It seems that lately there has been a war raging between Apple and Adobe and now Steve Jobs has finally thrown down the gloves and taken it to the next level.
When Apple recently launched the iPad, they launched it with no support for Adobe’s flash player. In fact, you can’t even install it on the iPad if you wanted.
What could this mean for online media?
This one single product not supporting flash won’t be enough to throw Flash out of the marketplace, but what is going to happen as more products from Apple begin to follow suit? What are webmasters going to start doing if Steve Jobs decides to continue this trend on the iPhones, the iPods and their actual computer systems?
Webmasters who want to reach broadest audiences possible are going to be forced to ditch Flash and follow the new open media formats that all the newest web browsers are going to be supporting under the new HTML5.
Is Apple justified in their decision?
Is this a good move for Apple or are they just using their position to bully one of their rival companies? It’s an important question. In fact, this question is so important that the United States Department of Justice has decided to look into it.
In Apple’s defense, there are quite a few reasons that people should start looking for alternative ways of presenting their online media.
- It’s not open. Although Flash is free to download, it’s copyrights are held by Adobe. They control it’s future including it’s pricing and it’s capabilities. You have to get it from Adobe and you have to abide by their terms of service while using it. Apple advocates that all standards related to the web should be open.
- The Full Web. Adobe works hard to convince people that 75% of online media is available through their flash format. Just look at YouTube. What they fail to make known is that the vast majority of this material is also available in these new, open formats.
- Security. Flash was highlighted by Symantec as having one of the worst security records of any software during 2009. In fact, Flash has been determined to be the number one reasons that macs crash.
- Performance. Regardless of the platform, flash fails to deliver the high speed experience that users really desire on mobile devices. Time after time, it continue to provide experiences that are slower than the new open alternatives.
- No Touch-Screen Support. Flash has yet to support people using their fingers as a means of interacting with their content.
After digging through the reasons that Steve Jobs provides for moving away from Adobe Flash, it seems understandable. They seem to paint a picture of a brighter future with a much better online media experience.
So what’s so bad about not supporting flash?
Of course, it’s important to note that these new online media formats aren’t currently able to replace Flash in the aspect of interactive media. In other words, the thousands upon thousands of Flash games and interactive Flash based websites are not going to be accessible on Apple products.
Apple counters that argument by touting that they now have 50,000 apps that can be downloaded, but we all know that some of those pieces of online media haven’t been replaced by apps and some probably never will.
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
So is Steve Jobs bullying a rival company or is he making decisions that will improve the way that we all interact with and consume online media?