Since the beginning of the iPhone, much has been talked about its lack of Flash support. With the introduction of the iPad earlier this week, and its similar lack of support, it seems like the beginning of the end of one of the most prolific tiffs in Silicon Valley. Whether it has been for design purposes, aesthetics, ego, or control there’s something just over the horizon that may just spell the end of Flash any way.
The HTML 5 specification is the next revision of the venerable Hypertext Markup Language that has driven the World Wide Web since Day One. The first working draft of HTML 5 has been available since 2008 and although it probably won’t be finalized as a standard for many years yet, the Chrome and Safari browsers already support it. Which makes sense considering Google and Apple are the two driving forces behind it.
The interesting thing about HTML 5 from Apple’s perspective is that one of its stated purposes is the minimization (or total elimination) of the plug-in based Internet. HTML 5 takes many of the web tricks that require a plug-in today, like embedded video and audio, and renders them in the browser. Web browsers that support HTML 5 don’t need an extensive plug-in inventory if the page has been coded in HTML 5. If you’re running Chrome or Safari, head over to YouTube and try out their HTML 5 demo. The experience is seamless and indistinguishable from the Flash-based YouTube. Vimeo is also starting to offer a collection of iPhone-friendly videos.
So you probably see where I’m going with this. As HTML 5 gains more and more traction (and it will with Google and Apple behind it) plug-ins like Flash become less and less important. With that in mind, the recent comments by Adobe about iPad seem more like schoolyard name calling than any concern for user experience. Flash had a time and place in the history of the Internet and instead of evolving and changing it, Adobe decided to sit on the cash cow for as long as they could. Now as Apple ignores it and the Internet leaves it behind, Flash will probably be a forgotten technology. I guess that’s what happens when you pick a fight with Steve Jobs!
I’d be interested to hear what you think. Will emergent technologies leave Flash behind? Is Steve Jobs an egomaniac that’s ignoring a portion of the Internet for his own purposes? Drop us a comment and let us know.
By: Erin Peterson