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Flash versus HTML 5

The mobile perspective

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Trade-offs

At the same time, OMAP 4, TI’s latest generation of mobile processors, (as will be used in the BlackBerry Playbook) is also optimised for Flash.

It shares the same ARM core as Tegra 2, so the question is: who has done the better optimisation? No doubt, the head-to-heads will come out later this year.

The future for mobile developers is multi-platform, with Android OS, BlackBerry 6 and even Windows Phone 7 making waves. In this context, developing for the mobile web, as opposed to building apps for proprietary platforms, will be the way forward. But there will still be trade-offs.

For instance, HTML 5 is not a realistic choice for everything web designers and developers want to build, particularly in a cross-platform, cross-browser world. Flash solves problems and provides a relatively consistent platform across browsers and devices.

When Google announced recently that it is dropping support for the H.264 codec in the <video> tag in the Chrome browser, it stated that this would promote open web standards.

Whether or not that is the full reason, Google could not contemplate this move without the Flash Player, now embedded by default in Chrome, which will continue to play H.264 content provided it is in a Flash wrapper. Maybe Flash will decline as HTML 5 evolves, and Apple’s position has forced web sites to provide non-Flash content in order to support iOS.

It is also possible that Adobe will keep improving its player to stay a jump ahead; the upside of proprietary technology is that it can evolve more quickly than standards driven by cross-industry committees. In the meantime, better to have Flash than not to have it.

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