Like many of his fellow Adobe bloggers suddenly free to support Adobe’s new position on why Flash is so “open” and “good for consumers”, John Nack at Adobe had an interesting post which he started off like this:
“Today Adobe ran a full-page ad in various newspapers articulating key company beliefs, and company founders John Warnock & Chuck Geschke–whose PostScript innovations were instrumental in the adoption of the Macintosh & desktop publishing–posted their thoughts on open markets & open competition:
Adobe’s business philosophy is based on a premise that, in an open market, the best products will win in the end — and the best way to compete is to create the best technology and innovate faster than your competitors.
John continues on in his post talking about why he loves Apple, how he wants to “…build the most amazing iPad imaging apps the world has ever seen” but “who will decide” if he can get them accepted in the Apple App store? He then goes on to pontificate about innovating, the good of competition, and that his reader should care about this debate, “…because these issues affect your choices as a customer & a creative person.“
All the brouhaha about no-Flash on the Apple iPad, how great Flash is (by the Adobe folks) and how HTML5 will be the savior of us all is not lost on any of us in the tech community. So having experienced the resource needs of the hungry runtime known as Flash, I decided to do a quick-n-dirty experiment to see just how much CPU is used by the Flash runtime to play a video on my 2.33Ghz, Intel Core2 Duo, 4GB RAM, Macbook Pro.
Kara Swisher of AllThingsD interviewed Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch and posted the video today (in Flash, naturally). I thought it would be ironic to test the CPU use of Flash as a layman — a man who frequently has his “chestnuts” roasted from the nearly open fire of heat on the bottom of my Macbook Pro generated by the CPU being driven really, really hard by Flash — by playing his video in Flash and measuring its CPU utilization vs. a video played in HTML5 (on the YouTube beta site for HTML5 videos).
Bottom line? Flash uses on average 50% of my Macbook Pro CPU to play a video and HTML5 uses “in the teens” (15% – 19%). If you want to see more, watch this VERY rough and quick-n-dirty video (sorry about the cheesy audio) I did to show you why I’m pleased that, either Adobe make Flash awesome, or Apple NOT put it in to the iPad:
UPDATE: If you’d like to read one of the best overviews I’ve seen yet of the controversy — and whether or not the iPad even needs a Flash runtime for video or anything else — see this AppleInsider post entitled, “Inside Apple’s iPad: Adobe Flash“. It’s a three page article so be sure to read all the pages.
There is a debate underway over the proprietary nature of Adobe’s Flash vs. the open standard, HTML5 (see, “HTML5: Could it kill Flash and Silverlight”). On the one side, Adobe has positioned their platform as being quite open and yet proprietary enough to “provide everything you need to create and deliver the most compelling applications, content, and video to the widest possible audience“. HTML5 is an open standard that will, in part, deliver audio, video and interactivity and is a specification which promises to deliver the core functionality of Flash.
Adobe’s John Dowdell (JD) had an interesting post about this debate and reinforced Adobe’s positioning that their approach with Flash is rich, robust and focused on the delivery outcomes customers want and that HTML5 is immature and, as Adobe’s CEO pointed out on their analyst call, “…it might be a decade before HTML 5 sees standardization across the number of browsers…“. Wow…talk about an insertion of major FUD in to the analyst call.
What strikes me about this entire discourse is the words of Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, who I heard giving a talk at an open source conference several years ago. Describing the phases any new or disruptive technology goes through (and specifically open source) is first it’s “crappy” — and no incumbent pays attention to it — then it’s “less crappy” — and early adopters take to it — and when it’s “good enough” the tipping point occurs and it’s widely adopted.
One could argue that HTML5 is in the crappy-about-to-be-less-crappy phase and Adobe isn’t paying much attention since publicly they don’t perceive it as much of a threat (except Google and Apple are behind it 100%), but I think it matters less “when” HTML5 appears (and what the adoption curve looks like), or even a “proprietary vs. open source” argument. I think what matters is which vendor of tools is going to embrace the standard and empower the ecosystem.