Flash In The Pan
I started reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs the other day.
No, I’m not reading it on the iPad. This one, I picked up the actual pulp edition. The weight of the book (it’s some 600+ pages) feels suited to the task of conveying Jobs’ complicated and complex and marvelous life.
And after Adobe’s announcement yesterday that Adobe would no longer use Flash for the browser programs used for smartphones and tablets, you could hear Jobs laughing from his grave.
Surely you remember when Jobs purposely prevented Flash from working on iPhones and iPads — I certainly couldn’t forget, as I have both devices, and the Flash gap on the iPad became obvious very quick.
But there was a lot of history behind this strategy, and Jobs had a long memory. In the book, he recounts the story of asking Adobe to make a Mac version of Premiere back in 1999, and Adobe refused.
Jobs was more than ever convinced he needed to build a strategy that would allow him to tie the hardware and software together, and control the entire ecosystem.
The next thing you know, we had the iPod, iTunes, the iTunes store, the iPhone, the iPad…you get the picture.
But Adobe’s sudden detour, in which they announced they’re instead going to embrace HTML5, could signal a new kind of platform war, one led by programming excellence rather than proprietary regimes.
As more and more of the once open-standards Web starts to see the return of walled (or, at least, semi-walled) gardens, it’s refreshing to see an expanded embrace of HTML5. I believe this will drive innovation and force the mobile and web experiences to compete on usability, merit, and utility, as opposed to plug-in dominance and proprietary lock-in battles.
Of course, there are significant economic benefits this move as well, as Adobe can help its clients develop once to run applications across multiple platforms, eliminating the need for costly platform adjustments and tuning, and freeing up time and energy to focus on innovation.
It’s too bad Steve Jobs wasn’t around to witness this firsthand.
But something tells me he would probably have approved…even if might have done so wearing a big, wide smirk on his face.