Adobe VS Apple: with the arrival of the Ipad the Flash player problem becomes serious

With the single presence of the Iphone, the “war” between Adobe and Apple regarding the Flash player was mostly political, and however directed at the sector of games/apps development. The current situation envisages the developing of an ad hoc version for all web realities (classic websites, portals, social media, blogs and more) for IPhone or mobile applications in general. In fact, even though all mobile browsers perfectly display websites, clients and developers alike prefer creating a new version which is adapted to mobile navigation taking into consideration obvious reasons, which are for example reduced display and an extremely different usability of the device from a normal PC.

From the point of view of a developer andone’s client, creating  an ad hoc version of one’s own online presence (optimized for mobile devices) means having to choose of creating the new version by excluding all parts making use of the Flash player on the “original” website, allowing for a correct and complete display on IPhone, too.  In other words the problem is by-passed in the development phase and the choice is always that of developing a mobile version without the Flash player. This choice is obligatory because over 50% of the traffic generated through mobile devices comes exactly from the Iphone.

The diffusion of the Ipad

With the arrival and the diffusion of the Ipad the problem becomes more serious with regard to the current online presence of “classic websites”. The matter is not trivial and web developers are already in a flutter.

According to me the Ipad will aim at the entire segment that is currently covered by netbook offers. The “typical” client who purchases a netbook wants to address one’s need to connect to the web for activities such as: the reading of the mail (both via client or webmail), access to social medias, access to the web in general (youtube, online newspapers, etc) and maybe even updating one’s own blog.

The netbook user accedes and views the websites in “normal” mode and not a mobile one. Once the browser is launched, the pages that are presented are the original versions without any adaptations or ad hoc versions. Obviously, all this is possible because the monitors of netbooks start from 9 inches and up (maybe even 7 or 8 in the first models).

What’s it supposed to mean in relation to the Ipad?

The Ipad has a screen of 9,7 inches (as it’s the case with most modern netbooks) thus the user will open Safari (the default browser installed) and, by typing a random url, will be directed to the classic web page which will contain all the elements of a modern web page including flash videos (youtube for example). Users won’t find themselves in front of a page redesigned for the IPad because the hardware allows for, like on netbooks, a normal display of the pages, and therefore without the possibility of enjoying Flash contents.

What happens then?

If the Ipad will have a massive market penetration ( as Apple estimates) there will be huge problems for all the websites (be they big or small) which largely use the flash player. Obviously developers can direct visits from Ipad towards the mobile version or Iphone (if any), but I don’t think it’s the right choice for the users.

From the business perspective, many realities do not need a mobile version, and often that’s achieved with really simple content such as contacts and business profile. The Ipad discourse instead affects classic websites, that is 100% of the online presence of businesses and other commercial activities.

As an expert user, but also as a developer, I predict great embarrassment and even an uncertain future. Provided that Apple decides to continue in this direction, users will find themselves owning a device that is not a mobile device, but which otherwise has big limitations in the normal display of web pages.

Those who own an Ipad don’t want to be “mobile” users and screen dimensions justify such expectations. Besides the Ipad does not substitute an Iphone or  a smartphone in general, because it lacks the phone module (for the time being at least).

I wonder if this could justify the non diffusion of the device.

But given the tendencies recently shown by the Iphone as well, there’s the possibility that developers start suggesting to their clients the abandoning of the Flash player, especially for simple “presentations” such as galleries, dynamic menus etc.

Js libraries (such as jQuery) are already mature and powerful enough to perfectly substitute Flash, exactly for such purposes. Currently there are plenty of online services and websites which use pretty well js coupled with ajax and which absolutely lack nothing compared to websites entirely designed in Flash. As for the videos instead all this discourse could give a major push to the massive passage of HTML 5 and CSS3 (even though W3C for now discourages the use in production stage).

There are then fine projects such as “Smokescreen” which perfectly display Flash videos without the player. It’s obvious that the sale of Adobe softwares depends solely upon the spread of the player, if it would be drastically “by-passed” by solutions like these, I wonder what would happen to Adobe and to Flash developers.

Obviously, the best and painless solution, would be that of having Apple install the player freely (as rumors are spreading in recent weeks), but I have my own doubts on this as well.

What do you think?


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The Author

Alexander is a web professional for over 8 years and lives and works in Rome. Has several knowledge in web design and web development. It ranges from pure creativity to development of templates and graphic design conforms to the W3C standards.

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