I was killing some time and a random selection of links took me via the Doghouse Diaries to this post on Not Even Philosophy about various things Apple have done, including the changes to the iPhone developer agreement, and it got me thinking about Adobe Flash. In particular, this section:
Not only is it Apple’s right to not include Flash on Safari, it’s actually to the benefit of Mac/PC/iPhone/Android users in the mid- to long- term. I almost feel like this section needs little to no explanation if you’ve been keeping up with the HTML 5 / Flash debate. If Apple had continued to support Flash, a viable alternative would certainly not emerge for years to come, not to mention the quality of their products would have suffered in the meantime. Conversely, and for the sake of argument, this could also make Adobe revisit Flash and make it a much better product.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many criticisms that can be levelled at Flash, and at Adobe. Its security history is spotty at best, and recent flaws have been rather unpleasant and hard to work around short of disabling flash entirely. At various times, it’s been a horrible CPU hog, and even now it’s easy enough to create a page which bogs down the mightiest of PCs unless the host browser has some form of plugin throttle or has successfully moved plugins to separate/multiple processes. Of course, it’s closed-source commercial software, so if you’ve a bee in your bonnet for the GPL then it was never going to be your favourite. And y’know, I’ve ranted at length in the past about Adobe’s corporate policies — their “ha ha, because we can!” pricing policy (particularly for non-Americans) and their “how long was the illustrator graph tool broken for?” patching timescales. They aren’t perfect by a long chalk.
But, based on nothing more than gut feeling, I’d suggest that what the greatest number of people hate about Flash are the annoying ads it’s allowed into being. The “punch the monkey and win a prize” ads, the stupid autostarting video clips which blare out loud audio at the worst possible times. All the websites with 3 minute unskippable intro animations and menu systems that take 5 seconds after every button push before starting to load the new content. And guess what: none of that will go away.
HTML5 and its associated tech is looking to replace the underpinnings, not the mechanism itself. There’ll be HTML5 smack-the-spider ads, there’ll be opening sequences and too-clever-to-be-navigable interfaces. There’ll be video blaring out EVERYWHERE.
So by all means call the for destruction of Flash if you like, praise Apple for excluding Flash and others for stepping up, but just keep in mind that the new reality, when it arrives, might look a little familiar.