Why the web used to need Flash (and might not need it anymore)

Undoubtedly Flash put the web to another level. With Flash there was finally the ability to create content with user experience not dictated by a markup language (HTML) but freeform, whatever the user liked, whatever the best usability was, whatever the IA / designer / programmer thought was best. This made the web big, this made Flash big.

However, times have changed. Flash is no longer the only technology to achieve all this. HTML5 can do some of it, JavaScript can do some of it, other proprietary platform like the iPhone and iPad can do some of it.

We all agree that Apple keeping back a hole bunch of cool content from the users by not putting Flash on their devices. On one hand they are doing it for “evil” business interests. They want to push their own gaming platform and don’t want all online Flash games on the web to be playable on their device. On the other hand they have good reasons: The iPhone was not powerful enough to render and display demanding Flash content.

With the iPad however the performance argument is obsolete. The hardware can “do” Flash. So why didn’t they put Flash on the device? Ok, there is still the business reason. The other thing is – I’m afraid – the demand from the users for Flash was simply not there. The majority of users feel perfectly comfortable in the App / HTML5 environment. Except from not playing videos on major news sites, the only experience from missing Flash was that there are no annoying banners.

For me it’s a bad sign that Adobe uses mostly videos and games content as an argument for Apple to put Fash on the iPad. For these two issues Flash is not necessarily the best solution, although it is currently industry standard. Why doesn’t Adobe argues with all the cool micro sites / agency sites / data visualization sites / multimedia sites?

Because they don’t find this content relevant enough. They concentrate on the blockbusters (video and games). And then, why should Apple find this content relative enough?

I don’t want to “rant” Flash (again). It’s not closed against open source. All I’m saying is that Adobe set a proprietary industry standard with Flash (perfectly described by Ryan here) and now Apple (tries to) set a new proprietary industry standard with their platform. Which might end up to be not the worst thing.

Not that big of a deal.

PS: Point taken on the general critic on closed platforms.