Steve Jobs' 1,700-word indictment of Flash is a classic piece of marketing guile. Several of his reasons for barring Flash from the iPhone and iPad hit the mark, from Flash's lack of respect for battery life to the "reliability, security, and performance" problems of many Flash apps.
But Jobs' hypocrisy shows through when he assails Flash as proprietary -- that takes some nerve -- and reiterates his assertion that HTML5 is a panacea that makes Flash unnecessary. He also says the lack of support for Flash video is no big deal because most videos on the Web, whether in a Flash player or not, use the popular H.264 video codec supported by his platform. Well, sure, H.264 videos will play if, like YouTube, you decide to write an iPhone app or, like the New York Times, you change your Website's video delivery technology.
[ Get the lowdown on the Web's future with "What to expect from HTML5" by InfoWorld contributing editor Neil McAllister. | Follow the latest news in software development with InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]
It didn't take long for Microsoft to chime in. Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Internet Explorer, bashed Flash's "reliability, security, and performance" (same three words, same order) in Microsoft's IE Blog just hours after Jobs posted. And he offers the broad assertion as Jobs: "The future of the Web is HTML5."
The key word in that sentence is "future." As contributing editor Neil McAllister wrote in his recent InfoWorld feature, "What to expect from HTML5, "It may be years before a completed standard emerges and even longer before the bulk of the Web-surfing public moves to HTML5-compatible browsers."
What exactly are we supposed to do in the meantime? Flash may not be open, but like it or not, it's ubiquitous to the Web and essential to rich interaction on a huge number of sites. To Hachamovitch's credit, he concedes that "Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today's Web." No kidding.
What could possibly motivate Microsoft and Apple to agree on anything? Let's start with Microsoft. If you ask me, Hachamovitch was just surfing the Jobs firestorm to burn Firefox.