Apple dumps Flash from Mac OS X

Gregg Keizer
24 October, 2010
View more articles fromthe author

Apple will stop bundling Adobe’s Flash with Mac OS X, the company confirmed on Friday.

The new MacBook Air , which debuted earlier in the week, is the first Flash-less system from Apple. Other systems will follow suit as the company clears out inventory of Mac desktops and notebooks that include Flash.

Mac users will still be able to install Flash themselves, and Apple has done nothing to block Flash from running.

“We’re happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac, and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans said in reply to questions on Friday.

The move also puts an end to Apple supplying Flash security updates to Mac OS X users as part of the operating system’s patch process. Instead, users will have to know about, locate, download and install those fixes themselves.

That’s not smart, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security.

“What Apple is doing is separating themselves from the security community,” said Storms, who didn’t cotton to Apple’s decision. “Users, who are likely running an outdated version, typically don’t even know when Adobe issues patches.”

“I just don’t see the upside of this. Apple’s not helping out,” Storms said.

In the absence of Apple patching Flash, Adobe said Mac users were on their own for now. “Adobe recommends that users download the most up to date version of Adobe Flash Player from,” a spokeswoman said.

She urged Mac users to regularly monitor Adobe’s security blog , which posts news of impending and available Flash updates, or subscribe to its RSS feed to stay atop fixes.

Adobe plans to produce an auto-update notification feature in a future release of Flash Player for the Mac, but declined to set a release date. The feature would be similar to what’s now offered to Windows users.

People running Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome will have an edge during the interim.

Firefox, for example, includes a plug-in checker that detects out-of-date add-ons, including Flash Player, and provides a link to Adobe’s download site. Chrome, meanwhile, automatically upgrades Flash Player in the background.

While Evans made no mention of Apple’s anti-Flash stance, Storms saw the decision as another example of the rocky relationship between Apple and Adobe over the technology.

“Apple’s trying to separate themselves even further from Flash,” Storms said. “Microsoft doesn’t update Flash either, but they seem more interested in working with vendors than Apple. Adobe is a good example.”

Microsoft and Adobe collaborate on security, Storms argued, pointing to the latter’s July announcement to join the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), which gives select security companies early warning on upcoming patches.

Adobe has also adopted a version of Microsoft’s Software Development Lifecycle (SDL), a program designed to bake security awareness into products, and picked Microsoft developers’ brains to create the “sandbox” technology, slated to show up in Reader next month.

Storms, who in the past has criticised Apple for patching Flash months after the same fixes were available for Windows, wondered why the company singled out Adobe’s software.

“If they’re going to say they’re doing it so that users have the most up-to-date versions, then they should stop issuing patches for every other third-party application in Mac OS X,” Storms said.

Apple and Adobe have been at loggerheads over Flash ever since the former refused to allow the popular technology on its iPhone. The dispute has been heated this year, as the two companies traded blows over Flash content on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, with CEO Steve Jobs trashing Flash in an April public missive and the co-chairs of Adobe’s board of directors accusing Apple of undermining the web in mid-May.


5 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Callum Masson says:

    A backward step for customers – now ‘I’ have to manage my add in’s. Thanks – I might as well be using Windows if this keeps up… java, flash

  2. Thijs says:

    They also announced that Apple’s Java won’t be shipped with OSX anymore, so this move is not exclusively targeted at the Flash Player, their attitude towards other third-party products changed as well.

  3. Mikko Quilala says:

    LoL.. i think this story is hilarious!! i wonder what would happen if Flash didn’t create a platform for Mac?!?!

  4. Anthony @ iPhone Auctions Australia says:

    Apple are clearly paving the way for HTML5. Their elitism is quite clear for all to see.

    There is no upside for customers in this decision from Apple. It’s only in Apple’s best interests to do this.

    Flash is still alive and well, and being used on millions of sites that people use everyday. This BS about HTML5 becoming a standard just doesn’t stick. Anyone who owns an iPhone knows this, as so many sites simply don’t work on a iPhone or iPad.

    Apple need to take a reality check and stop telling people what they should do with their computers.


  5. Brett says:

    Seems like another move to put distance between Apple and Flash. Steve Jobs is right that Flash is a drain on battery life – my own testing on my MacBook Pro 15″ is that Flash intensive web pages approx HALVE the battery life – I don’t think even the optical drive drains battery like Flash does. The sooner a more efficient alternative is out there the better IMO. What does HTML5 have in store?

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us