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Flash vs apple iPhone, iPad – how does it affect us?

June 10th, 2010 by Edward

Like many people i have been following the recent “Developments” regarding Adobe Flash and Apple mobile platforms with considerable interest. Whilst the average user might say, “I don´t know what flash is” (as one friend of mine recently did) as sure as “Eggs is eggs” they will have used the Flash Player. Many times.

So what´s the issue?
For a long time web designers and developers have added flash elements into their sites – its great for interactivity. Videos, animations, sounds, movement, games – to name just a few of the huge range of uses. The Flash Player is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous add-ons to web browsers, I read recently that 90% of the world´s browsers have it installed.

Apple´s decision not to allow the Flash Player on the iPad (or on the iPhone either) has, in effect, censored great chunks of web content from its customers. Now anyone who uses the iPhone or the iPad has effectivly had a whole pile of web content hidden from them. If you visit a web site that has flash in it, and the site´s owners haven´t “Made provision” then those flash parts are just not there. That affects countless millions of websites.

So, why have Apple made this decision???
Apple have all sorts of fairly technical reasons for this, and at first glance they make a lot of sense too. Adobe, the makers of flash, have hit back, with a whole load of good points as well, and a pile of great adverts!

Some commentators say that its all about maintaining a grip on the “Apps Market”, others that its an attempt to control web content. There are as many opinions as there are developers. So we´re caught in a battle, and its going to be very interesting to web professionals (and to end users…) to see how things develop.

Is this the beginning of the end of Flash?

How does it affect our customers?
Good question, and as ever there is more than one solution. Think about your audience first – when trying to decide on what technologies you want to employ, ask to what extent you need to support the growing iPad / iPhone market. When you have made that decision we can then help you begin to think about what technology is best suited to what you want to acheive, and to your audience. We could look to produce similar affects using different technology. Another way is for us to develop a flash / non-flash solution. Perhaps leaving flash out completely is the best answer. And remember too that any part of the site without flash will display just fine. But also bear in mind that many of the advanced features of the other technologies that Apple talk about have very sketchy support across the web, and its likely to remain that way for a long time yet.

And the future…
Who knows? And I am not going to make a prediction! But it is really interesting to wonder if we are entering a new era for the browsers. But consider this. PCs with mice, browsers with flash, html4, css2 and so on are SO ingrained in our global web experience that any real change is surely going to take ages to filter through. At what point do we say a something is redundent – just because Apple says so??? When only 5% of users still use it? Will the lack of flash eventually make any indent in the sales of iDevices??

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Edward owns and runs ee-web design and has been building websites for over 12 years. He is passionate about... most things really

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  1. Perhaps the biggest issue anyway is about Flash Video. My latest client has said that they aren’t really bothered about iDevices so just to use flash.

    But the best option is for us to build video into sites such that browsers that support it use flash, and those that don’t use HTML5.

    I expect my customers to go down that route.

    Comment by Edward — July 6, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

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