Although I’ve been in pretty deep finishing the book Flex 4 in Action, some recent conversations along with Apple’s iPad announcement this morning inspired me to blog about my take on the current state of the web as I’ve been following market trends in media consumption for a little while now.
HTML 5 vs. Flash
For some odd reason, I’m seeing more and more people putting the new HTML 5 spec up against Flash, largely due to the lack of support from Apple with regard to the iPhone, iPod touch, and now the iPad. As a side note, I love Apple, but did the marketing dept decide to take the year off and leave Jobs in charge of branding? WTF is an iPad? It sounds like a feminine hygiene product. Anyway, I digress.
First, its tough to compare HTML 5 to Flash. To me, one might as well try and argue that eggs taste better in the morning than spaghetti does in the evening… Eggs in the morning makes sense, right? It’s a good breakfast food. Similarly, who doesn’t like a good bowl of spaghetti once in a while for dinner? Seems to make sense… spaghetti = dinner food, as eggs = breakfast food.
To take a more pragmatic approach, this reminds me of Web Designer Magazine’s infamous “AJAX vs. FLASH” issue late in 2009. After furiously trying to find a way to pin the two technologies up against each other in a head-to-head, winner-takes-all, fight to the death; the author ultimately gave up and concluded that each technology had it’s own unique and specific purpose that filled a particular void that the other did not. They same could be said for why we have so many different programming languages and frameworks…I mean, have you seen the number of frameworks for Java alone? I’m not sure how Java devs are able to keep from going mad! And yet, every one of those frameworks has a very specific role and purpose.
Adobe Flash Platform vs. Apple Mobile Devices
The Flash Platform is the undisputed champion in RIA and is continuously running circles around the contenders, the most notable being Silverlight – which has been weak considering the number of .NET shops that have chosen Flex for their client side RIA development. Even more interestingly, the data provided by major research firms suggest that the iPhone will soon lose its dominance to Google’s Android platform, and has been reiterated by a number of different research companies now. WHAT?! ….its true, and the reason is that the public is generally dissatisfied with the full-nelson choke hold that Apple puts on its technologies. Apple lost massive market share last year in Music sales from the iTunes store – primarily to Amazon – because Apple wanted to keep the DRM choke hold on their tunes and Amazon had something else in mind. Even when Apple finally submitted to the pressure and let go of DRM, so many people (myself included) already had a bad taste in their mouth and didn’t really care to go back, and the rest are STILL unaware of the fact that Apple’s tunes are even DRM-free!
The research suggests that we can expect something similar to happen with the iPhone. A massive (and growing) number of powerful and innovative technologies are under development, all on the Flash Platform and all for different media consumption platforms (eg. cable boxes, mobile, computers, etc.) because we have the ability to seamlessly hook a variety of platform-specific client interfaces to the same network data source, which could be providing its data in near-”real time”. Google’s more “open” philosophy will eventually dominate (that is, assuming they can get a better handle on user experience), since developers ultimately decide what stays and what goes, and well, I work with 103 superstar Flex-developing iPhone owners whose patience with Apple’s un-kept promises to support Flash on the iPhone has run very thin.
Where do we go from here?
As far as HTML 5 having any impact whatsoever on the web (let alone on the Flash Platform) in the next two years… all I have to say is – don’t hold your breath. The market is actually in an unusually predictable state right now given the gradual and consistent advancements in technology, the philosophies of company leaders, and what we can derive from the trends of the last decade.
Anyway, that’s my take on things for what it’s worth.