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Adobe CEO and President Shantanu Narayen  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen responds to Steve Jobs' open letter

Earlier today, Steve Jobs pulled out a shotgun and fired away at Adobe at point-blank range. Jobs laid out a six-point plan of attack detailing why Adobe Flash is detrimental to the Mac and iPhone/iPod touch/iPad mobile platforms and why the web should just let the "proprietary standard" die.

Well, we knew that Adobe wasn't just gonna let Jobs' barbs fly without a response -- and like clockwork, Adobe's CEO has answered back. The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray interviewed Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen about Jobs' comments and here are a few of the highlights:

  • Adobe believes in open content; Apple is threatened by Adobe's penchant for creating cross-platform software.
  • Narayen likens the fight between Apple and Adobe to the rift between Jon and Kate Gosselin.
  • Jobs' open letter was merely a "smokescreen"; Apple's restrictions are stifling development and have "nothing to do with technology".
  • Narayen refutes the assertion that Adobe Flash is the main reason why Macs crash.
  • Jobs' comments about poor battery life on machines using Adobe Flash are "patently false".
  • "It doesn't benefit Apple, and that's why you see this reaction".
  • Narayen asserts that the consumer should be able to decide which technologies they want to use and he thinks that a multi-platform world is where the future is headed.

Interestingly, Narayen doesn't make any mention of HTML5 which Jobs suggests that developers use to crush Adobe Flash. You can view the full interview here at the WSJ's Digits blog.

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By Gungel on 4/29/2010 4:31:25 PM , Rating: 5
- Jobs' comments about poor battery life on machines using Adobe Flash are "patently false".-
I assume he refers here to HTML5 which in itself uses as much if not more CPU power than Flash 10.1

By nafhan on 4/29/2010 4:45:35 PM , Rating: 3
Good point. It'd be interseting to see some battery life comparisons doing similar tasks in both Flash and HTML5.
It wouldn't be conclusive as Flash and HTML5 implementations differ by platform and aren't both available on all platforms. Flash on Android may be able to give us at least a good idea of how bad it would actually be on the iProducts.

By sprockkets on 4/29/2010 6:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Already been done somewhere. Sometimes Flash one, sometimes HTML5 did.

Regardless, playing video anything is going to drain the battery. However, even here on anandtech, his benchmarks show that just flash based crap on the web page will kill the battery.

By Targon on 4/29/2010 7:57:35 PM , Rating: 1
And do you know or understand why any one application might cause an increase in battery life? Seriously, so many people who either love Apple or hate Adobe(or Microsoft) try to use clearly bogus or misleading claims to back up their perspective, without there being enough evidence to make for an airtight case.

Basic concept number one: In most modern operating systems, the CPU speed is reduced when CPU usage is low, which helps reduce power conservation. This will apply to battery life in laptops as well. If the CPU is being used more, it will run faster(up to its rated speed), and that will drain battery life faster.

Basic concept number two: Many applications that COULD offload tasks to the GPU have not been coded to do so. The whole idea of GPGPU is to encourage developers to use graphics chips more and more often for various things that historically have been powered by the CPU. This means that the CPU has been doing more work, which ties into concept one.

Basic concept number three: Intel graphics has ALWAYS been substandard, which means that graphics have had to be toned down, or more work has to be passed on to the CPU. Even when something SHOULD be handled by the GPU, if the GPU can't handle it, the application may be coded for the CPU to pick up the slack.

With these things, take a look at Flash. It handles animation, and it MAY take a fair amount of CPU power to do what is being requested. Note that if a poorly coded Flash application is running, it will draw more CPU power than a well coded application. This may not be the fault of Flash itself, but of the coders who make the flash applications. It would be like a poorly written C application that is designed so poorly it requires more effort than it should if coded well. People blame Flash itself, but that blame may be on the wrong thing.

So, Adobe has been moving to use hardware acceleration for Flash to offload a lot of functions to the GPU. It is a welcome change, and helps reduce CPU usage, which in turn will cut back on power demand. You could run any other program that makes heavy use of the CPU, and it will drain battery in the same way, because battery draw is based on how active the CPU is.

As far as the whole Windows draws more battery power on a Mac than MacOS, I have said in other threads that you CAN tell Windows to only use 5 percent of the CPU MAX while on battery, and you will probably get similar battery life to MacOS, because that is how MacOS has been tuned. If you force MacOS to run the CPU at 100 percent while on battery, and you set Windows to the same thing, battery life will be identical between operating systems. Just because you don't see the settings does not mean they are not there.

Put HTML 5 code up to do the same amount as Flash, and it will drain the battery just as quickly. Just remember that you have to look at how things are programmed, because even the old C example of displaying "Hello, World" could be coded using poor libraries to run faster or slower, even if the visible results are identical.

And then, you also have the OS design being closed on MacOS, so some things that may be fairly simple under Windows may be more convoluted under MacOS. You can see how poor native Mac apps run when ported to Windows(Now Contact is a great example of this) if the port isn't done using native methods to do things. Now, how many apps that started on the Mac have been ported to Windows? Have you ever compared the versions?

By sprockkets on 4/29/2010 10:27:46 PM , Rating: 1
Whether you have the GPU or CPU do it, you still are consuming more energy. Just because the GPU is doing it doesn't magically make the power usage go away.

Btw, regardless of the OS used, Flash running in the browser decreases battery life. Not based on anything but empirical evidence on Anand's own laptop tests.

And do you know or understand why any one application might cause an increase in battery life? Seriously, so many people who either love Apple or hate Adobe(or Microsoft) try to use clearly bogus or misleading claims to back up their perspective, without there being enough evidence to make for an airtight case.

You act as if people will cut Adobe slack for such poor tools or for poor coders. No one not interested in excuses or apologies.

By Targon on 4/30/2010 8:11:31 AM , Rating: 4
Due to the design of a GPU, it will be a more efficient chip for certain tasks, so it actually cuts power usage by moving certain things to the GPU, including Flash.

Now, ANYTHING that is running in the browser, including HTML 5 would decrease battery life due to an increase in CPU/GPU usage. This is the point, it isn't Flash that causes it, but the fact that the animations and flash stuff in banner advertisements just adds to the amount of work the machine does.

You could just as easily say that running any application, or compiling a program, or watching videos will decrease battery life compared to letting the machine idle. Yes, some apps use more CPU power compared to others, but you are trying to claim that HTML 5, which isn't even out there and being used yet is going to be better.

You ASSUME that Flash is at fault, but without something that really competes with it and has been designed to do the same things, you don't have any valid comparison to prove your point. Now, if HTML 5 can do EVERYTHING that Flash can, and when we see HTML 5 based advertisements that are identical, and web pages that currently use Flash are coded to do the same exact thing with HTML 5, then you can prove it.

I am not saying that Flash is NOT at fault, just that you have no proof that Flash is any worse than anything else.

Oh, and running any game will drain more battery life than running Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer, but you should expect that.

By sprockkets on 4/30/2010 12:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
But my original post said that sometimes HTML5 won and sometimes Flash won. Forgot?

Here's the difference: Each browser has the responsibility to make it work well, and isn't tied to waiting for Adobe doing it for every platform or OS/CPU/GPU.

By Alexstarfire on 4/30/2010 12:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't something like Silverlight a flash competitor?

By darkblade33 on 5/3/2010 6:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
IMHO being HTML5 code isn't finalized yet .. and browsers are not HTML5 tuned its early to say.. I mean Flash 10 wasn't as good as 10.1 ... HTML5 is still being edited by Google's Ian dickson. ( Oh gee... Apples not editing it ? )

By darkblade33 on 5/3/2010 6:57:32 PM , Rating: 3
Comparing a very mature & hardware optimized Flash 10.1 to an unfinished product ( in this case HTML5 when it is still being edited ) and browsers aren't even HTML5 tuned isn't going to give anyone the real picture, yet here it is being benchmarked like its fact. Its great for debate when people are bored and don't have all the facts, but you have to expect Flash to be ahead when they have a huge headstart.

By darkblade33 on 5/3/2010 6:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
The thing I wonder is how forthcoming other companies are about flash... As Apple has been publicly.. other companies may not be as public.

IMHO it seems other companies understand flash is still needed (for now), but yet they would also like to minimize flash usage. There was an article here at Daily Tech, credible or not, that said MS also wanted to minimize Flash usage.

Ian Dickson of Google is actually the Editor of HTML5.. what does this mean ? Is there proof in action that Google converted its mobile webistes, like Youtube, to non-flash formats?

Also.. TO BE FAIR, its safe to say Flash for now will be more efficient. Flash 10.1 was better then 10.. Where am I going with this ?? ... Well.. HTML5 is in its early stages and code isn't even finalized - so its not close to being optimized...when it is.. it should be right there or better ..

By Spivonious on 4/29/2010 5:12:03 PM , Rating: 4
And Flash is used for lots more than just video. HTML5 simply moves the video player from Flash/Silverlight/WMP/whatever to the browser.

By pequin06 on 4/29/2010 5:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
Is it really up to Adobe to give a damn about battery life?
If Adobe writes a good app, one that doesn't bog down a system or crash, shouldn't that be it and the rest to the OS?
Sounds like Apple is trying to pass the buck for their inefficiencies.

By walk2k on 4/29/2010 5:27:53 PM , Rating: 3
Wait I thought Macs never crash because they are so well-made?

Anyway we all know the reason they don't want flash on the iP*d - then people could write flash apps for free and cut Apple out of their $$ from the app store.

By sprockkets on 4/30/2010 2:04:26 PM , Rating: 2
Plenty of free stuff on the app store. Cost or revenue for Apple isn't the issue. It's them forcing you to use their programming language vs. Flash.

By icanhascpu on 5/1/10, Rating: 0
By dtgoodwin on 4/29/2010 6:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
HTML5 video may have high utilization, but not nearly as high as Flash on my hardware. HTML5 video plays beautifully on my Atom dual-core nettop that can't begin to play even standard definition Flash videos (comparing the same video - flash vs. HTML on youtube) in Chrome.

By MadMan007 on 4/30/2010 1:21:20 AM , Rating: 2
Have you tried a browser other than Chrome? Because I had a chance to use a Dell mini 10 some time back and SD Youtube flash fullscreen was very acceptable - not quite perfect but very good.

By LRonaldHubbs on 4/30/2010 7:40:59 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like you have other problems. I would try a different browser first. Using Opera I can watch flash videos no problem on my Atom N450 netbook.

By inighthawki on 4/29/2010 6:43:17 PM , Rating: 4
Keep in mind that by offloading to the gpu, you now have to take it into consideration. It may free cpu cycles up for other tasks but it certainly doesn't mean you can ignore the work being done on the gpu when calculating battery life.

By darkblade33 on 5/3/2010 7:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript – all open standards.
HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google, Microsoft and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash).

Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit.

Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

By darkblade33 on 5/3/2010 7:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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