Jobs on Flash: Hypocrisy So Thick You Could Cut it with a Knife

Holier-than-thou, an adjective, meaning “marked by an air of superior piety or morality”. Everybody has moments in their life where they get into a “holier-than-thou” attitude, and I think Steve Jobs’ open letter regarding Adobe, and Flash in particular, really fits the bill. There are three specific points I want to address to illustrate just how holier-than-thou, hypocritical, and misleading this letter really is.

Jobs’ letter contains a lot of good points. Flash is indeed a very problematic piece of software; its performance is terrible (although 10.1 improves this), it’s riddled with security issues, and it’s highly unstable. It crashes a lot, eats CPU, and to boot, opens up your machine to all sorts of security nastiness. To make matters worse, it’s proprietary and not a web standard in the true sense of the word.

That being said, Jobs’ letter is incredibly two-faced, hypocritical, and very misleading. It’s clearly a marketing trick to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers, and while that’s okay (they’re in it to make money, after all), it’s our job to remove that wool from our eyes. Just as we geeks immediately understand Microsoft’s ulterior motive in licensing patents to Linux/Android vendors, we should not just accept Jobs’ words either.

There are three points I wish to address specifically to illustrate just how hypercritical the letter is: Carbon, H264, and iTunes on Windows (or iTunes’ non-existence on Linux). The order is entirely random, and there’s no deeper meaning behind it.


In his letter, Jobs derided Adobe for not adopting new technologies quick enough, pointing specifically towards how long it has taken Adobe to leave Carbon behind. It wasn’t until the recently released Creative Suite version 5.0 that Adobe switched its applications over to Cocoa. Considering how old Cocoa is, it’s indeed about time.

But then, why did it take Apple so many years to transition the prime Mac OS X application, the Finder, to Cocoa? The Cocoa variant of the Finder shipped with Snow Leopard, which was released August 28, 2009. To make matters worse – iTunes still hasn’t been re-written in Cocoa, and is still shipping in all its 32bit Carbon goodness.

You could argue that surely, iTunes has no benefit from switching to Carbon and 64bit, and I’ll grant you that one. However, Apple has one massive application that is still fully Carbon and 32bit, an application that is very similar in scope to Adobe’s product offerings: Final Cut Pro is still written in Carbon, and is still 32bit. In other words, it’s okay for Apple to neglect Cocoa for Final Cut Pro, but it’s not okay for Adobe to take their time.

I think the prime reason it is taking/has taken both Adobe and Apple so long to transition these massively complex applications over to Cocoa is quite a simple one: it’s really hard. These aren’t Chess or TextEdit we’re talking about, people – we’re looking at what is probably a massive amount of complicated code.

It’s not just Adobe that has taken its sweet time to transition to Cocoa. Microsoft Office:Mac 2008 is also written in Carbon, and heck, even Apple itself is still in the middle of transitioning to Cocoa.


We’ve talked about this on OSNews in quite some detail already. H264 is no better than Flash. This video codec is proprietary and patented up the wazzoo, and therefore, wholly incompatible with the very concept of an open standard. To make matters much, much worse, the licensing body that oversees H264, the MPEG-LA, has stated in no uncertain terms that they will not hesitate to sue ordinary users for using the video codec.

Why, then, is Apple, in a letter full of talk of openness and standards, promoting this closed codec, a codec that will once again shackle the web to a proprietary technology, just as we’re busy breaking free from Flash? The answer is easy: follow the money.

Apple is part of the MPEG-LA, as is Microsoft. This means that the more people license H264, the more money Apple and Microsoft get, since their patents are in the patent pool. Steve Jobs might go all starry-eyed and gush about how much Apple believes in open standards and the open web, but just as with any other company – Adobe, Microsoft – this support ends where Apple’s wallet begins.

That is the sole reason why they’re promoting H264, disguising it as a web standard. As you can see, I can get very worked up over this. At least when Microsoft is talking about standards, everybody knows it’s out of self-interest; we geeks know Microsoft, and none of us will fall for that trap any longer. This, however, is not yet the case with Apple – people still have this 1984-esque perception of Apple being the rebel, and this leads to people accepting H264 without question.

This is dangerous, and will cripple the web once again. And yes, I will hammer on this subject on OSNews for as long as it takes. I have no problems whatsoever with proprietary software or technologies (heck, my media centres both run Windows 7, and I love my iPhone), but when it comes to the web, I am nearly militant about keeping it open. I still remember the days when not having Flash was a major problem on many alternative operating systems, and just as we are starting to break free from it, Apple and Microsoft come in, pull the wool over everybody’s eyes, and shackle the web to yet another proprietary technology.

I don’t want to boot up Haiku R1 only to not be able to watch video content on the web. It brings back too many unpleasant memories of yore.


This one is strongly related to the Carbon aspect. Jobs’ letter talks about how it’s bad for a platform if developers use cross-platform technologies, and more specifically, that Adobe has been slow in adopting new technologies in Mac OS X, with Carbon of course being the prime example.

And yet, without any sense of shame, Apple ships iTunes for Windows. iTunes for Windows is by far one of the worst pieces of (major) Windows software you can possibly think of. It does not integrate with Windows in any way, does not use any of the advanced technologies present since Windows Vista (refined in Windows 7), it’s incredibly slow, it crashes a lot, it still hasn’t been ported to 64bit (despite consumer 64bit versions of Windows existing since 2005) and in general, sucks harder than a… No, I’m not going to finish that analogy.

Oh, and of course, it installs a whole boatload of services that run in the background without actually asking you for permission. Install iTunes on Windows, and watch WinPatrol spaz out.

Remind you of anything? Yes, iTunes (and all other Windows software Apple ships) is the Flash of the Windows platform (other than, uh, Flash itself, obviously). The hypocrisy is so thick here you could cut it with a knife. What makes it worse is the situation isn’t getting any better – quite the opposite. Every new version of iTunes for Windows only seems to make it worse instead of better.

I have an iPhone and I love it. However, I will not install iTunes for Windows. I installed it to first set up my iPhone and transfer my CD collection, and then removed it as quickly as I could. I’ll install it again on a Windows machine once iPhone OS 4.0 is released. Point releases be damned.

This actually brings up the last point I wanted to make, yet another point to illustrate the hypocrisy. My main desktop, which I use for everything, has always had Linux installed alongside Windows, but somewhere late last year I realised I didn’t really use Windows any longer, so I decided to just remove it altogether.

This, of course, has cut me off from iTunes (yay!), while also cutting me off from access to my iPhone (boo!). It would be incredibly trivial for Apple to allow people to manage their iPhone’s and iPod’s contents manually through the file manager, but illustrating its love for double standards, Apple refuses to. They want to tie you to iTunes, world’s worst piece of Windows software.


I really dreaded writing this article, since it will surely be construed as me somehow being pro-Microsoft. The issue, however, is that pointing out that Microsoft is two-faced about open standards is about as useful as pointing out that humans need oxygen to live. Stating the obvious is not interesting.

Apple is continuously putting itself out there as the hero of open standards, which is okay. That’s called marketing and there’s nothing wrong with it. Every company does it (Google comes to mind), but the scary thing with Apple is that so many people actually eat this marketing up as fact.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to watch Twin Peaks on one of my Windows 7-powered media centres, while checking my iPhone for messages. I’m nothing if not totally aware of my own hypocrisy.


  1. DrillSgt 2010-04-29 5:09 pm EST
    • Thom Holwerda 2010-04-29 5:11 pm EST
      • DrillSgt 2010-04-29 5:30 pm EST
        • REM2000 2010-04-29 6:05 pm EST
          • supergear 2010-04-29 6:10 pm EST
          • StephenBeDoper 2010-04-29 9:57 pm EST
          • clhodapp 2010-04-29 6:27 pm EST
          • whorider 2010-04-29 7:34 pm EST
          • apoclypse 2010-04-29 8:30 pm EST
          • jptros 2010-04-30 8:37 pm EST
    • tony 2010-04-29 9:46 pm EST
  2. pietro09 2010-04-29 5:10 pm EST
    • danieldk 2010-04-29 5:24 pm EST
  3. grabberslasher 2010-04-29 5:15 pm EST
    • Earl Colby pottinger 2010-04-29 5:28 pm EST
      • kaiwai 2010-04-30 2:59 pm EST
  4. Shkaba 2010-04-29 5:17 pm EST
  5. mtzmtulivu 2010-04-29 5:24 pm EST
  6. mrnagrom 2010-04-29 5:25 pm EST
    • ebasconp 2010-04-29 8:37 pm EST
  7. darknexus 2010-04-29 5:29 pm EST
  8. parrotjoe 2010-04-29 5:46 pm EST
    • mtzmtulivu 2010-04-29 5:58 pm EST
      • bousozoku 2010-04-29 6:14 pm EST
        • AlexandreAM 2010-04-29 7:54 pm EST
          • bousozoku 2010-04-29 8:17 pm EST
          • AlexandreAM 2010-04-29 10:37 pm EST
    • aahjnnot 2010-04-29 6:20 pm EST
      • Hiev 2010-04-29 6:59 pm EST
        • parrotjoe 2010-04-29 7:10 pm EST
          • AlexandreAM 2010-04-29 7:59 pm EST
          • jabbotts 2010-04-30 12:46 pm EST
          • AlexandreAM 2010-04-30 2:10 pm EST
          • jabbotts 2010-05-04 12:56 pm EST
          • AlexandreAM 2010-05-04 4:25 pm EST
        • darknexus 2010-04-29 7:30 pm EST
          • Hiev 2010-04-29 9:07 pm EST
          • darknexus 2010-04-29 10:35 pm EST
          • Hiev 2010-04-29 10:37 pm EST
          • darknexus 2010-04-30 9:35 am EST
      • patrix 2010-04-30 4:48 am EST
    • StephenBeDoper 2010-04-30 3:37 pm EST
    • kaiwai 2010-05-01 3:57 am EST
  9. kragil 2010-04-29 6:01 pm EST
    • nt_jerkface 2010-04-29 7:49 pm EST
      • jabbotts 2010-04-30 12:53 pm EST
    • Zifre 2010-04-29 8:41 pm EST
      • Beta 2010-04-29 10:29 pm EST
  10. Hiev 2010-04-29 6:01 pm EST
  11. jboss1995 2010-04-29 6:02 pm EST
  12. bousozoku 2010-04-29 6:11 pm EST
  13. boulabiar 2010-04-29 6:32 pm EST
    • emilsedgh 2010-04-29 7:03 pm EST
      • Kroc 2010-04-29 7:07 pm EST
      • bousozoku 2010-04-29 8:16 pm EST
        • ephracis 2010-04-30 1:12 am EST
  14. Zaitch 2010-04-29 6:32 pm EST
    • tylerdurden 2010-04-29 7:36 pm EST
      • Shkaba 2010-04-29 7:58 pm EST
        • tylerdurden 2010-04-29 8:53 pm EST
          • macUser 2010-04-29 9:29 pm EST
          • Shkaba 2010-04-29 9:47 pm EST
          • bousozoku 2010-04-30 10:47 pm EST
          • Danny77uk 2010-05-03 2:48 am EST
      • gfx1 2010-04-30 4:00 am EST
  15. portagekix 2010-04-29 6:43 pm EST
  16. antenna 2010-04-29 7:04 pm EST
  17. alexn 2010-04-29 7:04 pm EST
    • Soulbender 2010-05-01 3:19 pm EST
  18. macUser 2010-04-29 7:37 pm EST
    • Thom Holwerda 2010-04-29 7:46 pm EST
      • macUser 2010-04-29 8:04 pm EST
        • wargum 2010-04-29 8:11 pm EST
          • fanboi_fanboi 2010-04-29 9:09 pm EST
          • Thom Holwerda 2010-04-29 9:11 pm EST
        • Shkaba 2010-04-29 8:22 pm EST
    • wargum 2010-04-29 8:07 pm EST
      • macUser 2010-04-29 8:33 pm EST
      • apoclypse 2010-04-29 8:58 pm EST
        • Thom Holwerda 2010-04-29 9:01 pm EST
          • apoclypse 2010-04-30 12:29 am EST
    • nt_jerkface 2010-04-29 8:14 pm EST
      • macUser 2010-04-29 9:09 pm EST
    • boulabiar 2010-04-29 8:16 pm EST
      • macUser 2010-04-29 8:38 pm EST
    • Soulbender 2010-04-30 6:37 pm EST
    • Soulbender 2010-05-01 3:20 pm EST
  19. djohnston 2010-04-29 8:03 pm EST
  20. elsewhere 2010-04-29 8:10 pm EST
    • nt_jerkface 2010-04-29 8:36 pm EST
    • Morty 2010-04-29 10:15 pm EST
  21. wargum 2010-04-29 8:16 pm EST
  22. Adam Scheinberg 2010-04-29 8:33 pm EST
    • David Adams 2010-04-29 10:39 pm EST
  23. Philip Grant 2010-04-29 10:12 pm EST
  24. henderson101 2010-04-29 10:30 pm EST
  25. mrhasbean 2010-04-29 11:15 pm EST
  26. kaelodest 2010-04-29 11:33 pm EST
  27. deathshadow 2010-04-29 11:34 pm EST
    • Icarus 2010-05-02 4:04 am EST
  28. lemur2 2010-04-30 3:17 am EST
  29. Bringbackanonposting 2010-04-30 6:32 am EST
  30. Mr.Manatane 2010-04-30 8:38 am EST
    • Beta 2010-04-30 9:05 am EST
      • Mr.Manatane 2010-04-30 11:10 am EST
        • wargum 2010-04-30 3:39 pm EST
    • deathshadow 2010-04-30 11:15 am EST
      • Neolander 2010-04-30 8:12 pm EST
  31. Ronin48 2010-04-30 3:10 pm EST
    • wargum 2010-04-30 4:48 pm EST
      • Ronin48 2010-04-30 6:32 pm EST
  32. antwarrior 2010-04-30 9:11 pm EST
  33. Envying1 2010-04-30 9:23 pm EST
  34. darknexus 2010-05-01 10:50 am EST
  35. A.H. 2010-05-01 8:27 pm EST
  36. Garibaldi3489 2010-05-02 5:47 am EST
  37. theolein 2010-05-02 5:10 pm EST
  38. Danny77uk 2010-05-03 2:44 am EST
  39. Duckula 2010-05-04 3:40 am EST