From Adobe to Apple

Posted by Hitarth Jani | 8:25 PM | , | 35 comments »

If you were one of the people who just loved Apple's spat with Adobe over Flash support - or rather, Flash non-support, because Apple won't let it onto iOS devices - then we've got bad news for you.

Flash is coming to the iPhone, the iPad and the iPad 2. IN YOUR FACE, FLASH HATERS!

Okay, it's a bit more complicated than that. Steve Jobs hasn't changed his mind, and iOS hasn't got a secret Enable Flash switch. What's changed is at Adobe's end. Its new Wallaby tool takes a Flash file and turns it into HTML5, which means it'll work quite happily in Mobile Safari.

Adobe stresses that Wallaby is basic - it's an Adobe Labs experiment rather than a complete piece of software - but it's pretty interesting nonetheless. Does it mean the end of Apple's Flash ban - or is it the beginning of the end of Flash itself?

I don't want to keep you in suspense. The answer to both questions is no.

So what's happening here?

It's all about the ads

In the short term, this is about ads. Flash ads don't work on iOS devices, so if Adobe can make it easy for site builders to turn their Flash ads into HTML5 ones then it'll make a lot of people happy.

That's essentially what Wallaby does: it takes basic flash ads and repackages them.If you're looking for a tool that turns your multimedia extravaganza or game into something that you can stick on an iPad, Wallaby isn't it.

In the longer term? Flash was created to do things HTML simply couldn't, such as animation and later, video. As HTML and related technologies have evolved, developers have been able to do more and more things in HTML5; over time, the lines between "things you can only do in Flash" and "things you can easily do in HTML5" have blurred.

As that process continues, Adobe can do two things. It can do nothing, put its fingers in its ears and go "NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH CAN'T HEAR YOU" and try to squeeze as much cash out of Flash as it can before it becomes obsolete.

Or it can look at ways for its tools to be the market leaders not just in Flash creation, but in HTML5 creation too - and it can look for ways in which its tools can make life easier for designers and devs who need to create for IE and iPads.

That's what I think is going on here, because that's what Adobe does.

Photoshop was originally something you used for print; when the web came along, Adobe changed it and made it something you use for print and web. InDesign was originally something you used to make print publications; when publications went digital InDesign went digital too.

Wallaby isn't an admission of defeat. It's Adobe hedging its bets.