In the past year or so, Adobe, who has been dominating RIA (rich internet applications) since the mid 1990’s, has suddenly found itself in a war with two fronts. While pleading with Apple to allow Flash to run on the iPhone since its introduction in June of 2007, Google comes to the rescue with the Nexus One, which will be the first smart phone to support Flash. Ironically though, Google’s HTML5 might be the end of Flash as we know it. Will Apple ever allow Flash to run on the iPhone, and now the iPad? Will Google be the new king of RIA (both desktop and mobile) in the near future? What’s going to happen to Adobe Flash?
Will Apple ever allow Flash to run on the iPhone, and now the iPad?
Don’t let Steve Jobs fool you. According to wired.com, Steve Jobs stated that “Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy.” Although it is true that Flash can be a little buggy sometimes, the reality is that Apple would never want to support Flash unless it was forced to. Why you ask? If the iPhone supported Flash, 3rd party companies could create their own “iTunes” stores that sold Flash applications which would create a huge dent in Apple’s app store revenue stream. As long as they don’t support Flash, Apple has a monopoly over every application sold for the iPhone. And naturally, Apple won’t admit to this because it would basically be like saying “yes, we are a large corporation that ultimately values profit over user experience”.
Google to the rescue?
Obviously, Adobe would like Flash to run in mobile devices because it creates more opportunities for developers to create Flash applications, and therefore add to Adobe’s revenue stream. Although Apple is refusing to support Flash, Google is saving the day by supporting Flash 10.1 on the Nexus One phone, Google’s new smart phone. This is huge, because if the Nexus One takes a large portion of the smart phone market (which it will), and it supports Flash 10.1, Apple will be forced to support Flash in order to compete with the Nexus One. When this happens, I’m sure that Steve Jobs will conveniently comment “Now that Flash 10.1 is very much improved, we now feel that it is appropriate to support Flash with all of our Apple products.”
Adobe’s ally will soon become its ultimate enemy
Once the Nexus One has firmly taken a significant portion of the smart phone market and Apple begins to support Flash, this is about the same time that Google’s HTML5 will begin to rise. This is really bad news for Adobe, because HTML5 is basically HTML with Flash capabilities built right into the new HTML tags, including a new video tag. Although a lot of people will tell you that HTML5 will completely eliminate the need for Flash, I think that the two technologies will coexist competitively much like Java and C# coexist today.
Good luck Adobe, you have a long road ahead of you!