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Apple iPad and Flash

April 6, 2010

Wired Magazine – Online

Apple Promotes ‘iPad-Ready’ Websites Ditching Flash

By Brian Chen

Apple’s campaign against Adobe Flash has become explicit. The company on Thursday published a website of “iPad-ready websites,” listing sites that support “the latest web standards — including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.”

Clearly Apple believes Flash is an outdated standard. Apple has reportedly been urging web developers to use HTML5 for video playback rather than Flash. Noticeably, HTML5 appears 10 times on the “iPad-ready websites” page.

Websites on-board the iPad-ready boat include The New York Times, CNN, Reuters the White House and others.

Apple’s lack of Flash support for the iPhone has been a paramount complaint among critics who believe they’re missing out on a big chunk of the web. Apple’s persistent lack of Flash support for the iPad reinforces the corporation’s vision of a future where Flash is left behind.

But as simple as it may sound to ditch a format in exchange for another, Wired.com’s Webmonkey editor Michael Calore points out that ditching Flash for HTML5 would be complex for the web as a whole. (HTML5 is technically not a format, after all.) He points out that there’s no agreed upon video format for HTML5, and support varies greatly from browser to browser.

“Not to be overly critical of Apple — anyone pushing for open web standards deserves kudos — but the company seems more deeply concerned with digging Flash’s grave than it does with promoting semantic markup,” Calore wrote.

Commentary/Synopsis

Apple’s iPad launch has been making news since word of it spread earlier this year and few can argue the buzz the iPad has created. Apple’s move to ditch Flash on the iPad brings about a host of questions. As web architects, information designers, and code writers, it is vital that we stay on top of relevant technology and the resultant implications. Currently Flash is used on websites for multimedia displays including photography profiles and animation.

For those companies who wish to be consumed by the public utilizing the iPad, they are being forced to adapt their sites and change to be less flash based. HTML5 – considered to be the next major revision of HTML – is repeatedly referenced on the Apple iPad site as the key ingredient to viewing the Web on the iPad. However, HTML5 is not in the final standard state yet. WC3 indicates it is in the Working Draft state, which means there could still be changes to how our markup language functions. But web architects are already looking for ways to adapt or adopt HTML5 to meet the demands of the iPad consumer.  Are these architects jumping the gun? Or acting as innovators? Are they seeking to increase access to their information? Or just seeking to build their bottom line?

And what does this imply about Apple? How can one company have enough influence to change coding practices? Not standards, per se, but common practices that could influence standards.  Yes, you could argue that a web site does not need to toe the Apple line to be successful. But Apple has developed a reputation in the technology world of being a leader, the ones to follow for the latest and greatest. Is it a good idea to let them, or to let any company, dictate the direction of technology? How could this trickle down to the roles and responsibilities of an information professional?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 12:53 pm

    I am also conflicted by what Apple seems to be doing with their ipod touch/iphone/ipad line of consumer goods. On one point they are forcing/speeding the adoption of HTML 5, which I think could be a good idea. But they are also using their economic weight to wage a war against Flash. Flash certainly has its disadvantages but, any war against standards and wide usage mostly hurts its consumers and end users. Apple seems to want to control all content, the way they want it displayed, a walled garden approach which I dont agree with at all.

  2. rquickslis permalink
    April 7, 2010 4:01 pm

    I am mystified also on what Apple is trying to do. I am not a mac person per se, but have owned ipods in the past and recently bought an ipod touch, which is great for surfing the internet while I watch sports or whatever. However, the absence of flash support is a real downer as you cannot even view a lot of popular websites and content. I guess websites will have to decide whether or not to change their sites for the mac crowd and those with I-mobile devices. It will be interesting to see what will happen. Thanks for posting.

  3. Theresa permalink
    April 7, 2010 5:24 pm

    “But Apple has developed a reputation in the technology world of being a leader, the ones to follow for the latest and greatest.” It’s important to remember that Apple isn’t the only technology leader – there’s Google, RIM, and all kinds of South Korean, Japanese and Chinese companies. Apple doesn’t meet a lot of the needs of mobile users in non-North American countries and there are a LOT of users in non-North American countries. Heck, Apple even restricts some features to the United States only, meaning that in Canada I can’t use some iTunes features with my iPhone.

    People get all excited about Apple and it’s got a lot of brand loyalty, but it’s another corporation trying to dominate the market, just like Microsoft tried to…

    Thanks for the thoughtful article.

  4. Nathan permalink
    April 8, 2010 10:17 am

    Interesting topic. Maybe I’ll post a new thread that provides more information about HTML5. Maybe. We’ll see.

  5. jurisfiction permalink
    April 8, 2010 12:31 pm

    I think this comic sums up some of the issues in a humorous (but still true) way.

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