Marketers Respond to the Apple v. Flash Battle



In the past few weeks the back and forth between Apple and Adobe about the merits and demerits of Flash technology use has gone from bad to worse. Bitter rhetoric and open letters to about each other played out like a high school romance gone bad. Needless to say you would hope that grown-ups might act, well, more grown up but this is the Internet era after all and sometimes it’s what you say over how you say it that wins the day.

Evidence of how Steve Jobs’ tirade against the evils of Flash and Apple’s adoption of HTML5 as the future of all things Apple might have worked is becoming apparent. Who says throwing a public hissy fit can’t help business?

The Wall Street Journal explains just what impact is starting to be seen in the market and it’s not great news for Adobe.

The punches that Apple Inc. is throwing in its fight against Adobe Systems Inc. are beginning to land, prompting some companies to shift away from Adobe’s video and animation technology and forcing Web designers to work with competing standards.

Programmers and Web designers say clients increasingly are asking that their websites or applications be compatible with Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Those sites can’t be built with Adobe’s Flash technology, which is used widely for online video and animation but which Apple has banned from its devices.

“Since the iPad came out we’ve had a lot of clients say that they just don’t want Flash on their sites,” said Chantelle Simoes, vice president at Ninth Degree Inc., a design firm in Dana Point, Calif., which has built websites for Sanyo and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. If current trends continue, Ms. Simoes said, her 10-person firm will need to hire people familiar with Apple’s development tools.

So, if you are Jobs and Apple you gotta feel like this battle is moving in the right direction. If you are Adobe and the Flash community there may be some hand-wringing going on as this plays out over time.

Does this sound like an over reaction to the early market response to the ‘Flash War”? For some maybe but when you have major players like Sports Illustrated adjusting their strategies to fit Apple’s view of the world you have to take notice.

On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated, whose website uses Flash extensively, unveiled a Web app built with HTML 5. “We’re going forward on more than one front,” said Terry McDonnell, editor of Sports Illustrated Group, a unit of Time Warner Inc. “The last thing that we want to do is make some decision that we’re not sure about.”

While that means having to maintain multiple versions of its properties, Mr. McDonnell said it doesn’t make sense to settle on one technology because Sports Illustrated needs to be able to reach readers no matter what device they use.

This kind of market reaction to embrace a relatively new and under developed ‘standard’ like HTML5 speaks volumes about who has clout in the market place.

Waiting in the wings is Google who is promising to cover all bases with Android devices. If that truly takes place then the gloves are off and confusion will be the order of the day. Developers and designers will be forced to put together two versions of everything they do so they can do just as SI did to ensure they reached everyone and not just one platform’s users.

Where this goes is anyone’s guess but due to the overwhelming adoption of the iPhone and now the iPad one has to think that HTML5 is going to ‘grow up’ real quickly right before our eyes. Flash, on the other hand, will be fighting to secure its future in the online world.

Who’s operating from the position of power here? You tell us.

  • dmitri smyslov

    I follow tech but I think I missed the public hissy fit you speak of. A link would be most helpful.

  • PXLated

    Designers don’t have to develop two like SI – A non Flash site will run just fine on Android even if it does have Flash.
    Flash success was built around ubiquity. You could sell a Flash site to a CEO because it would run on 95% of computers. Without the Apple iProducts, there is no ubiquity and you can’t guarantee a site viewable by most. The minute you do a Flash site and the CEO buys an iProduct you just lost your web dev gig because you recommended Flash.
    Flash has lost, is dead, no matter if they get it running efficiently on Android.

  • AdamC

    The war is still going on and the tech pundits (aka Apple haters) are on goog side but then the competition created by the involved parties will mean one thing better products for us lucky consumers.