Since the introduction of Apple’s iPad, there has been a growing sense of change on the Internet. Web sites, corporations, and users have been migrating away from the constraints of non-standards based technologies like Flash. While the perception of growth and change has been there in the public consciousness, there really hasn’t been any quantification of it. Numbers released by media firm MeFeedia have finally put a face on this change and it presents a very interesting picture.
According to MeFeedia, 26% of all web video in May was iPad accessible. While that may not seem like a significant amount, consider the growth implied by MeFeedia’s numbers. In January only 10% of web video was accessible by the newly announced iPad device. In 5 months 16% of viewable video on the Internet moved to present itself in a format accessible by the iPad. That’s an incredible figure.
Now many will point to these numbers and call Steve Jobs a bully. They’ll say that by limiting the premiere media consumption device his company makes, he’s driven a my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards HTML 5 and H.264 adoption. And to some extent those people would be right. On the other hand it would be as equally correct to say Steve Jobs has engineered a revolution only, well, Steve Jobs could have engineered. As standards, HTML 5 and H.264 have languished underutilized and fought over for years. The only serious users have been proponents of an open, standards-based web like Google and web app developers. Apple’s refusal to put Flash on the iPhone started a realization that Flash has quickly become an unnecessary item in the developer’s toolkit. Rich, immerse web apps were possible without the need to involve third party plug-ins. Indeed, the original intent for apps on the iPhone were for them to be entirely web-based and written in HTML 5. It was only through pressure from the development community that Apple relented and made native apps possible.
So where does all of this leave Flash, the iPad and HTML 5? Two of the three are very obviously on the way up and the other is on the way down. This isn’t going to degrade into another Flash-bashing session, there’s been enough of those online in the last three months to fill a lifetime. Remember, the iPhone and its lack of Flash support had a negligible impact on Flash’s usage numbers. What we have now is a unique nexus of points; the popularity of the iPad coupled with the beginning of widespread HTML 5 adoption coupled with the general unease and dissatisfaction Flash usage has finally created. It will be interesting to watch how subsequent numbers from MeFeedia chart the rise of standards-based video display and the fall of Flash-based solutions. The numbers are destined to move up for the former and down for the later.
Do you think the MeFeedia numbers point to a general trend or are simply an aberration? Did the availability of the iPad provide the final weight that tipped the balance against Flash? Is Steve Jobs just a big bully that wants the Internet to work the way he wants? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.