Adobe Flash and the iPhone/iPad

Somebody who knows my fondness for gadgets asked me the other day about the whole Adobe Flash thing on the iPhone (or rather the lack of). They wanted to know if it would be a problem, since they were considering purchasing an iPhone.

In my view, it hasn’t been a problem and I’ve been an iPhone owner for quite a while now. There are 50 million iPhones and half a million iPads floating around that don’t run Flash, and none of the iPhone’s current competitors support Flash either. I’ve had an iPhone for quite a while now, and it’s been a long time since I ran into a site that wouldn’t work on an iPhone. As a Windows Mobile and a Palm user in the past, I hated visiting certain sites on those devices simply because there was no thought given to mobile users and a lot of sites wouldn’t work on those devices. With the popularity of the iPhone, that’s all changed, and it benefits everybody on a mobile platform, because website designers and maintainers now take mobile devices into account. It helps that the mobile data networks have gotten better as well.

The majority of genealogy-related sites I visit on my iPhone are blogs anyways and usually have little to no Flash. I tied to shy away from some genealogy sites that are heavy on the bandwidth as my connection is usually not the best for dealing with such sites. Here in 2009-2010, we have it incredibly good though – we are getting browsers and screen resolutions that allow us to actually be able to browse the web in a productive manner.

As to why it’s not allowed, I think it boils down to Apple doesn’t want another company to build a development layer on top of the iPhone, because at that point it stops being an Apple mobile platform and it becomes an Adobe mobile platform. I think there are plenty of other solid reasons – HTML5 (Wikipedia) would be better in the long run since it’s an open standard, and most of us have probably suffered through problems involving Adobe’s Flash plug-in. I’m well aware that Adobe has been working to fix those problems on Windows and Mac OS X with the latest major releases, but I really like the idea of HTML5 getting rid of the need for third party plug-ins. I don’t play Flash-based games though, so my experiences are definitely not going to be the same as others.

I’ve read both sides of the argument, and both make valid points, but I would rather a lot of sites move to HTML5, because I like the idea of not worrying about what mobile device I’m using and whether I have this or that level of plug-in.

Being a genealogist I’m always a fan of open standards as well which would firmly put me in the HTML5 camp, and I’m a fan of anything that causes web designers to take a step back and look at things from the point of view of somebody on a small mobile device whether it’s an iPhone, Android, Palm, or Windows Mobile (Windows Phone 7).