The Future Of Flash

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Adobe Flash from the very beginning, and now the program’s very future may be in jeopardy.

I use a Mac at work and a PC at home. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but something I’ve always found fascinating was how Mac users (and a lot of other people) have made Steve Jobs out to be some sort of sandal-wearing, world-saving saint. Bill Gates, they will tell you, is a money-grubbing con artist, but Jobs is the salvation of American business. If you’ve paid attention to the latest turf war between Apple and Adobe, however, you’ve learned quickly that Apple is all business, and that you should never, ever mess with Steve Jobs.

It’s all about the iPad, really. You know, that super hot, super cool, super giant iPhone that Apple rolled out this spring (and has already sold a bazillion of)? Well Mr. Jobs wants to maintain control of the apps that run on said iPad (and iPhone for that matter), and that means controlling everything that runs on the device. If you’ve ever dealt with Adobe (a huge company that makes Flash, Acrobat, Photoshop and a lot of other important software), you know that they are control freaks. But they have nothing on Apple.

Jobs and his gang put the “freak” in control freak, and that means kicking Flash to the curb so that they can make as many of the rules as possible (the side effect of this, for the record, is that Apple’s apps almost always work correctly). Apple has thrown its support behind HTML5, an emerging web standard that does a lot of what Flash does (movement, video, etc.) without the bother of a plug-in. And so, Flash has been left out of the iPad/iPhone/mobile web frenzy of the last few months.

But iPads are just a small percentage of the computers in the world, right? True, but man are they hot right now. Plus, the iPhone is still the best smart phone in the world (for now, don’t sleep on Android) and all smart phones currently struggle with Flash (something Adobe is scrambling to address). The sum total of all this Apple media attention is that even non-Apple companies are doing a lot of talking about Flash and HTML5 (especially as they pertain to mobile web and smart phones), and guess what the cool “pick” is now? (To be fair, companies like Google and Microsoft have been backing HTML5 for years.)

How serious is Adobe taking this? Serious enough to hire lawyers for legal posturing and serious enough to (allegedly) tattle on Apple to the FCC for anti-trust issues. Why? Because the tide of public opinion – informed or not – is definitely in Apple’s favor right now, and Steve Jobs is using it to put the boot to Adobe Flash. Apple doesn’t like the program and they want to kill it, plain and simple. The scary thing is that I think they’re going to pull it off.

What does that mean to you and your web site? Maybe not much for now (after all, Adobe still brags about the installed base for Flash being something like 98%), but the more mobile web users there are, the more important it will be – because right now it looks like Flash is being left behind in the next phase of the internet. If you want to appeal to mobile users, it may be wise to create a secondary, mobile-friendly version of your web site. Then, when mobile and traditional internet collide in four or five years, changing your entire web site to HTML5 is probably going to be a necessity.

Want to find out more? Contact us here at Anchor and we can help you to understand the whole thing.