Steve Jobs is claiming his iPhone and iPad to be the latest in tech, while intimating that Adobe’s interactive content creator, Flash, is something from the past to be discarded by any hip tech person. The opposite is true. The iPhone and iPad are not strong or fast enough to keep up with Flash. Further, content created by Flash would inhibit Job’s ability to control all iPad and iPhone content, including iBooks. And Jobs further made his Flash lock-out move, clearly, to break Flash’s stronghold on web video (Flash is the number 1 video streamer and has been for some time – because it works!) As Lily Tomlin’s comic character, Emily Ann, used to say: “And that’s the truth!”
A colleague of mine bought an iPad and expressed surprise that I did not already have one. “It does not run Flash,” I explained. My book cannot be read on it because my book is full of Flash animations and interactive elements like narration tracks. My colleague insisted that I was wrong. He thought the iPad ran Flash. Check again, I suggested. He did, and learned there is no Flash content on his iPad. That surprised him. Good for Jobs that so many lay people bought these devices not knowing what they were missing. Good for Jobs that so many lay people believed the crock about Flash being outdated tech. Bad for the public – those laypeople – though. There is a lot of interactive content out there that they are missing. Any content creator that stops using Flash and turns to HTML 5 and its new video format will be constricted, too.
We’ve seen this before in interactive history, sadly. When the WEB went public and became mainstream in the mid-90s, there were many of us interactive content creators who were very disappointed. It was a giant step backward for us and it is only recently that interactive has begun to catch up with where we interactive content creators already were when the WEB appeared: full motion video, millions of colors, smooth animation, full interactivity, database connectivity, etc.
Now Jobs has forced another back in time tech move on us. The WEB was at first way too slow and feature inhibited to display any of the great interactive content we IC developers had been producing for years! Many of us just disappeared into the woodwork rather than suffer through content development with such a limited tool as the WEB. Jobs is forcing the same scenario on us today – fifteen + years later! HTML can show slide shows and video. It cannot show all the animation and interactive content that Flash allows us to produce.
Why aren’t we hearing more static from content developers? Because journalists often don’t know enough to ask the right questions. Because some are afraid of offending Jobs because of his power (scary imitation of Gates fear from the past). Some, like me, are sticking with Flash, knowing that our audience is being limited, but preferring to create to our full potential and not sell out to the limited interactivity and media templates owned and controlled by Jobs, the limited epub format and the limited interactivity of standalone HTML 5.0. More about this next time.
To be continued.