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Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

The universal language: Adobe, Apple, and the Flash/HTML5 battle

This week, I learned that Adobe Systems Inc. will stop developing Flash player for mobile Internet browsers. (Read the article on Reuters here.) Apple Inc. (and especially late founder Steve Jobs) had been trying to get Adobe to switch to HTML5, saying Flash-developed web pages were too slow for iPhone and iPad use.

 Adobe finally caved, incorporating HTML5 into Illustrator and DreamWeaver. Although, it’s important to note, Adobe had already been investing in HTML5 for over a year for digital editions of magazines for Condé Nast. Also, Flash isn’t gone for good—yet—as it will still be available on mobile devices that use Adobe AIR technology.

So does this really matter? It might seem like a small point, as it deals with such a specific area of technology, specifically, mobile Web browsing. But with the proliferation of smart phones and new tablets galore, perhaps Adobe surrendering to Apple on mobile Web browsing isn’t such an insignificant issue as I might have thought.

I wonder what Google’s reaction is to all this. Sure, the article says that Google worked closely with Adobe in developing their HTML5 software. But it also mentions that Google, among other companies, touted Adobe/Flash compatibility as a reason to buy its products over Apple’s. Are they supportive of this move? Was Flash compatibility really that much of a selling point—for instance, was it something that made Android better than iOS? Or is it kind of moot after all?

Mostly, it’s interesting that, yet again, Apple seems to be leading the way in defining the “industry standard.” (This is always sort of ironic, since for so long Apple software was such a closed universe; Apple software wouldn’t talk to Windows, and vice versa.) As more people get their Internet on the go, more people have mobile browsers; on phones, on tablets, and even on their dedicated ereaders. We, the bloggers of Appazoogle, talk a lot about universal formatting and industry standards, but mostly in conjunction with Amazon’s exclusive ebook formatting for Kindle. If Apple was able to make Adobe cave to its preferred format for web browsing, is it too much of a stretch to imagine that universal ebook formatting language could be far behind? Will Apple start putting more pressure on Amazon to make books bought through the Kindle store readable without the Kindle app? Or is the competition better for businesses overall?

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This entry was posted on November 12, 2011 by in Business, News, Technology and tagged , , , , .

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