Lately, especially since Apple’s announcement of it’s “revolutionary” new product, there’s been a debate brewing about Adobe’s Flash and its future. The argument goes something like this: the advent of HTML 5 is going to render Flash obsolete and useless, or something like that. The argument goes that HTML 5’s ability to handle video will lessen dependence on Flash and allow browsers the ability play said video with out the need for any plug ins, thus making the browser more stable and….blah, blah, blah.
There are several problems with this argument. First, it requires that the browsers be able to interpret HTML 5 and, currently, only a few Webkit based browsers even remotely support it. And, as we’ve seen with the preponderance of Internet Explorer 6, getting people to upgrade the browser is damn near impossible, and, no, we geeky types do not count. I am speaking of the average user and most companies. With out HTML 5 browsers, Flash is still necessary.
Secondly, Adobe will step up and keep the plug in relevant. It makes a lot of money on the products to create the Flash content and, you can bet, they do not want to lose that revenue stream.
Third, Flash is more than just video. Admittedly, I’m not up on HTML 5’s capability, but, I’m sure, that it lacks allot of the functionality that Flash offers, in terms of interactive games and other things. Even if it can, how many sites can afford or will be willing to convert its content?
Lastly, there are the people who are making the argument. Most, if not all of them, at least the ones I’ve been following, are well known Apple fans. It seems to me that these same people are trying to either justify or validate Apple’s stance on Flash. These same people are iPhone users and many of them have expressed their affection for the upcoming iPad, which also will eschew the plug in. It is like the kid who got a knock off video game instead of the real thing and then trying to convince everyone else that it is, in fact, much better than the real thing. The kid comes up with some reasonable arguments and what, on the surface, may seem logical but is really a smokescreen to hide their disappointment. Excusing Apple for not allowing Flash on the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and then coming up with reasons to back it up is the same thing as that kid defending the knock off game. It is sad.
The lack of Flash on these devices also raises the question of honesty. Apple, and Steve Jobs himself, have proclaimed that you get the ‘real Internet’ on these devices. How can it be the ‘real Internet’ if: You cannot go to HULU and watch CSI or the Office, cannot go to Candystand.com and play Billiards or go to the New York Times and get the complete site without seeing the little Lego brick? It is misleading to make that claim and leave out a great deal of what is on the Internet. Absurdity at its best.
I’ve no great love for Flash or pretty much any plug in. Plug ins are inherently bad as they add yet another layer of complexity to the browser. I recognize the need for them, but they do cause problems and can be difficult to correct.
I wonder what the anti-Flash crowd would think if Apple suddenly switched gears and supported Flash. The arguments, I’m sure, would go away, never to be heard again. The Unicorns will be dancing around the pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow.