November 9, 2010
When Apple released their new MacBook Air last month, the industry was surprised (but not too surprised) to see that they didn’t ship with Adobe Flash Player pre-installed. Macs, along with nearly every other PC, had shipped standard with Flash pre-installed for well over a decade. Apple has been at odds with Adobe (specifically regarding Flash) lately, so while it was a significant move, it wasn’t completely unwarranted.
Once the Airs were out in the wild, a few tech bloggers and reviewers decided to test how performance changed after they installed Flash. The results were pretty shocking: amongst other things, the battery life dropped by as much as 2 hours once Flash was installed and used regularly. Two hours!
The technical details of why or how that happens are beyond the scope of this post. But those details weren’t specific to the MacBook Air. Meaning that theoretically, any Mac would have a better battery life without Flash installed. The only reason that this was suddenly discovered with the MacBook Airs was because Flash is quite a bit easier to install than to efficiently uninstall, so having a laptop that shipped as a clean slate made doing those benchmarks much easier.