Steve Jobs Versus Everyone

I find it odd to come across an article on Web standards this morning on Smashing Magazine proclaiming the end of Flash by including, quite oddly, imagery of United States military personnel.
In presenting what the author considers compelling reasons for Web standards adoption in favour of Flash and (I suppose) other plug-ins, we see imagery of a soldier brandishing a machine gun while displaying a big thumbs up.

Ahh.. yes.. of course, I see the connection -the debate is over; diplomacy has failed and it is now time for brute military force -destroy Flash and all plug-in Web technologies; it’s our way or the highway I guess (or, at least in the eyes of the misguided author).

This rationale really bugs me. That is, I am a big proponent of thing X (in this case, Javascript) so I am going to do everything in my power to stamp out and criticize thing Y (in this case Adobe Flash) because I feel there is only one viable way to build Web sites. It’s like being stuck in a meeting where one individual monopolizes the discussion by sucking all the collaborative air out of the room.

The author goes on to argue that Flash sites are beginning to gradually disappear from the Web. Strange, I didn’t notice anything different about the FWA today. Perhaps the author’s conjecture was based upon the recent news regarding Apple’s latest SDK agreement which essentially blocks Flash developers from the iPhone and iPad. So I suppose Flash sites must have instantaneously disappeared overnight then?

I am sorry, but I like to think there are multiple ways to architect Web experiences. Certainly a site like Record Tripping for example, could not realistically be achieved exclusively through Javascript libraries and HTML5 contrary to what Flash opponents would have you believe.

C’mon, if you actually took the time to research your post by reading between the lines of the (ongoing) Apple versus Adobe feud, you would realize a lot of the premature hype regarding the demise of Flash actually surrounds Steve Jobs’ desire to keep the App Store free from competitive offerings. As John Gruber (a.k.a. Daring Fireball) writes:

So what Apple does not want is for some other company to establish a de facto standard software platform on top of Cocoa Touch. Not Adobe’s Flash. Not .NET (through MonoTouch). If that were to happen, there’s no lock-in advantage. If, say, a mobile Flash software platform — which encompassed multiple lower-level platforms, running on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — were established, that app market would not give people a reason to prefer the iPhone.

And, obviously, such a meta-platform would be out of Apple’s control. Consider a world where some other company’s cross-platform toolkit proved wildly popular. Then Apple releases major new features to iPhone OS, and that other company’s toolkit is slow to adopt them. At that point, it’s the other company that controls when third-party apps can make use of these features.

While Steve Job can quite frankly do what ever he wants to maintain Apple’s competitive supremacy in the mobile application marketplace, we all know technology moves fast and things eventually change. The iPhone is certainly not the be-all and end-all ecosystem for mobile application development. So, as a developer, if you do decide to start playing by Apple’s strict rules, be prepared to surrender your freedom to the whims of the tyrannical App Store. To paraphrase an old saying: All Your Base Are Belong To Steve -can’t say we didn’t all see this coming.

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