When Apple released its new iPad tablet computer, very few (very few normal people, at least; all of us geeks were keen to it) may have noticed the omission of a web technology that’s pretty commonplace these days: Adobe’s Flash. Flash is a web browser plugin that is installed nearly everywhere; if you’ve viewed a video on Youtube, then you’ve used Flash. Many of you probably have websites that use Flash for introductory animations or to showcase product videos and demonstrations. It’s the most popular technology on the web for presenting video and interactive content.
That may soon be changing. Apple thus far has steadfastly refused to implement Flash technology on the popular iPhone, and the same goes for the new iPad: no Flash – not now, and probably not ever. Apple touts performance problems with Adobe’s Flash plugin as the main reason for this stance, but there are likely larger strategic motivations behind it – Adobe’s platform is “closed”, which means that Adobe controls how it works and what people can do with it. Technically, Apple’s iPhone/iPad operating system is closed as well, so there is more than a whiff of irony here. But Apple does have a lot of support in pushing for a world wide web that is based entirely on open standards.