Why is Flash video so awful?

On demand TV is still dependent on Flash
On demand TV is still dependent on Flash

Can we have Flash now? So went the tasteless internet meme just moments after he who was once known as his Jobsness passed from 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino California to, well, the infinite loop.

As a pretty PC-centric computing enthusiast it would be all too easy to sneer knowingly at Jobs' fundamental refusal to allow Flash video onto his iPads and iPhones.

It's certainly hard to square Jobs' claim that the iPad offered the best possible browsing experience with the fact that he'd locked users out a massive chunk of the web.

As it happens, the lack of Flash video support is the only reason why I don't own an iPad. But I don't want to get into an argument about that. Instead, I'm going to contradict myself and say that Jobs had it right. In fact, I'd like Flash banned on PCs with immediate effect. Because Flash video is by far and away and without a shadow of a doubt the worst thing about using a modern PC.

At this point I probably need to qualify things a little. Casual PC users probably won't have a major issue with Flash. Light web browsing with one or two browser windows or tabs open isn't enough to out Flash's awfulness. Not most of the time, anyway.

Per-tab threading

As a proper web junky, however, I've finally and comprehensively lost my rag with Flash. For the record I'm a Chrome user. It ain't perfect, but for better or worse it's my favourite browser. But it pretty much perfectly showcases how awful Flash video is.

Chrome is threaded, of course, which should mean that your general browsing session just keeps on trucking, no matter what. But Flash isn't threaded. So when it bombs out, it's brings your entire browsing world down, all 68 tabs of it.

You could argue it's my tendency to have a ton of tabs open that causes a lot of the problem. But even if that were true and it wasn't the case that it's about time Adobe coded it for efficient per-tab threading, Flash has plenty of other problems.

Can HTML5 save the day?

As I sit and write this, the Daily Show stream on 4oD I'm half watching has just hung. For the third time. If I want to pick up where I left off, I'm going to have to sit through no fewer than five full length ads. Again, for the third time.

Meanwhile, over on my laptop, the video turns green after five seconds in iPlayer. I can fix that by turning off hardware acceleration, but then my CPU gets hammered and my battery life goes south. A graphics driver update might do the trick, but why should I have to bother when I rarely going on never have any issues with other video formats? It's just Flash.

I used to think Jobs was being a bit of a bully in his dealings with Adobe regards Flash. But I've had enough now and as far as I'm concerned Adobe got no more than it deserved for allowing Flash to remain so shonky.

Of course, HTML5 is coming to save the day. But it's taking its sweet time. Until it has entirely taken over, Flash will be my number one computing enemy.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.