Adobe vs. Apple…we have a winner!

March 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

“What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.”

-The Captain, Cool Hand Luke

In one corner, you have a well known company, famous for making desktop and server software, web design programs, video editing software and one of the most widely known and used formatting programs in the world. In the other corner, you have an even more widely known company who has gone from being an upstart to falling on tough times, only to see themselves rise like Phoenix from the ashes to become one of the hottest brands on the planet, known for innovation and inspiration and a cult-like following for their products.

The first company is Adobe Systems, with products and services like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Illustrator and the creators of the Portable Document Format or PDF. The second company is Apple, with iPods, iPads, iPhones and a host of other products and software that have spawned countless imitators, created legions of fans and inspired equal parts of fanatics and detractors around our industry.

For years, these two companies have battled over many items, but there has been one major point of contention between the two–the use of Adobe Flash on Apple products. As my cohort Scott Spaid has mentioned in this blog before, the battle between Adobe and Apple regarding Flash has been a battle that has gone on for years, with these two former “friends” digging their own lines in the sand that has meant that the millions of Apple users have not been able to view Flash on their mobile devices. This fight between Adobe and Apple was expected to end at some time, but many of us in the industry weren’t really sure who would be the first to cave.

Well, we seem to have our answer now…and the answer is Adobe. Recently, Adobe announced that they have released “Wallaby”, an experimental new drag-and-drop tool for developers that converts Flash files into HTML5. HTML5 is designed to work easily with web browsers on mobile devices (like, say the iPhone and iPad) and allows web developers to build mobile friendly web pages that offer a great deal more interactivity and multimedia capabilities than pages that are Flash-based.

As the New York Times reported in January, a number of content services, including Flickr and Vimeo, are experimenting with HTML5 to deliver video and other interactive media…especially because HTML5 works with Apple products where Flash based video and interactive media doesn’t.

So, what does it mean for end users? It may be too early to tell what may happen, but the move to HTML5 by many developers could ring the death knell for Flash. Gartner research is predicting that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide by 2013. As more activity on the Web moves to mobile, the need for a “non-mobile” friendly delivery system for video and other interactive content (i.e. Flash) will not be as important as having a delivery system (HTML5) that is designed for the mobile web.

Do we think it is time for us to pour out a 40 for Flash? Not quite yet, but being able to take advantage of the capabilities that HTML5 has for developers is going to be a key strategy for everyone in web development, including those of us at In10sity, now that Adobe and Flash have capitulated to what Apple and others have been asking for years. Thanks for the good times, Flash. Its been good to know you.

For an absolutely brilliant take on the history of Adobe vs. Apple, I highly recommend reading this blog entry about the history of Adobe vs. Apple…from a Biblical perspective.

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