October 23, 2010

steve jobs, flash, java, android, and the open web

First he kills off Flash on the device-oriented iOS platform. Then he states his intention to kill off Flash on the Mac laptop and desktop OS X platform. Now he's hinting that Apple is going to wipe out Java on OS X.

So what's Steve Jobs up to.

My guess is that he's sure he's got winners on his hands with iOS and OS X and is trying to winnow the field. Fewer platforms to compete with makes Apple's life easier. If they manage to deal serious blows to Flash and (client-side) Java, then it's really just Apple vs Windows, Android, and the Open Web.

I wouldn't be surprised if they think Windows is on a long slow slide downhill and so it's just a waiting game there. They probably think they can beat the Web with internet-connected iOS and OSX native apps. Oh, there's Andrioid out there too. iOS and the App Store are solid competition there and guess what else. Lots and lots of Android apps are developed with Java-based tools on Macs. Make that harder or impossible and that might put a dent in Android too.

The Open Web is my horse in this race and while I'm sure that Jobs sees the openness of the Web as a threat, I'm also glad to see him pushing back against Flash and client-side Java which I consider to be generally bad for the Web going forward. (There's no doubt that they helped to bring rich media and other goodness to the Internet, but with the re-emergence of the Open Web browser platform over the last few years, I think their time has passed.)

So, is the enemy of my enemy my friend? No. Absolutely not. Apple makes some damn fine products -- I'm a huge fan of iPhone, Macintosh hardware, OS X, etc (though I don't use any of them myself) but Job's view of computing is far less Web-like than what we have in Flash and Java, themselves not nearly Webby enough for me. The draconian control that Apple wants over the entire eco-system couldn't be further from my hopes for the future of computing.

That makes this drama very interesting to me because there's no one I want to root for. I guess I'll just keep it in my peripheral vision while I stay focused on bringing about a better and more open Web through Mozilla and Firefox.

Posted by asa at 10:29 AM