Wabewalker (wabewalker) wrote,

Flash and the iPhone: Highly Improbable and Equally Illogical

Silicon Alley Insider is beating the old “Flash on the iPhone” drum again, and I’ve had a couple of private communications about the same. The claim is that Apple is missing out by not supporting (or even allowing) Flash.

Apple users may be missing out on a large chunk of the web, but is it an important chunk? Hardly.

Dan Frommer says, “Web sites aren’t being built with just HTML, CSS, Javascript, and H.264.”

Where has he been, stuck in the ’90s? Outside of YouTube (which is migrating to H.264), there’s nary a drop of Flash on Google or any of the major Web 2.0 properties out there. AJAX rules the roost. Actually, I can’t speak for Facebook; I don’t use it. Yahoo! has a smattering of Flash, but the Y!UI libraries show how a compelling DHTML (HTML, Javascript, and CSS) experience can be made. DHTML is more than adequate for the task; if your designer can’t get the job done without falling back on Flash, get a new designer.

Try surfing with the Flash plug-in disabled; you’ll find the experience much smoother than you would be led to believe by the Adobe marketing department. Flash was created to get around inconsistencies in browsers: fallout from the browser wars of the ’90s. Since Microsoft has recently back-tracked on their attempt to freeze standards at the (broken) IE7 level, expect far more progress in the consistency area.

Flash is good for only two things: games and ads (maybe video, but H.264 is much more efficient and video sharing sites need to squeeze out every drop of bandwidth). Apple is interested in neither for the iPhone, or even the desktop. As far as corporate navigation goes, any company that uses Flash for navigation beyond a worthless splash screen is more than likely only supporting Internet Explorer, so there’s no loss for Apple there.

Flash/AIR and Silverlight are both battling for control of the Rich Experience Web, and as the number of non-Flash, non-Silverlight web sites have shown, the Rich Experience Web does not need either one. Jobs is unlikely to cede control of his user experience to Adobe (which can barely get Flash to run on a full-fledged Macintosh) or to Microsoft (for obvious reasons).

In many ways, Apple is doing a stealth grab for the Rich Experience Web with WebKit: by providing a portable reference platform for HTML+AJAX+CSS+SVG, it can influence W3C standards in ways that benefit its needs. Even Adobe is controlled by Apple in that regard: Adobe uses WebKit as the rendering agent for AIR.

Do you really think a megalomaniac like Steve Jobs is going to leave the implementation of the user experience to another company, especially Microsoft? Do you?

Yeah, neither did I.

Hm, “HTML+AJAX+CSS+SVG.” “HACS.” I like that acronym. Web 2.1, anybody?

Tags: apple, silly pundits, technology

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