I read Tom Arah's Apple vs Adobe: some surprising statistics this morning, and was confused by a couple things. First, I guess I'm not surprised that there are more iPhones + iPod touches + iPads than Linux computers on the Internet, but can Linux share (including Android) really be < 1.1%?!?

The linked report claims 0.85% for 'Linux' + 0.09% for Android 2.1 + 0.05% for Android 1.6 + 0.03% for Android 2.2: about 1.02% total. That's shocking -- I thought Linux was much more common, although I guess the large number of Internet-enabled (smart)phones has diluted the Linux desktop market share a bit in recent years.

But the money quote, for me:

Moreover there’s little doubt that, if they were given any say in the matter, the overwhelming majority of that 1.1% would choose to see Flash and Silverlight content (presumably including those who choose to block Flash content by default in their desktop browsers but still install the player).

  1. Aside from browser creators, the only significant chunk of people who actually install Flash are Linux desktop/laptop users. Users never install Flash, or its share would be much lower than 97%!
  2. On the desktop, the trend is very clear: users put a lot of effort into avoiding Flash content. I have used 3 different Flash blockers and find them invaluable. Tom acknowledges this. His statement that users "still install the player" is crap. The best you can say for Adobe is that most users do not delete the Flash player.
  3. Tom's claim that "the overwhelming majority" of users would install Flash if they could is completely unjustified. I don't want to see Flash ads, videos, or games on my iPhone or iPad -- I'd much rather have h.264 videos (no ads!), and simply skip Flash ads and games on my mobile devices. On the Mac I use another plugin to see h.264 YouTube videos instead of Flash.

People who are aware of this struggle understand that h.264's recent growth has largely been at the expense of Flash video, and because iOS doesn't support it. If the iPhone & iPad supported Flash, we'd be watching (or trying to watch) videos in Adobe's broken mobile Flash player.

So what I get from this article: Although iOS/h.264 are clearly in the ascent -- at the expense of Linux/Flash -- it's too early to say the race is over, and Tom Arah either wasn't thinking very clearly, or deliberately warped a few facts to kinda-sorta support his agenda.

FWIW, it would be nice if kids could run Flash games on the iPad, but there are so many good (free) games that this isn't really a problem. I've gotten several Poisson Rouge iPhone apps, and I see a bunch of Club Penguin apps, so it's not a big problem.

PS-The reasons Google supports Flash on Android are pretty clear -- it's not because Google & Adobe are the good guys, and Apple and the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) are evil villains.

  1. h.264 is more open than Flash.
  2. Before the Apple/Adobe tiff, I believe (but cannot confirm) that Google stated that Android would not support Flash.
  3. Google and its handset partners use Flash support on Android as a feature differentiator against the Apple iPhone.
  4. Google markets Android as open and embracing of Flash, while they paint Apple as closed and restrictive. But previously Google & Apple were allied in embracing the openness of h.264 video.
  5. Flash on mobiles means Android users will eventually get to see YouTube ads (once the mobile Flash player can handle them). Win! (for iOS users)