Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Apple and Adobe: Will HTML5 Win?

It’s been a little while since Steve Jobs publicly called out Adobe’s laziness and banned Flash applications for Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad products. Subsequent to the news, we all saw a big wave of questions, discussions, concerns, and opinions on the subject. Lately it seems like the internet and its users have come to terms with the topic. Though there are no more discussions, the fundamental issue between Apple and Adobe stands as it was. Looking at the advancements and experiences released in past few months for apple products, I think, yes, the Apple and Adobe conflict will have lasting effects on the future of Flash. Steve Jobs will also be remembered in the history for bringing a change to the status quo interactive experience tools. What the future holds for developing interactive experiences is still a big question. Will HTML5 win it all? What about Microsoft’s Silverlight or something new from Adobe itself?

HTML 5 at least at theoretical level seems to promise a good future. It is true that everyone needs to start thinking about adoption of HTML 5 but there are some major problems. HTML 5 is not yet supported on all browsers. Video streaming –basics of interactive experience – is still not standardized on all browsers. Browsers such as Safari, Chrome and Firefox which support HTML 5 do not agree on using standard codecs. The power of Flash comes from the fact that it runs on more than 96% of browsers worldwide. Flash provides a way to move beyond standards issues. HTML 5 has a long way to go to get there. Additionally, HTML 5 cannot do everything that Flash can so we need to understand that it is not 1:1 switch. Microsoft’s Silverlight on the other hand offers almost everything Flash does but its adoption levels are still very low and close to just about 55%.

Steve Jobs thinks Adobe is a lazy company. I think he is right. Apple wants to change the game for how video streaming and digital interactions works. Apple can take this kind of risks because it controls everything it develops. Apple controls hardware to operating systems to basic software to applications that run on its products. But for larger industry to make this kind of move it will take a lot of time, energy and resources. So in a short run I do not think marketers and publishers need to worry about Flash. In a long run innovation will define what will replace Flash. Will it be HTML 5, Silverlight, something new or Flash itself!

I like to place bets, and this time looking at how category for tablet and smart phone is growing, I think it will be Flash that will replace Flash nothing else!

-- Salim Hemdani

Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple iPad... iPhone with a big screen?

Apple’s release of iPad, a new multi-touch gadget with 10” display is making a lot of buzz in the marketplace. So far there is skepticism on the demand, utility and future of this type of device. Historically, Apple has a reputation of developing products that are disruptive in nature and truly game changing. From iPod to iTunes to iPhone Mr. Jobs and his team have changed how people use digital gadgets and consume digital content. Apple has a responsibility to defend this reputation and iPad might have fallen short in the minds of some critics. Critics claim iPad is an iPhone without a phone. Of course it looks like an iPhone with a bigger screen but there is more to it. As I learn more about this device, my opinions are shaped contrary to those critics.

At a very broad level, there are two types of computing device users. People who use PC for productivity (workers) and people who use PC for genuinely personal use. The category of people who use PC for personal use is growing faster than ever. Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Bebo or CafeMom have increased number of digital content consumers. These users want a computer for web browsing, music, gaming, sharing photos, watching videos and consuming other digital content. The ultraportable devices (Netbooks) are invented solely for this kind of PC users. If you look at Apple’s line of products you will soon realize that this segment is particularly underserved. iPad will server this segment really well. And look at the beauty of research Apple has done, we all know that this segment does not buy high ticket items thus iPad starts at just $499.

I think critics are too focused on eBooks on iPad and how Apple is trying to change eBooks publishing business. Yes the whole story of re-writing the publishing rules should be debated but don’t lose the sight of this cool computing device over just eBooks. iPad can do a lot more than just reading books online. Yes, Kindle iPad can do a lot more than you can. At least for now.

I wish Apple can improve the device with just two more things a) allow all Mac software to run on iPad not just iPhone apps and b) install a camera in front of the iPad so people can do live chat. These two features will make it a true device of the future.

From where I stand, Apple has successfully defended its reputation!