BLOGOSPHERE: Flash sparks Apple-Adobe spat

The blogosphere is buzzing over a fierce debate between Apple Inc. and Adobe Inc. concerning the absence of Adobe Flash support on iPhone and iPad devices.


The controversy began earlier this week after Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch proclaimed that his company was on the verge of delivering Flash Player 10.1 for pretty much every smart phone in the world except the iPhone.


Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to this by providing his reasons for why both hugely popular Apple devices lack Flash support. He charged that the technology is “too buggy” and that Adobe has been “lazy” with its development.


Apple also said it intends to move toward alternatives such as HTML5 and is asking developers to use standards such as CSS, JavaScript and Ajax instead of Flash.


This prompted Lynch to respond on Adobe’s official blog site.


“Adobe supports HTML and its evolution and we look forward to adding more capabilities to our software around HTML as it evolves,” he wrote. “If HTML could reliably do everything Flash does that would certainly save us a lot of effort, but that does not appear to be coming to pass.”


“Even in the case of video, where Flash is enabling over 75 per cent of video on the Web today, the coming HTML video implementations cannot agree on a common format across browsers, so users and content creators would be thrown back to the dark ages of video on the Web with incompatibility issues.”


The typical online response from Apple supporters could be summed up by Chris Rawson, a blogger with The Unofficial Apple Weblog.


“I know anecdotal data is the worst kind there is, but in nearly a year of using my iPhone to connect to the Internet, not only have I not missed Flash, I’ve been glad it isn’t there,” he wrote.


“Flash’s performance on Mac OS X is so abysmal that when YouTube announced an opt-in HTML5 beta to replace Flash, I bounced up and down in my office chair in glee. I can only imagine the bag of hurt that would be introduced if Apple let Flash run on its mobile devices.”


Download Squad blogger Jay Hathaway agreed, saying that while Adobe’s claim that 75 per cent of video on the Web is powered by Flash appears to put Apple’s actions in a negative light, Jobs and company still have to listen to its customers.


“Here’s the thing, though: Apple’s customers don’t watch Flash,” he wrote. “The hundreds of comments on the Adobe post are overwhelmingly from people who are dissatisfied with the way Flash performs on their Macs, and are worried that it would put the same strain on their new iPads.”


Hathaway added that the many users find Flash games unplayable on a touch screen and “nobody wanted to see Flash ads” either.


Technologizer blogger Harry McCracken said that while the HTML5 principle seems like a better option and will probably come out the winner in the end, the standard is still a long way from being ready for primetime.


“So far, it’s an unratified, still-evolving would-be Web standard, not a done deal: Safari and Chrome support one video codec, Firefox supports another, and the still-dominant Internet Explorer doesn’t do HTML5 video at all yet,” he wrote.


To sum up the situation, Gizmodo blogger Adam Frucci wrote that neither side is entirely right or entirely wrong.


“On the one hand, Flash is a relatively insecure and resource-heavy plugin that would invariably cause some problems if used on the iPad. In a year or so, HTML5 will be replacing it for most of its biggest uses, such as streaming video,” he wrote.


“However, it isn’t a year from now, and Flash is still heavily used all around the web. It’s just a fact of life that if you want a full internet experience right now, you need to have Flash.”


Frucci said that he doesn’t expect Apple will cave on Flash support, and as HTML5 gets rolled out over the next year, Jobs and company will have fewer and fewer reasons to even consider changing its stance.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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