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Flash to iOS – Journey of a Video

Earlier this month, Apple previewed Final Cut Pro X; the newest version of the company’s professional non-linear video editing software and Photoshop Touch SDK. But, the next biggest announcement was that of Adobe’s declaration to add support for HTTP Live streaming (HLS) to its Flash Media Server.

HLS helps send live or pre-recorded video to iOS devices and Macs, using any traditional web browser. Which means that, companies who create Flash video as part of their workflow can now stream that video to iPads, iPad touches, and iPhones, without the pre-requisite of re-encoding it. This will enable users to watch many Web videos on iOS devices or Flash-free Mac.

In a one of its kind post, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, says, “We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.” Predictably, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan retorted by calling Jobs’ letter “patently false” and “for every one of these accusations made, there is proprietary lock-in” preventing Adobe from addressing any issues.

Adobe already has a server-side streaming technology of its own, HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS). Although, that only works with devices that support Flash. HLS beats HDS when it comes to buy-in. Even Microsoft served Silverlight-encoded video to iOS devices using HLS since 2009. Adobe’s support of HLS marks a shift for both Apple and Adobe. Adobe has lamented iOS’s lack of Flash support since before it was named iOS. And now, with its open support for HLS, it is invalidating some of its own past complaints. Adobe is definitely reaping benefits from this new find, and will also cheer the easier access to iOS devices. Still, Apple seems to emerge as the clear winner.

Apple’s decision of not supporting Flash on iOS increases its credibility along with its informed decision. It also established a page on its website to celebrate the top-tier sites with iPad-friendly HTML5 video, which included You Tube, CNN and ESPN.

Flash is the go-to for many web video providers, but iOS is slowly finding its way around. iOS devices, if one believes Adobe’s announcements, will be able to stream videos without any updates on Apple’e end. Tablets that relied on Flash, will no longer have the upper hand on Apple’s device. Unsatisfied Mac users will also profit with the advent of iOS. John Gruber, Macworld Senior Contributor, has suggested that Mac users uninstall Flash for better performance. With the Flash’s HLS support, Mac users will be able to consume Flash video without needing to install Flash. Adobe’s love for technology will not change anything in regards to Flash’s other uses. iOS will still not be able to support web advertisements, introductory animations and Flash games.

iOS sales have not suffered its lack of Flash support and Adobe is tacitly conceding that if it wants to reach that large number of users, it will have to follow Apple’s terms. Adobe’s new attitude to HLS is a welcome change, but it does not seem to benefit consumers. However, it surely proves a point or two in the field of web video.

  1. With all due respect, I believe you are making a mistake by carrying on Apple's war on the browser!

    What about the fact that Apple has been so desperate to maintain its artificial dominance (entirely due to the fact they got on the market first) by having anti competitive, illegal and arrogant behaviors?

    What about the fact that while Apple was desperately trying whatever it can to screw everyone (developers, businesses, publishers, advertisers and even its own customers) and destroy the web, Adobe has been laughing all the way to the bank by imposing its Flash Platform as the #1 application development platform that allows us, developers to build once and deploy everywhere?

    What about the fact that the mobile market is not driven by devices or platform or carrier but by us, application developers? Whoever controls apps controls the market.

    What about the fact that Steve Jobs attempted to kill Flash not because it is outdated but because it is too good and a threat to Apple's "divide and rule" strategy and a direct threat to iTunes and AppStore?

    What about the fact that the European Competition Commissioner gave Steve Jobs a reality check by constraining Apple to reverse its change of TOS aimed at blocking the port of Flash application to iOS?

    What about the fact that FTC constrained Apple to approve Google Voice?

    What about the fact that Steve Jobs was recently ordered to testify in an ongoing antitrust lawsuit over iTunes which might very soon blow up to his face?

    What about the fact that yet another investigation is around the corner over the Apple Tax and the in-app / subscription scam?

    What about the fact that Apple broke its teeth trying to twist our arms (developers) to build for Apple first and Apple only? Even pushing as far as requiring us to develop on a Mac until the EU got involved?

    What about the fact that the ban of Flash in the browser is now back firing and making Apple's devices ridiculously "has been" and isolated Apple in its corner?

    What about the fact that the entire industry rallied behind Adobe?

    That is what you get when you f*%ck with everyone and think you are so big that you can get away with it... Apple is big but not as big as the rest of the business and development world determined to bring it down as much for its arrogance and big mouth CEO than for its market advance or temporary dominance?

    What about the fact that Apple's PR department is so desperate to keep the face that they try to reverse the situation and make everyone believe (something they are champion at) that they won the war?

    What about the fact that Flash's mobile adoption is 2011 is going over the roof?

    What about the fact that no Flash in the browser is the #1 customer complain from iPad owners?

    Apple as we know it today is dying, long live the open web and multi screen apps.

    This is a blog post I wrote on Apple's war on Flash and iOS browser:

    This is my Twitter:

    And this is my LinkedIn group:

  2.  Best of both worlds: Mac users can remove the Flash plug-in and enjoy better performance in Safari and Firefox, and install Google Chrome (which has Flash embedded) to use for the few instances where they actually need Flash!

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