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How will HTML 5, Google, and the iPad play out in Apple vs. Flash?

Some see Apple's iPad as the latest ploy in a battle to bury Adobe Flash once and for all. Are they betting on HTML5, and what do the other major players stand to win and lose in the fight over Web standards? Take the poll.

In a post from yesterday, PCWorld's Galen Gruman declares that the "iPad Proves That Apple Wants to Kill Flash," and quite possibly Silverlight and other Internet apps while they're at it:

With the recent launch of the iPad, it's clear that Apple's goal is to do more than ignore Flash. Apple wants to kill Flash and the other RIAs. Its weapon of choice: the still-evolving HTML5 browser standard.

The HTML5 standard has its critics, particularly here at TechRepublic, but it does seem to be emerging into one of the main weapons in the Apple vs. Flash battle. So even while rival Google is cozying up to Flash with the news that the player will be better integrated into the Chrome Browser, Google is also using the HTML 5 standard to defy Apple's dumping of its Google Voice-related apps from their store, as Michael Kassner pointed out recently.

And as BNET blogger Erik Sherman, writes about HTML5:

It promises to do everything that Flash does, from delivering video and enabling slick user interfaces to providing a platform to develop small downloadable applications, without the need to download and install a browser plug-in. But exactly how HTML 5 works, and how well sites adopt it, is a contentious issue.

Sherman provides more great insight into all the major players involved in this Web standard fight in his post, "HTML 5: Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe Fight to Rule the Web."

Other than making our brains hurt, what are we to get out of all this maneuvering? Take the poll below and add your comments to the discussion.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

25 comments
dev
dev

My wife is a teacher and can't stand sitting at a desk to do some of her necessary paperwork like filling out the grades and comments on students using the school district's online system. I've thought about getting her a laptop so she's not tied to a desk. She likes Macs (uses them at school), but they're twice as expensive as Windows machines and I don't want to learn how to support them. So since we already had a Windows desktop, she's just been using that. But when the iPad was announced and I started reading about it, I thought this was the answer: web browsing on a comfortable, easy-to-use "tablet" and it's not too expensive, either! But when I found out about its refusal to support Flash or Java, it killed the deal. Why does Apple continue to be so snobbish? They're shooting themselves in the foot. It doesn't matter how beautiful or easy-to-use the system is if it doesn't meet people's needs. There are a lot web sites that use Java. What is Apple thinking?

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

Is Galen right about Apple seriously wanting to kill Flash? You better believe it! When Apple previewed its new iPhone 4.0 OS tyoday, they slipped in a change to the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement for 4.0. You can read about it here: http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/iphone_agreement_bans_flash_compiler Yeah, Apple's stacking the bricks around their walled garden awful high ...

thamadgreek
thamadgreek

I see Google being the big one here. It is like Sony to the disc industry. Sony wanted to push blue ray and MS wanted to try to push DVD9. Guess who has fased out and now MS is switching their consoles to Blue Ray because you can not fight the powers to be. This is how Google is working the web and with their power on the market it gives them more pull I believe.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I am probably very dated here but, isn't HTML, a mark up language, which only purpose is to format text? What do you have to do, code animations in javascript now?

dougsyo
dougsyo

Apple may want to kill Flash, but I suspect they have a bigger goal. By limiting what their browser can do, they push people into using apps. Apps (even free ones) create customer lock-in and Apple gets 30% of each sale.

aragoran
aragoran

Check out the new iPad's App, http://www.200linx.com/ It also works on regular PC - Firefox, Explorer and Safari browsers. 200Linx.com will make your surfing experience a whole lot easier..

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Adobe's even beat out IE for the title of most vulnerable entry point. No flash, No Java Runtime Environment; those are benefits rather than limitations in my opinion. They are more often used as crutches for poor app and website development, make the internet a proprietary system instead of open as it should be and mean managing a third party add-on which may or may not get timely security updates. If the management software at your wife's school requires flash or java runtimes, that's a problem that really should be addressed in the software. (sadly, I know how fast schools evolve there information systems so I wouldn't suggest holding one's breath.. too much politics and outdated thinking involved in such places)

dougsyo
dougsyo

I used the term "lock-in" in my earlier post on this topic, and it's clear that's what they're going for. Apple doesn't want to make it easy for developers - or customers - to have an alternative to switch to. In this article: http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=7958 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out that decisions like this are designed to hinder cross-platform development. This keeps both developers and customers faithful to the Apple ecosystem. It was just a couple of months ago that a developer of a cross-platform app submitted an update, and Apple made them remove references to Android compatibility from the Apple marketplace blurb. Doug

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It did basic text layout. Then it included tables. Then it included images. It continues to evolve slowly.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

When I was using Windows daily, my #1 pain was malware. Now that I've switched to using Linux daily, #1 pain is now Flash... So if If Apple wants to kill Flash, I may actually buy one of their products to help them... Go Steve Go!

nwallette
nwallette

It *IS* best for the user. People are lazy. They go for what's pretty, right now, with no regard for the consequence. Take HDMI for instance. When's the last time your cable manufacturer paid license charges for analog VGA or SPDIF cables? Now we're "locked in" to a proprietary technology, with all its associated baggage and fees, just because the consumer got to connect their electronics with a single cable. Keep that convenience in mind when you pay $99 for a 6-ft cable. We win. Yay for us. Websites have taken for granted that users will have Flash installed for way too long. It breeds laziness, and as someone with a custom-compiled Gentoo 64-bit Linux environment, I can tell you, trying to get Flash to work just wasn't worth the trouble. Maybe even MOST sites degrade gracefully. Some just fell apart. There's no excuse for that. Furthermore, on portable devices, the bulkiness and inefficiency of Adobe code would be a real liability to performance and battery life. Apple actually has enough clout to pull this off. They managed to wrestle the music industry into letting them remove DRM from iTunes music downloads (you're welcome). With a major consumer device out there, used frequently for web surfing, that will never support Flash... that gives webdevs something to think about. Maybe next time, they'll give their site design more thought than the consolation prize: "Click 'here' to download Flash". If you still want to whine about how Apple has their own agenda behind this false altruism, hey you're probably absolutely right. But maybe so did Mozilla when they gave us Firefox and finally provided web users a real alternative to half-assed CSS and PNG support. Or Google, when they gave us Chrome and made JavaScript execution time a non-issue. The other browsers (FINALLY) got their stuff together and followed suit. I hear IE9's JavaScript performance is supposed to be much better. Without someone saying "enough is enough", we'd still be using IE6. But that worked well enough, didn't it? After all, it had Active X and VBScript support!

ngoodey
ngoodey

too many of the discussions go on about Apple vs Adobe, and winners and losers, whilst completely missing the point that it is in the user's best interest that an open standard prevails, and I think that Apple tends these days to promote that aspect better than most (unlike their very chequered and 'restrictive' past!)

charles.homsy
charles.homsy

Apple may have put out a few gadgets that have been improvements to other people's ideas, but, what gives them the right to start dictating standards? It's the ipod that's keeping Apple afloat. Hardware sales are down, from what I've been reading. While ipad sales have run out the first production run, it's numbers compared to total pc sales for the same period are easily dismissed as unimportant. The ipad doesn't bring anything new to the table as far as functionality or innovation. So the whining being done by Jobs only sound like the sobs of an also ran who's first to go down the drain.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

They are trading one form of lock-in (flash, java) for another which they can push much harder since it doesn't involve relying on a third party outside of Apple's campus. I aplaud them for discouraging Flash and Java RE but can't agree with the effort they put into removing choice form the end user.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I can't see how else it can animate...

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

a System a OS a browser a Web connection Power What about peole with one of these missing - are they to get their problems solved. You see where I'm going...so you removed one part of the requirements, big deal, there are hundreds more

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Not that I found - yes they are there but I did not buy those ones.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Open or closed, the user doesn't care. If the web sites he visits use Flash, he wants to be able see the video, period.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Never thought of them in that way. Their entirely closed ecosystem for iPhone/iPad is most definately not open. Even the article reference in the post states: Apple is a control freak that wants to lock in all aspects of any industry in which the company plays. Aside from some legitimate performance issues, Apple and CEO Steve Jobs don?t want to be beholding to another company, no matter what the long relationship history between them. Under HTML 5, Apple can push to do things its way, sell the technology (think QuickTime) to encode and run video on web sites, and extend its grasp on downloaded media sales. (http://industry.bnet.com/technology/10006554/html-5-google-microsoft-apple-and-adobe-fight-to-rule-the-web/ )

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If flash can access local hardware and loop a display stream then the browser can also. It may just mean that browsers required that additional ability before they can be considered HTML5 compliant. At that point, it's just a question of what Flash and the browser do differently so that one uses the hardware in a more secure manner than the other.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Which means heavy processor usage. Things like flash are constantly looping and calculating frames, creating an image and having your graphics card display it. Now, I can see scripted animation for vector graphics, but not raster graphics. At least nothing interactive. GIF images basically...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I don't know if it's somehow merging vrml or what. For animation, I'd guess that the browser is making use of 3D hooks since it's rendering the downloaded html code. Now, if the browser using these hardware functions is safer than a third party plugin like Flash; we'll have to see how that shakes out.

Hazydave
Hazydave

Users may see long-term benefits from open standards. But they benefit today from today's standards, de-facto though they may be. Fights over such things between companies usually catch the user up in them, and ensure that user is the one loser, regardless of who ultimately wins. Apple would have far more credibility in this if their push for open standards were genuine, and not just an effort to keep things like Flash games off the iPhone.. thus making more sales. If Google wanted to kill Flash, they wouldn't attack Flash directly, they'd figure out how to get people to choose the open standard. Understand it first. Flash is popular because of the authoring tools.. content people can write programs, no software guy needed. Google would release a free app that's better than Adobe's Flash authoring tools, and yet standards based. Apple wants to kill Flash, but they really don't want standards replacing all of Flash, either. An HTML 5 game, if possible, would be just as threatening as a Flash game to them. So they pretend it's all about viideo, and their customers get stuck with a second class view of the web as it actually is.

Capt_Skippy
Capt_Skippy

I would never think of Apple as being open standard. In fact secretly they've always relished in the fact that they are closed standard. But on to the vote results. I'm shocked that most people think that Apple will win the web standards. Adobe has been around for years and has made a position for themselves in the graphic/web design industry. I just don't see Adobe folding to Apple. It's like Bing trying to compete with Google. Yeah Microsoft will put up a good fight and buy out rights for searches, but in the end google will always be the search engine of choice.