Apple seems to be getting all of the press lately about its anti-Flash ranting. I am sure this is fantastic for everyone else complaining about some of the inherent issues at hand here. If you look a little closer though you can see that Apple is not the only one thinking it may be time to take a look at another technology. While they certainly seem to have pushed the first domino over, many others are falling in line fast.
On the top of my list of people to watch in this arena are YouTube. If you have Chrome or Safari 4 installed you can get on their HTML 5 beta program. A little poking around and you will see what I suspected in the first place: it works fine and I can still watch my YouTube without sacrificing anything. Well, almost nothing. It is quite buggy at the moment but as those kinks are worked out, this will certainly improve.
We do quite a bit of Flash for clients and while I don’t see it going away anytime soon I do recognize that technology changes regardless of our personal opinions on it. You can chastise and argue all you want but if a shift happens you can continue to complain or move on and make what you do better. It would seem the only argument I have seen repeat itself on countless occasions is that Adobe has been around forever and has a huge penetration. Nowhere in that argument however does it mention anything about it being the correct technology.
Trying to be objective, and building off of something said here previously, is that Apple has had issues in the past with devices being “crashy”. Fair enough. Let’s solve that by ensuring all that things that make it to the iPhone won’t crash it. You can’t fault Apple for that. As a Flash developer I can attest to the fact that it does not always play by the rules and can often be found crashing browsers all over the internet. I have heard arguments can be made that perhaps if developers were more cognizant of their code, crashes would not happen. Sure, what if? However we know that not to be the case.
So what to do? I think it is telling when a media giant like YouTube starts rolling this out. Another big company rolling out is Brightcove, better known for delivering media to the NewYorkTimes and Wired. It does not appear that either company intends to get rid of Flash all together but both are clearly tooling up an iPhone/iPad friendly version of their service. This begs the inevitable question: how long will companies build two versions? My guess is not forever. While most will agree Flash is ubiquitous, what happens if Apple manages to secure a hold on the phone/app market they have on the MP3 market? Will developers care anymore that Android and Blackberry support Flash so we can funnel users there? My guess, no. It only takes a Google search every now and again to see the movement this has made already. Even Adobe admits that it cannot take this lightly.
So where do we stand on the matter? As mentioned we still use Flash here quite a bit but ultimately our clients drive us here. Our client’s marketing needs and business drivers run what technology is ultimately used. I don’t much care what Adobe says only what my client needs. Quite frankly if our clients want to design using an Etch a sketch we will be out buying those to work with. We are perfectly happy with how Apple is doing this and will evolve accordingly. In the end Flash may just not be the best technology to use on the devices and that is just fine.