On Apple & Adobe Flash

There’s lots being said about Apple, Adobe and Flash support. This is the 6,342,213th opinion on the matter, but the first from me.

First off, what’s the big deal? Well, Adobe and Adobe/Flash supporters are up in arms about Apple’s increasing discrediting/dislike/disbarring of Flash on the Iphone and Ipad (no, I don’t capitalize iPhone and iPad according to Apple marketing- get used to it). They seem to think Apple owes its customers Flash support since so many websites out there power their video and whatever else with Flash. Apple says “Use open standards like H.264, HTML 5, etc.” The Flash crowd chants back “Those aren’t really open” or “Flash is as open as Apple’s narrow allowance for what can and can’t be on their products.”

All of this misses the point.

People who work in technology always prefer working on the newest, shiniest things. No one wants to code sites to work in IE 6 anymore and so we urge and beg people to upgrade while we implement more advanced tricks for the browsers that can handle them. HTML5 is the sexy new thing and people will quickly absorb it into their everyday even though much of the installed base of browsers don’t understand it yet. No technology lives forever, in other words, and Flash isn’t immune.┬áNow, I’m not saying Flash is dead, far from it. But I am saying that it now has worthy competitors for such things as web video and, because of the competition, it’s a marked target.

By not allowing it on any of its devices, Apple is pushing the envelope of progress. Remember the criticism Apple endured when they decided not to ship computers with floppy drives anymore? Same thing only that this time, there are no analogous third party floppy drive makers to soothe people’s withdrawal. Apple has simply become more efficient at pushing us into the future whether we like it or not. But believe me, in the long term, we always like it.

UPDATE 4/29/2010: Steve Jobs posted a message about all of this. I get the sense that he makes the same basic claim I do: it’s time to move on.

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