Silverlight was pretty much gone from Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference last week with HTML5 taking its place. Even as Silverlight continues to be Microsoft’s development platform for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft looks to be pushing HTML5 as the only true cross platform solution. Over the past few months, Microsoft has been getting aggressive in their HTML5 support as Internet Explorer 9 was shown off with HTML5 demos. More evidence is shown with Office for Mac using webkit instead of IE for displaying web content. Webkit is used in Safari and Chrome as the HTML rendering engine.
By moving from Silverlight to HTML5, Microsoft has put another nail in the coffin of flash. One may think that moving away from Silverlight was be a good thing for Flash, but that is not the case. Silverlight had an uphill battle against Flash because it has yet to achieve critical mass. RIAS (Rich Internet Application Statistics) reports Silverlight having only a 57% browser adoption rate. Microsoft must have seen this and is now moving to embrace HTML5 which should be in every new browser. HTML5 is Flash’s major competitor and adding Microsoft to the HTML5 camp is not good news for Flash. Hopefully this means full support for HTML5 on one of the last major browsers to support it, Internet Explorer. With HTML5 being supported by all major browsers, we should see less browser incompatibilities, one of the main reasons to use Flash in the first place.
We have also seen HTML5 video adoption continue to have substantial growth. MeFeedia came out with a report that showed 54% of web video can now be played in HTML5. Compare that to only 10% back in January 2010. One has to ask, what happened in January to change things? One word, iPad.
Video, applications, browser independence, and easy interactive content are the main reasons to choose Flash for your website. I would think a year from now HTML5 video should be above 80-90%. Most ad insertion apps still use Flash for adding ads to video. That should change over the next year as HTML5 ad solutions continue to be developed. As far as web applications go, HTML5 and AJAX can easily do what Flash delivers. As an iPad user I see very few flash apps out there, and when they are available, the Apps in Apple’s iTunes store are much better. Browser independence should really start to diminish with HTML5 adaptation.
That leaves one area for using Flash; easy interactive content. I see this most often on the iPad, websites that want to look cool and be interactive. They don’t have time to write for different browsers or spend money on AJAX coders, so they resort to Flash. I see Flash sites for small cars companies, musicians, and restaurants to name a few. Flash’s biggest strength is an easy to use, non programming, development platform. It is a platform that designers use as well as coders. Designers don’t code in HTML5 or AJAX. If HTML5 whats to replace Flash, it will need an easy to development environment for the non-programmer - the graphic designer. A development platform for both graphic artist and coders to collaborate. Something like iWeb on steroids that lives outside of MobileMe. This type of application would be the last nail in the coffin for Flash.
Adobe is the one who usually develops these type of applications and they have. Last week at the Adobe Conference MAX, Adobe previewed Edge; a prototype tool for HTML5. Edge allows you to create HTML5 animations in a graphical environment. This is the type of tool we need to bring HTML5 to graphical designers, and it would fit right into the Adobe Creative Suite, except for one thing, Flash. Will Adobe create a full featured development environment for HTML5? No, I don’t see them cannibalizing Flash for HTML5. Adobe will be building a HTML5 application for their creative suite, one than is limited so Flash is still needed. This Edge product needs competition and we need it soon for HTML5 to become a Flash replacement we all hope it can be. We can’t let Adobe gain another monopoly in the create application market. This is an area where Apple could deliver great value. Apple had no issues in taking on Adobe Premiere and AVID in the editing space, and Final Cut Pro became a monster in the industry. I can only assume Apple could take on the HTML5 creative space in the same manner.
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