Tuesday, June 15, 2010

(empo-utoobd) Spending time in Steve Jobs' Flash-less Utopia

I can't really share the complete details of this, but suffice it to say that as a result of a recent Adobe security advisory, one of the computers to which I have access did not have Flash support for a week.

According to Steve Jobs, I didn't lose anything. Here are some excerpts from his "Thoughts on Flash":

Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.

Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.

But what about, if I may borrow a term from Apple, "the rest of us"? In my case, my entertainment choices were significantly decreased.

I rarely watch television any more, and consume my entertainment via reading or via the radio. And frankly, even my listening to "the radio" is often online listening. As an example, Lakers games are broadcast on ESPN's Los Angeles, California radio station (KSPN, AM 710), which is all well and good during the day, but after dark the signal is pretty fuzzy in the Inland Empire, which I live. When I'm in the car, I listen to Lakers games on KSPA. When I'm not, I go to one of ESPN's websites to hear the games...

...which are streamed in Flash. So I couldn't listen to the Finals games on my computer during that one-week period.

Or to World Cup games, which ESPN broadcasts.

In my case, YouTube was out of the question also - which put a damper on my attempts to view Chris Brogan's new "Man on the Go" travel blog. Perhaps the iPad user can play YouTube, but it wasn't working on my computer. As you know, I'm fond of sharing YouTube videos via my Empoprise-MU music blog (here's a recent example). Perhaps you noticed that I didn't share any during the last week. Now you know why; if I can't play them, why share them?

Perhaps my lack of activity in the music blog adversely impacted my analytics. But if it did, I couldn't tell, because Google Analytics also uses Flash, so I couldn't see my analytics or even select time periods to view.

Over the decades, Jobs has been notorious for making design decisions that run the risk of penalizing his customers. For example, the original Macs did not come with a standard 5 1/4" floppy disk drive, but instead came with the newfangled 3 1/2" floppy disk drive (well, if you can refer to a 3 1/2" disk as "floppy"). In this case, Jobs ended up setting an industry-wise standard...well, at least until the floppy disk itself disappeared.

Will Jobs win his current battle against Flash? Time will tell.
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