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Those Are Fighting Words: Jobs Takes on Flash and Set-top Boxes


Is there still life in Adobe Flash video? Despite that facts that the Flash player is almost universally adopted and Flash video is by far the dominant video format online, Steve Jobs thinks it’s on the way out. That was the message the Apple CEO gave the audience at the Wall Street Journal’s D Conference. He also had some interesting thoughts on the difficulty in selling TV set-top boxes.

The Apple-Flash feud got fresh fuel for the fire during the interview. Apple chooses technologies that are in their springs, Jobs said, meaning emerging technologies that are just starting their rise. Flash, he said, has had its day but it’s starting to wane. He added that 25 percent of online video was available in HTML5 and that number is moving to 50 percent quickly. Despite Apple’s attacks, it’s hard to see that Flash is in any serious crisis, or that it had started to wane before Apple’s public dismissal.

Jobs also said that Americans weren’t willing to buy a set-top box to download Internet content to their televisions because they were used to getting set-top boxes for free from their cable or satellite provider. Hooking up boxes also means that the viewer ends up with a  table full of remotes. The only option, he said, is to go back to square one and redesign the set-top box user interface. There have been strong rumors lately that Apple is moving forward with the successor to the Apple TV, one that only streams content and that that’s vastly smaller than the original (not to mention cheaper). Jobs’s comments have Apple-watchers wondering just how different the new Apple TV will be.

During the interview, Jobs also foresaw the decline of traditional computers and the rise of mobile devices, suggested a value in letting two cellular networks carry the iPhone, and said he didn’t think Apple was in a platform war with Google.




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