Apple’s iAd & Adobe Flash

Ok, Flash has always been slow and Apple just didn’t want to have something like that on a mobile device like the iPhone or iPad. That’s their official version but I think there is more behind it. Right, it’s slow. It never had true hardware acceleration (10.1 is introducing that btw – on the PC) and you had to optimize the ActionScript code to make things fast and memory saving. Recently I had a training on ActionScript 3 and learned a few things about optimizing code and making it efficient. It’s tricky as many other things in ActionScript. Sometimes you just have to abandon some ideas like alpha tweens and rotations here and there in order to make your swf run smooth. Also keep in mind that a poorly programmed Flash file might eat up your battery by doing nothing like looping something that doesn’t need that.

In my opinion the introduction of iAd mobile brings a new aspect to all what Apple said about Flash. I don’t think it’s only the technical problems it caused and that Apple didn’t have resources to develop their own Flash player. It’s because most display ads are built in Flash and Apple wants their App developers to integrate iAd and NOT something else that would be probably based on Flash. Imagine Steve Jobs presenting the iPad to the press and showing the website of the New York Times and suddenly a wrongly build display banner ad tries 1. to download several megabytes of data and thus slows down the loading of the page content and 2. it animates in a way that Flash is using 100% CPU time. Gosh! That would be a disaster. In my job I deal with display advertising and such CPU-eater ads are nothing uncommon. Dual or Quad-Core CPUs handle them better than Single-Core CPUs but a mobile CPU like the A4 of the iPad can’t handle such things I guess. The out-of-specs ads downloading several megabytes of data are sadly something I see nearly on a daily basis. Agencies and advertisers force publishers to run them with the argument that they can’t size them down to preserve quality and they go elsewhere to spend the money if they can’t run them. The largest ad that I have ever seen downloaded a video of 20MB via “polite download”… OK, polite is designed optimize the loading order (first the page content then the ad) but someone with a limited data plan doesn’t want to spend his money on downloading ads!

I think that all together pretty well justifies Apple’s refusal of Flash!

Steve’s introduction of iAd: