Long time no see! I’ve been busy, sorry. First off all, I want to congratulate you on the great show today. Wow, that iPad is truly one of those things everyone is going to want to have, like your previous successes with the iPod and iPhone. I take my hat off for that! And wow, what a lead up to the show. Probably the first hype of 2010. And do you guys know how to keep a secret and then give a great show unveiling it.
That being said, I felt as an avid Apple products user as well as your friend, (you know I own a total of 3 Macbooks, a plethora of Airports and have converted nearly my entire family to buy one of those nice machines of yours) (actually it was Grant who got me into buying one) it’s my duty to inform you that I think something went wrong during your presentation. When you were showing the web capabilities of the iPad, something was missing in it’s browser (see screen-shot above). As your keynote and product presentations are normally flawless (ah, well, maybe not always), I think you might have missed this one.
You touted the iPad’s (great product name, btw) web capabilities as being amazing, perfect, you know, the regular Apple thing. But during the presentation I couldn’t help but notice that little “missing plugin” logo we all know from the iPhone. Now, I was thinking that this might have been one of those very exotic plugins of back in the day, like Director or Realplayer. But, as it turned out, the missing plugin was the Flash Player.
As you’ve started the introduction to the iPad with a reference to Netbooks, and we can safely say that most netbooks support Flash, I think we are both safe to assume that to be on par with those netbooks, the minimum you should have is a fully featured browser?
I mean, this is not some kind of small screen device with limited capabilities in terms of performance and graphics. It’s a fully featured machine ? Be it with that amazing iPhone touch interface. And be it in a slightly new package intended for true casual and business use. (Honestly, you kind of confused me, games and reading books ? I thought the gaming generation didn’t read and vice-versa, ah we’ll talk about that after you write me back on this letter).
Anyway, I think it must have been a demonstration error, because it seemed like the iPad didn’t support Flash?
Ok, now, who am I kidding. I know you’re a perfectionist. And you’re a man of subtle remarks too. Between you and me, you can admit it. We both know that little missing plugin logo wasn’t an accident. I think we both know why you did it. It must have been your kind of humor, getting back at that little prank Kevin and Johnny of Adobe pulled on you at Adobe MAX. (see picture above too). You have to admit, that was funny. Man, we all laughed about that one. But hey, I always think that if they’re teasing you, they must want your attention. All in all, they didn’t mean any harm.
(I do agree with you that they should’ve spent some more cash on the explosion effect in the video, being the maker of some of the most premiere video effect software out there, but hey, it was a good prank video, executed very well).
Now, given some of the easter eggs in Mac OS X, which essentially is your baby, through that other thing you did, with that next-cube thing you were so enthousiastic about back in the day, I take it you have a fair amount of subtle humor in you. It always reflects in your letters and I always have to laugh when I think about how you made that joke about a mouse only needing one button. But, as always, there’s a time for fun and a time for seriousness. And you seriously can’t mean that the full featured web browser doesn’t support the biggest plugin out there?
If you do mean it, I can understand why. I’ve never really bought that, “Flash is too slow for the iPhone” story you told everyone at that party. I also know for a fact that RIM, Nokia, Samsung, NVidia and all those guys also didn’t believe it.
And yeah, I know that little stunt Adobe pulled with compiling directly from Flash to iPhone isn’t the same as running it in the browser, but hey, it is the output of Flash running on an iPhone. And surely there’s a lot of content which can now be readily available in the App store. And if that puny little ARM processor in an iPhone can, then surely that incredible piece of custom silicon you so proudly called the Apple A4 can. (it’s ARM too, right?).
Ahh, going off track, I was saying that I understood why you would not want Flash. I know having rich, web enabled apps which don’t go through the App store can be a scary thought, food for nightmares. I know you’ve had a thing for nightmares, especially after Monster’s inc. But Steve, I have to tell you. A device which is intended for casual and easy use with all the slickness Apple always brings, but doesn’t support so much web content? Come on, what will the people think? Those netbooks you called slow and PC-ish, can run Flash, but Apple’s state of the art technology can’t?
Yeah, I know it’s hard to have that piece of proprietary software running so much content essentially being a separate platform, while having no control over it. But that’s why Kevin and Johhny where throwing those jokes at you. They want to help you, really. And again between you and me, isn’t it true that you’re always selling computers when those guys at Adobe come up with a new version of their creativity software?
I would like to also come with a more serious note, as your friend, I know I can remind you of this one. Do you remember that when I was still using a PC, we were always talking sh*t about those guys at Microsoft for dominating the market? About how they pulled that monopoly thing on Netscape with that “lovely” (I still remember the word you had for it) browser we all still despise, Internet Explorer. And what they did to Real by bundling that Mediaplayer? Well, as it turns out, they kind of ran into some anti-trust issues with the European Union. I hear it was quite costly for Bill. While I agree the iPhone was a completely different thing, you can’t bring out a computer and expect everyone to think it’s just a big iPhone and then pull all that stuff off that our friend at Microsoft once did, right?
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re going to say. Flash is proprietary too and there should be an open alternative to it. But honestly, in terms of open initiatives competing with it, it seems those HTML5 guys are still not ready for it, and although having H.264 video support native to the browser is nice, it hardly replaces what Flash can do right now. Not to mention all that content already being offered by Flash, people can’t see on the magnificent iPad. If pure HTML5 content is even 1% of that, we both know that would be a lot. I do feel you should be open to any plugin, honestly, so the guys at MS/Silverlight and Unity3D, for instance, also get a shot. All in all, it’s your product’s users who are going to suffer for it otherwise. Now, as I’ve made my living building Flash apps, of course I am biased, but doesn’t every developer deserve a fair shot?
You were always this idealist, but this thing is making you look like you are just plain greedy, at the cost of your end users, not being able to access all web content. Give me back the idealist Steve, I love that guy! (I’ve included an old picture of you to remind you of that man).
Now, you know I do admire that you’re not like all those others and you’re doing things your way (and it seems to work), I think you’re going down the wrong path on this one, or this might have been just an error. If it was, just fix it before release, and we’ll keep it between you and me.
Sincerest Regards, your friend,
(quick note, can you make Johnathan stop saying the word Magical, every time he’s talking about one of the products he designs ? Frankly, it’s a bit annoying. And he’s not designing unicorns or leprechauns.)
(quick note 2 : if you do manage to talk to Kevin or Shantanu at the next party, ask them if their engineering people can talk to your engineering people about that video hardware support and performance issues, I think it would make many of our friends happy).