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The lack of support for Flash-format media on Apple’s iPad has caused a fresh round of debate about the technology’s value, including a bunch of posts from Flash owner Adobe. The latest is a post from Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch laying out his case for Flash’s relevance.
Lynch begins by taking a couple of small jabs at Apple, first by referring to the iPad (presumably sarcastically) as a “magical device,” then by saying Adobe is ready to enable Flash in the iPhone’s browser, “but to date we have not had the required cooperation from Apple to make this happen.”
Adobe’s complaints about Apple aren’t new, so the second half of the post is a little more interesting. Lynch responds directly to suggestions that Flash will become obsolete as many of its capabilities (such as support for web video) are included in HTML5, the latest version of the web’s basic markup language:
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% 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 blend of Flash and HTML are best together, enabling anyone to make pragmatic decisions to use these for their strengths to make the best experiences on the Web.
Beyond the specifics of Lynch’s argument, I think the fact that Adobe’s CTO wrote a post defending Flash is noteworthy. It certainly supports the general feeling that Flash has come under fire over the last few days, and specifically the concern that the combination of the iPad’s and the iPhone’s lack of Flash support could be a serious blow to the format’s significance. For example, blogger/Rackspace employee Robert Scoble wrote a post this weekend titled, “Can Flash be saved?”
Meanwhile, Ajaxian founder Dion Almaer took a less fatalistic view of Flash’s future: Apple won’t kill Flash, but will hopefully “help the HTML 5 video cause.” In other words, even if Apple is successful in its campaign against Flash, that doesn’t mean we will see a Flash-free web in the future, just one where HTML5 supplants many of Flash’s current capabilities, and Flash is relegated to a few specific uses. And I assume those uses still won’t be supported on the iPhone.
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