The way Steve Jobs has been talking lately, you'd think that Flash was Steve Urkel -- some 90's has-been that was entertaining while it lasted but is no longer relevant. Well, I for one don't believe the hype. Contrary to Jobs, Flash is alive and well all over the Internet and remains the choice of millions of game and web developers.
Jobs' months long public feud with Adobe reached new heights last week when he posted an open letter explaining Apple's continued blocking of Flash on its iPad, iPod and iPhone products. And while many of his arguments may sound logical, they're also extremely hypocritical.
According to Jobs, "Adobe's Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc." Sure, but isn't that the same way Apple's iTunes works?
He then goes on to say "Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open." OK, so where does Quicktime, Apple's plugin for video viewing, fit in then? Per Apple.com, "more than 25,000 Web sites refer customers to the QuickTime download every day. Every one from auto sites, musicians, the BBC, and the best movie trailer site on the Web uses QuickTime and increases its distribution." Sounds like a product positioning itself as a "web standard" to me.
The fact is that while Apple remains the golden child of next gen hardware development, they are not the only option -- or even the most popular one. In fact Apple's mobile OS still trails Blackberry's RIM, with Android gaining market share daily. And Android's latest OS (2.2) will support Flash, which means that all Android-powered tablets (which are likely to hit the market in the next few months) will allow users to view Flash-based websites, play hundreds of thousands of games and view Flash video without seeing that annoying blue Lego.
Apple may currently be winning the battle, but if they continue to shut out ubiquitous technologies, closed or not, they may lose the war.
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