flash_notdead
by RC Concepcion

Hey everyone – I figured while we were in the guest blog mood with no guest blog, I’d fill in and talk a little bit about something that seems to be a hot topic as of late – Flash on mobile devices. In what seems to be an open debate – Conan vs. Leno Style – the arguments have spilled out into the open as to whether the Flash technology will die because of its inability to be on smart phones. This argument reached fever pitch when Steve Jobs himself wrote an open letter – defending the decision not to run Flash on their devices.

Now, I personally disagreed with the open letter and posted my own rant about it on my personal blog arguing point by point why I thought Mr. Jobs was looking at it the wrong way. That said- I still don’t think that the iPod/iPad should be forced to have Flash installed on them. I’d like it.. It’d be nice… It’d be even better with an on/off switch.. but it’s ultimately Apple’s call – and you have to respect that. At its core, I just took issue with -how- the argument was presented and how I felt like the choice was limiting – but consumers should ultimately decide with their wallets.

This would beg the question as to whether Flash “is Dead” (as it’s clamored on the net these days). I’d say – don’t count them out yet. Here’s a few reasons why. Come on.. you know you’re curious.. :)

As Cool as Smartphones Are, People Still Use Computers
I love my iPad, and I love my Droid phone. I just don’t spend the whole day playing on either of them. That’s reserved for my Dell/Apple laptops – where I bang away on articles, content, video, and so forth. As much as we’d love to toll the bell for Flash because of what a mobile device does, I still think of it as something I use -part of the time-

Flash Can Handle Itself Nicely with Touch Based Events
Couple of days ago, our head web guy came in with an HTC Incredible – loaded with Flash. Anxious, I reached for it and went to my Flash portfolio to check it out. Then something magical happened. It -actually- worked! I was able to go around my portfolio (which has hover states) and get to each subsection, without wanting to slam the phone against the wall.

lee_flashLee Brimelow (of which I am a big fan of. Check this Twitter account) has posted a video on his website showing off how touch based events are working just fine on some Flash websites. The video is brisk, and interspersed in it are some basic explanations as to how the Flash experience translates to the mobile device.

Click here to go to Lee’s Movie on Flash and Touch Interface

Here’s another great video to check out from Ryan Stewart (his Twitter) from Adobe showcasing off how some websites appear on mobile devices- in this case, Android:

Here’s another cool example. Click on this link to see Michael Chaize from Adobe update his keyboard based inputs in Flash to touch based events in about three seconds.

Flash Isn’t just for Video – Just ask IKEA…
Or any car manufacturer for that matter. Over the weekend, I was trying to check out some stuff at the local IKEA. I pulled out my iPad and went to the website. Guess what happened – Large blocks of it were useless because of the lack of Flash. I quickly gave up on it and went to browse the Honda website (I’m trying to talk myself down from wanting a Honda Element.. they’re too cool!!!). Same thing there.. blocks of website were unusable because of Flash. Frustrated- I put the iPad down and grabbed my laptop. Now – I love the iPad, but if this becomes a common experience for me, I could see the iPad’s use be limited to specific things.. something that IMO doesn’t make it a magical transformative device. It just makes it a really cool tool for X and Y…

Flash is a great tool to use to create immersive environments – something that can really provide differentiation for you if you are trying to get on the internet. These days, it looks like people just relegate Flash to “Oh, that thing that uses video…” Not true.

The best examples I give people: Go to the Got Milk Website or browse on ANY website over at The FWA. These are GREAT implementations of Flash.. and something that I think create a lasting impression with your brand. We’ve just lost contact with all of this because in order for a normal person to do this, we’d need to become programmers.. but it still is viable.. and I argue very necessary. Heck, did you know that some of your panels in Photoshop CS4 and CS5 are written in Flash? They are…

Flash Versus HTML5 – Fight!
Much has been said about Flash Versus HTML5. Let me be clear. I happen to think that HTML5 is going to be AWESOME, and very necessary. However let’s not start the Pyre for Flash yet in terms of performance. See the video below from Michael Chaize (his Twitter) on

Yes Yes, I know.. you’re going to argue more “But What about” points.. .
Yes, I know that there will be a group that will just contradict things here.. simply because .. well.. It’s the internet.. that’s what we do. Let me try to head that off:

(and yes.. these are all things I’ve heard at one time or another.. )

But what about Flash being resource hungry on your phone, taking up all of your resources?!?!
Don’t visit that specific site.. or better yet, Turn Flash off when you do. On/Off is a very easy thing to get behind. Much more so than not having a technology because “It was decided that not having it was better for us”. Hey.. some could argue that the iPhone is “User Experience Hungry” taking and monopolizing everything and preventing you from changing anything on your experiences.. These are small arguments. Let’s not give into them.

But what about my battery life? Flash is just gonna eat my battery?!?!
I’m sure it would. About the same as it would if you sat and watched videos on your phone all day.. or played video games all day.. or used Twitter all day. I mean, really.. are you going to spend THAT much time on a Flash website on your mobile phone that you’re concerned on power loss? It’s not like you visit 1 site and BAM 50% of power is lost.

Steve Jobs is the Man! He’s just taking it to the streets..
I agree.. Steve Jobs is brilliant, and he makes amazing devices.. I just happen to disagree with him on where he stands on -this- thing. And that’s OK too.

What do we Do? Diversify
I believe that Scott’s taken a great approach here on his blog by including both Jquery and Flash versions of his portfolio. I think anyone who is working in the Web space is best to be versed in both technologies, HTML5 and Flash. Android is taking a good footing in the mobile phone space, with NPD recently posting that Android sales have overtaken iPhone sales (small small win.. but good… I mean.. there’s a TON of iPhones already out there..) so it’s a good bet to say that neither technology will be burying the other any time soon.

In the end, we shouldn’t worry about which one hits the deadpool first. We should worry about how to use what’s out there to innovate what we want to do next.

The opinions expressed here are solely RC’s and not Scott’s at all.. so no grumbly hate mail for Scott please.. thanks!