HTML5 is coming, and a growing number of companies are trying to kick
the Flash habit, even if on a limited basis. The latest: popular online
document sharing service Scribd.
According to the startup's CTO, "We are scrapping three years of Flash
development and betting the company on HTML5 because we believe HTML5
is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash."
In the battle to follow consumers and serve them better advertising, behavioral tracking has been getting a bad rap. And as privacy and consumer advocates' concerns grow louder, regulators and corporations are listening (and changing their policies), which is also making anonymous tracking less effective.
According to a study by Scout Analytics out today, new updates to the Flash interface are making it easier for consumers to opt out of online cookies. That means that Flash, once seen as the barometer for following consumer surfing habits, is becoming less useful for tracking people online. And that is only likely to get worse.
The iPhone OS 4 SDK was released last week, but it's not all good news
for iPhone (and iPad) developers. That's because Section 3.3.1 of the iPhone Developer
Program License Agreement comes with a new catch:
Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by
Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.
The iPad is on its way. Apple started accepting pre-orders earlier this month, but there are still many unanswered questions about what iPad will deliver in its final form.
One thing that almost certainly won't be present when the iPad ships: support for Adobe Flash. That has numerous raised questions about both the iPad and Flash. After all, if the device Apple is betting so big on doesn't support Flash, will publishers, who have seen Apple's success with the iPhone, be forced to adopt Flash alternatives in order to position themselves to cash in if the iPad achieves success of its own? Or is Apple simply fighting a fight it can't win?
Myriad are the complaints from developers and consumers who have had to deal with wonky Flash programming. But Apple has drawn a line in the sand with its refusal to support Flash on its mobile products, and the repurcussions are continue to be felt.
Flash currently flourishes online, but more and more companies are opting out of using it. First a few publishers came out with iPad friendly websites. And now the Open Video Alliance, which includes Mozilla, Kaltura, and Yale Law School, has announced plans to get video on Wikipedia – Flash-free.
The battle between Adobe Flash and HTML5 is a subject that looks like it will be receiving a lot of attention in 2010. That has a lot to do with the iPad, which, like the iPhone, isn't expected to support Flash.
Some believe HTML5 could kill off Flash (and for that matter Silverlight), others don't. Of course, the full HTML5 spec probably won't be finished for another decade, but the debate over HTML5 and its impact on Flash is heating up because subsets of it are available and being adopted.
Fashion retailer Zara released an iPhone app recently, which falls well short of what a retailer could achieve with an iPhone app, in terms of promoting products and providing useful information for users.
The app offers a few pictures of its clothing range and new arrivals, but little else. Having looked at the app, I do wonder why they have bothered at all...
Fashion retailer Whistles relaunched its website last week, and the resulting Flash heavy site is certainly different.
According to Whistles' Jane Sheperdson, 'We spent a lot of time researching best practice
online. We then threw out everything we had learned, and just designed
something that pleased us visually.'
This is an interesting way to approach the design of an e-commerce site, but what will the result be for the user experience?
When it comes to the desktop, Flash Player is one of the more dominant plugins. Adobe claims it's "the world's most pervasive software platform...reaching 99.0% of Internet-enabled desktops". There's just one problem: internet-enabled mobiles are where much of the internet's future growth is usage is expected to come from.
But Adobe is trying to make sure that Flash Player is as dominant on the mobile as it is on the desktop and is making lots of announcements about its Open Screen Project at the Adobe developer conference in Los Angeles today.
I'm not exactly a Flash fanboy, largely on the grounds that many Flash-based sites suffer from Rubbish User Experience Syndrome (RUES) and all too often they don't play by Google's rules.
I can never understand why a web-based business would choose to ignore the fundamentals of SEO, or why some agencies push Flash towards their clients knowing that it isn't an especially Google-friendly technology. All style and no substance. But Flash has its place, especially for campaign-based sites, and recent improvements to the way search engines make sense of Flash-based websites have made it more acceptable than it used to be.
I've been talking to Skive technical director Matthew Don, who explains why he thinks Flash and SEO can be happy bedfellows, as opposed to mortal enemies.