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HTML5 and Flash: The Battle for the Web

Written on June 7, 2010

There is a veritable war going on around the internet, if you haven’t noticed. In the one corner, we have the tried-and-true Adobe Flash, staple of all things internet multimedia. In the other corner, the up-and-coming HTML5. Debate rages over which is more efficient and where each lies in the future of wed-based development. Many are staying objective, acknowledging that each has their place and their futures are yet to be decided. And many are not.

No one made a bigger splash in the pool of debate than Steve Jobs. In April, Jobs posted an article on Apple.com, and at length explained why Flash was less efficient, less secure, and less capable than HTML5. He also discusses the “open” factor, in fact saying directly that, “Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true.” Open source and standards means a lot for developers of all sizes, from companies to individuals. Apple has seen this first hand, and after public backlash decided to drop the Non Disclosure Agreement for the iPhone SDK back in 2008.

Not everyone is convinced of Apple’s dedication to open-source in terms of HTML5. The potential for full compatibility with browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome remains to be determined. Yet HTML5 is without question on the rise. Jobs confirmed at the recent D8 Conference that Apple’s mobile products – of course meaning the iPad and iPhone – will be using HTML5, and will not support Adobe Flash.

Apple maybe the biggest push for HTML5, but they’re not the only ones signing on. YouTube has provided an opt-in experiment for HTML5 support. Google-owned YouTube is currently the web’s biggest provider of Flash video. Blogs such as Lifehacker have posted multiple articles touting the potential of HTML5. At Google’s I/O conference in 2009, they discussed the future of HTML5 and Google – specifically their future together.

Will this push be big enough to muscle Flash out of the web? Is HTML5 the sole future for mobile devices and beyond? Without question the landscape of app development for mobile devices, development for web-based apps, and all multimedia encoding on the web will continue to change as these new technologies seek to de-throne the established. Stay tuned.

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