Fear and loathing in iPad support

By Hawkeye Staff

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For the iPhone’s three generations, a common complaint among techies is the lack of support for Adobe Flash video, the most widely used video playback technology on the Web. Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated that the issue was Flash’s poor performance— badly written ActionScript code can, in fact, suck up resources faster than a tornado. Other techies suspect the reason had to be about maintaining control over video to favor Apple’s paid iTunes offerings.
The iTunes conspiracy theory seems unlikely, given Apple’s recent approval of a Slingbox iPhone app and a Netflix iPad app. With the recent launch of the iPad, it’s clear that Apple’s goal is to do more than ignore Flash. Apple wants to kill Flash and other RIAs. Its weapon of choice: the still-evolving HTML5 browser.
Apple has begun promoting Websites that use some of the more backed parts of HTML5’s standard, including the tag for video playback. Apple’s iPad website features Safari, a mobile Web browser that supports the latest Web standards— including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. The message is clear: Flash can be dumped for the HTML5 video tag.
Because media sites are so desperate to find new ways to make money, the iPad will become the driving factor in Web access. They see the iPad as a way to change the expectations that content must be free, especially now that they know that advertising won’t pay for it either. Thus, they’ll support the iPad’s creator and driver: Apple.
Media sites’ influence over Web developers, videographers, and the like will push HTML5 into the sites that  most people visit, and that will create the expectation that the HTML5/CSS3 approach is better than using proprietary formats such as Flash.
Anything “proprietary” means there’s a dollar cost, while the “open standards” line Apple is, usually means there is less cost and that will also push the eventual abandonment of Adobe Flash.
Flash, Silverlight, and WebFX will continue to have a place for delivering interactive capabilities, but Apple won’t support them. Apple wants developers to use the Web for lightweight content and capabilities and its iPhone for heavier-weight content and capabilities.
For Apple to win this battle against Flash, They’ll need Microsoft on their side. Microsoft is basing its upcoming Window Phone 7 with Silverlight as its main app provider. Its tied Silverlight to .Net to gain instant momentum. If Windows Phone 7 takes off, Silverlight might get some real traction.
.Net is used largely for app develoment, not for Web development, and certainly not for content development. Adobe has been the major force in content oriented development technology, and as Apple weakens Adobe’s role on the mobile side, content-oriented developers are no more likely to turn to .Net and Silverlight than they are to Java and JavaFX. They’ll turn to HTML5 and/or to Xcode, as well as the equivalent of Xcode for the Google Android platform.
None of this will happen overnight, but Apple has clearly declared war on Flash video and by proxy on today’s RIAs.

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