APPLE, ADOBE FLASH, HTML5 and MICROSOFT SILVERLIGHT
- The Battle for Supremacy
Apple has developed its core products, the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad, to not include Adobe's Flash program. The reasons Apple provided were always ambiguous until Steve Jobs, King of Apple, published an open letter entitled 'Thoughts on Flash'. Of the many reasons Jobs gave for not including Flash the most prominent and convincing was that Flash is ''100% proprietary''. While obviously true it is hardly a complete justification in itself. Flash is such a popular option and so successful in its own relative context precisely because it is ''100 proprietary''.
With Apple being so dominant in the Mobile Internet Device market it is no wonder that Adobe feels like it is being restricted entry to a lucrative market simply because Apple has decided to not use its Flash platform. This might be 'fair' business practise, although even that claim is a little dubious, but it is in no way ethically correct. Apple has a duty, many believe, to not prevent the development of something that many of its customers want integrated into their goods. Apple might be within their rights to not use Flash but ignoring what customers want is not a business move that often works. In the long term this could turn out to be the cloud that brings the rain. Such big empires tend not to crumble quickly and history has shown it has often only required one idea, opinion or decision to start the process. Is this the beginning of the end of the dominance of Apple?
We never know but probably not. Every corporation of this stature has had to make decisions which its customers have not liked. The key is making the decisions, and then the customers, pay. So long as Apple are increasing profits and have a net income of over US$3 billion the decision to ignore Flash is the right one. The onus is on Adobe finding a reason for Apple to regret not including Flash, something which they have so far failed to do. Adobe could perhaps 'open up' the usage of Flash and thus deprive Jobs of his main reason for not using it.
Were Flash no longer ''100% proprietary'' would Apple then include it?
This is a policy that Apple does not believe Adobe will take. If they were too Apple might then be forced into an embarrassing back down. Especially if the HTML5 platform they are gambling on does not prove as successful. If the iPad proves popular, all the signs are that it will be, then it will be another nail in the coffin for Flash.
Microsoft Silverlight, vaunted by some, is popular and has decent usage numbers but is not yet equal to Flash. Simply put, Apple choosing to not use Silverlight on its core products is obvious and understandable, for more than just the reason offered. With Silverlight struggling to compete with Flash and concomitantly Flash struggling to appease Apple, should the universe continue to be designed by Apple, HTML5 might just turn out to be the standard option very soon. What is clear is that things cannot stay the way that they are now. Either Adobe or Apple will change their policy to suit the other or one of them will live to regret not doing so.