Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Web 2.0 and the Apple/Adobe Slugfest

By Joanna Kulesa
HTML5 is the new "low-hanging fruit," or maybe it's the new "locked and loaded". God I hate valley speak.  In any case, you'll be hearing a lot about HTML5 in the coming months. It even plays a role in the Great Apple/Adobe Divorce. 

Steve Jobs got the ball rolling last month by blasting Adobe for being "lazy" with their Flash technology, saying that apps written for the iPhone and iPad using Flash tools don't work properly on Apple hardware. He's banned Flash technology on Apple's mobile devices, pointing to it as a security risk and resource hog. Apparently some ex-Adobe engineers agree with him. Jobs feels that open web standards, such as HTML5, are the way of the future.

Adobe's CTO, Kevin Lynch, spoke last week at the Web 2.0 Expo I attended, and likened Apple's policy to the development of railroads in the 1800's. Back then companies were using different gauge rails for various sections of a route, making it necessary to unload cargo to a different train when you came to a section your train couldn't run on. That analogy, in my opinion, is unfortunate at best. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has gone to a web site only to be notified that I need to stop what I'm doing and install the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player. That experience sort of feels like...um...unloading a train.

The bottom line is that Apple has its proprietary OS and hardware, while Adobe has its proprietary web software. To some extent, they are both calling the kettle black. But as long as Apple can keep turning out shiny gadgets that everyone "must" have, they're safe. Adobe is not in as solid a position; open-standard Web technologies such as HTML5 will almost certainly replace Flash someday.

Of course, Flash isn't going away anytime soon; it's too entrenched. Adobe released a new version of the Flash development app last month and is developing its next Flash Player. Get ready to unload more trains. Now, I'm off to pick up my shiniest new gadget, an iPad with 3G.
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