adobe’s Narayen that Flash sucks on Android, too. And in July 2017, Adobe confirmed plans to eliminate Flash once and for all in 2020. In actuality, Flash was already pretty much dead, having been eliminated from the majority of websites for years.

Adobe finally pulled the plug on Flash in January 2021. And today, Flash will be an afterthought for many users. However, Jobs’ public callout made massive news in 2010. Ultimately, his scathing letter made the internet a better place for everyone.


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