There’s a war going on between Apple and Adobe; a clash of Technological Titans™. Let me call it the Flash Wars of the 21st century. Flash is Adobe’s proprietary but ubiquitous vector-based animation, interactive, and video technology. Why does Apple seem to hate Flash? Why is Apple trying to kill Flash? Why won’t Apple succeed?
Problems With Flash
For all the ubiquity of Flash on the world’s PCs (some estimate Flash on 98-percent of all computers), the technology has problems, detractors, and enemies. On Macs, Flash is a performance hog and the single greatest cause for Safari crashes.
Clearly, Apple—with growing support from many standards-minded members of the web community—would like to see Flash die. Apple, ever the tech industry’s premiere control freak, is leading the charge. Just Say No To Flash™.
When Tech Titans Clash
Apple, Google, Microsoft, and many others who help to shape our internet usage would like to see Flash disemboweled in some kind of ceremonial cleansing of the old, making way for the new standards-based Web 2.0 (whatever that is).
Flash is deeply ingrained as the de facto standard of animated ads, video streaming, and to a far lesser degree, as an attractive, somewhat unique;y creative interface for sites and apps.
Microsoft’s Silverlight is a Flash wannabe; a similar technology because, well, you know, Microsoft needs to control everything it touches. Google is moving from Flash video to H.264 video and HTML 5 to deliver video content on YouTube. Why? Well, you know. Google wants to control everything it touches.
Apple wants to see mature, capable, free, and non-proprietary standards for its devices. All these tech titans are clashing and bashing each other for control, rather than commerce (except for Adobe, though I doubt there’s that much money in Flash development tools).
No Early Death, No Dice
There’s a problem with the announcement that Flash is dying. It’s more of a dynamic than a death. Even if I’m wrong, when will death occur? 10 years? 20 years? Should we dub this the Flash 30-year War?
De facto standards just don’t go away because we wish them to go away. Look at Windows. Intense competition and millions of disgruntled customers have forced Microsoft to improve Internet Explorer (in the face of a growing Firefox threat) and Windows (as customers defected by the millions).
Like it or don’t, Microsoft and Windows will be around for many years to come. As will Adobe’s Flash. It’s there. It’s embedded. It’s used. But it’s anything but dead. And it won’t die soon.
On the other hand, Flash won’t live at all on many of the early 21st century mobile devices. It’s a poor performer and a poor interface on handheld devices (all smart phones). As web standards take root on a new breed of mobile devices, Flash is likely to be left in the dust, an artifact from the turn of the century.
Is death inevitable? Probably not. In a last ditch effort to maintain relevance, Adobe may make Flash open source, freeing the technology to roam over the internet plains for future generations, living comfortably alongside new web standards.
For now, it’s a war with many battles. For now, Flash isn’t doing so well. Despite the cries that Flash Is Dying! (aren’t we all) it won’t be dead and buried during the lifetime of any computing device we now own.