Steve Jobs has published a long open letter to explain why Apple doesn't allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Jobs' first complaint is that Adobe Flash is 100% proprietary, he acknowledges that Apple has many proprietary products too, but explains he strongly believes that all standards pertaining to the web should be open.
He also notes Flash has one of the worst security records, claims the plug-in is the number one reason why Mac computers crash and argues that battery life and lack of multi-touch on old Flash apps are all good reason not to allow Flash on Apple's mobile devices. However, it seems the biggest reason why Jobs dislikes Flash is because it's multi-platform and developed by a third party, which according to him is problematic because it doesn't force developers to make the best apps possible for Apple's products (and make sure developers pay at least $99 a year to Apple).
We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.
This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.
Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.
Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.