“When technology becomes religion things get nasty.”
At Apple, Lynch is going to be VP of Technology and work for well-respected executive Bob Mansfield.
Lynch is the target of outrage, confusion, and vitriol from some of the most influential Apple writers on the Internet. And it’s all because of Flash.
Lynch was previously the CTO of Adobe. As the CTO of Adobe, he was responsible for Flash, the video technology that powered the vast majority of desktop web video.
Apple didn’t include Flash for the iPhone because it didn’t work well on mobile. Three years after it launched the iPhone, it launched the iPad, which also didn’t include Flash.
At the time, it was a controversial decision.
The iPad looked like a web consumption machine, but it would miss out on the majority of web video because it didn’t support Flash.
Steve Jobs was pushing for video to be supported for the iPhone and iPad with HTML5 instead of Flash. We’re not going to dig into the arance details of HTML5, but basically it’s a next generation open standard for supporting web video. Adobe’s Flash was a proprietary standard.
Jobs was not a fan of Flash. He listed five reasons Apple didn’t support Flash: It’s not an open standard, it’s buggy and insecure, it’s not designed for touch screens, it drains battery life, he didn’t want developers using Flash and then porting their apps to iOS.
Jobs was the most powerful, media-savvy, and convincing person the technology world will ever see. He was known for having a “reality distortion field” that made the things he said seem true even if they weren’t. That’s a backhanded compliment to the guy. He was right more often than he was wrong.
In this case, Jobs was right. Adobe eventually gave up on Flash for mobile devices.
But not before it put up a fight. Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s CTO, was the guy who had to lead the fight against Apple.
He tried a variety of techniques. He wrote a blog post, spoke about it at tech conferences, talked about it in interviews, and even made a cringe worthy video where he pretends to blow up an iPhone.
None of it worked, and in retrospect, it all makes him seem foolish. He was defending a technology that was not very good.
He clarified what he meant by bozo, linking to a post by hedge fund manager Eric Jackson, who wrote, “A bozo is someone who thinks they are much smarter and capable than they actually are. They constantly over-estimate their abilities and under-estimate the risks and threats around them. They typically don’t keep an open-mind. They look instead for data that confirms a previously held bias.”
Anonymous writer, Kontra of Counternotions, also piled on, tweeting, “Here’s a technical lie from Lynch, 2010: ‘The technology issue Apple has with us is not that our tech doesn’t work, it’s that it does work.'”
Venture Capitalist and prominent Apple writer MG Siegler didn’t have anything as blunt to say as those people, but he was stunned by the news.
Wired writer Steven Levy, who doesn’t worship at the alter of Apple in the same way many others do, suggested people should chill out, and that Lynch was a “star”.
He may be a star, but there is reason for concern over the Lynch hire. He was loud wrong about Flash, going against Apple and Steve Jobs.
Apple has recently flopped in some of its big executive hires from outside the company. Mark Papermaster was brought in from IBM and quickly shown the door. John Browett was brought in from Dixon’s to run the retail business and quickly shown the door.
Lynch, with his past of being loud wrong, could be the next big Apple hire to be shown out quickly.
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