One of the biggest reasons I’ve owned an iPhone for a few years now is how it handles the web. An amazing web browser on my phone means that I can do a lot of important work from wherever I happen to be sitting â€” laptop or not. And for business purposes, the iPhone does this perfectly.
There’s just one thing: No Flash. That means that all-Flash web sites simply don’t work at all, and it means that Flash-based video on the web doesn’t work outside of Youtube.
It’s annoying that the iPhone misses this one part of the web experience, but maybe in the end it’s a good thing.
There’s a lot of noise on the Net about Flash, and in particular how even the newly introduced iPad doesn’t support it. People speak of Flash as though it were a fundamental right of the Netizen. It isn’t: it’s a proprietary technology owned by one company, Adobe. And as much as I support a company’s right to make money off it’s own work and innovation, I also think that the fundamental technologies of the web must remain open. Wouldn’t it be deliciously ironic if a notoriously closed, proprietary system like Apple’s iPhone/iPod/iPad line could finally free us from Flash?
It could happen. With HTML 5.0 supporting an open web video standard, all Apple has to do is drag its feet a little longer with the whole Flash thing and it could be the end. As soon as Apple’s mobile Safari supports HTML 5 video on the iPhone, iPad, ad infinitum, web sites will globally start supporting it, too. And that could all but kill Flash. Not overnight. But within the time of a few minor browser releases we could see Flash being replaced across the web.
But do I really hate Flash so much? No. In fact, as a technology, when used correctly (eg. for video game-style interactivity, and not as a replacement for a web site), FlashÂ makes a major contribution to the web experience. So really, what I’m asking for isn’t the complete death of Flash, but an end to our universal reliance on a single company’s web technology. There are two outcomes we should hope for: