Lack Of Flash On The iPad Is A Win For Accessible, Standards-Based Design

There’s been a lot of discussion in the last week about Apple’s decision to not support Flash on the upcoming iPad.

If you could not care less about the iPad, Apple’s decision won’t matter to you.

But if you think that the iPad could be one of the most significant music technologies of 2010, Apple’s decision to dump Flash is probably going to affect you.

Lack of Flash on the iPad means that some interesting Flash-based music apps – like Tone Matrix, 5 Experience Pulse & Soundation, aren’t going to work on the device. If the new thing doesn’t support Flash  this could set back the idea of browser based music software.

Video embeds will be broken at many sites, and some media players, too.  Flash banner ads will be broken.

And the Flash-based Websites of a lot of musicians will be missing in action.

While many decry Apple’s decision, one of the most interesting commentaries I’ve seen comes from web standards guru Jeffrey Zeldman. Zeldman was one of the founders of the Web Standards Project, a group of Web designers dedicated to encouraging the use of Web standards.

Zeldman says that the lack of Flash on the iPad is good for the Web.

Zeldman has this to say about Apple’s decision to leave Flash off the iPad:

Lack of Flash in the iPad (and before that, in the iPhone) is a win for accessible, standards-based design. Not because Flash is bad, but because the increasing popularity of devices that don’t support Flash is going to force recalcitrant web developers to build the semantic HTML layer first.

As the percentage of web users on non-Flash-capable platforms grows, developers who currently create Flash experiences with no fallbacks will have to rethink their strategy and start with the basics before adding a Flash layer. They will need to ensure that content and experience are delivered with or without Flash.

Developers always should have done this, but some don’t. For those who don’t, the growing percentage of users on non-Flash-capable platforms is a wake-up call to get the basics right first.

HTML5, with its built-in support for video and audio, plays perfectly into this new model of computing and browsing; small wonder that Google and Apple’s browsers support these HTML5 features.

Apple’s decision to not support Flash is a tough one – but it’s still the right decision.  The decision, like Apple’s early adoption of USB and dumping of disk drives, is a move forward that only Apple is in a position to make.

And Apple’s most influential products have been defined by the features they’ve left out as much as the features that they’ve included.


23 thoughts on “Lack Of Flash On The iPad Is A Win For Accessible, Standards-Based Design

  1. I'm a web developer and I hate Flash-based websites…but I rather like Flash apps. Currently there's no other way to make some of these apps work over the internet, and until there is, going Flash-less sets our internet back about 10 years.

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  2. I'm a web developer and I hate Flash-based websites…but I rather like Flash apps. Currently there's no other way to make some of these apps work over the internet, and until there is, going Flash-less sets our internet back about 10 years.

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  3. It's a nice piece of spin for this to be perceived as a move towards more open standards. When it was probably done to force more developers to write iPad specific apps instead of using the more cross-platform-compatible Flash.

    Also, Flash is so ubiquitous on the web these days that the iPad will be totally crippled as a web browsing machine without it. I mean, seriously, no YouTube? No mySpace? no Facebook apps?

    This is going to be a major pain in the arse for Apple when customers return to the Apple stores in droves demanding to know why their favourite web sites don't work properly only to be fed a bunch of drivel by an Apple fanboi about how broken websites on the iPad is actually good for them.

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  4. It's a nice piece of spin for this to be perceived as a move towards more open standards. When it was probably done to force more developers to write iPad specific apps instead of using the more cross-platform-compatible Flash.

    Also, Flash is so ubiquitous on the web these days that the iPad will be totally crippled as a web browsing machine without it. I mean, seriously, no YouTube? No mySpace? no Facebook apps?

    This is going to be a major pain in the arse for Apple when customers return to the Apple stores in droves demanding to know why their favourite web sites don't work properly only to be fed a bunch of drivel by an Apple fanboi about how broken websites on the iPad is actually good for them.

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  5. well, actually. On the iPhone you have YouTube, Myspace & Facebook apps. So I'd expect to see the same on the iPad…

    They just present those sites in a different manner. Your point does hold weight when it comes to SMALLER sites that haven't accounted for all types of machines accessing them.

    So, you will have access and be able to use probably all MAJOR types of sites like your Myspace's, Facebook's, Amazon's, etc. if not through the browser via a usually free app… but the smaller sites are the ones people will be barking about if they bark at all.

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  6. well, actually. On the iPhone you have YouTube, Myspace & Facebook apps. So I'd expect to see the same on the iPad…

    They just present those sites in a different manner. Your point does hold weight when it comes to SMALLER sites that haven't accounted for all types of machines accessing them.

    So, you will have access and be able to use probably all MAJOR types of sites like your Myspace's, Facebook's, Amazon's, etc. if not through the browser via a usually free app… but the smaller sites are the ones people will be barking about if they bark at all.

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  7. This is just the continuation of an aggressive push towards "use our app store instead of playing flash games!"… got to agree completely with Sam_K.

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  8. They really are just trying to achieve the dreaded "vendor lock-in" for anything even vaguely app-like in nature that poeple might want to run on the iPad.

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  9. 1) Apple does what's good for Apple.

    but

    2) In this case, what's good for Apple is good for the web.

    You can't decry the iPhone/iPad for not being open platforms while ignoring that Flash is not an open platform.

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  10. 1) Apple does what's good for Apple.

    but

    2) In this case, what's good for Apple is good for the web.

    You can't decry the iPhone/iPad for not being open platforms while ignoring that Flash is not an open platform.

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  11. It's a control grab. Apple is making a grab for more control over the Internet. If you like that, it's because you like who's doing the grabbing.

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  12. It's a control grab. Apple is making a grab for more control over the Internet. If you like that, it's because you like who's doing the grabbing.

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  13. I already did that. It gives Apple total control over how apps are written and published to the iPad.

    "But that's just one device" you might say, but so was the iPod, and so was the iPhone, both of which have had an enormous impact on their respective markets.

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  14. I already did that. It gives Apple total control over how apps are written and published to the iPad.

    "But that's just one device" you might say, but so was the iPod, and so was the iPhone, both of which have had an enormous impact on their respective markets.

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  15. 1) The question was not directed at you.
    2) That is not responsive to my question.

    Apple has control over their platforms, no argument there. The OP's claim was that this move gives Apple tangible control over the *Internet*; a claim which needs explanation.

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  16. 1) The question was not directed at you.
    2) That is not responsive to my question.

    Apple has control over their platforms, no argument there. The OP's claim was that this move gives Apple tangible control over the *Internet*; a claim which needs explanation.

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  17. Maybe "power" is a better word than control. If you can decide that certain segments of the existing internet (i. e. Flash content) are not available to certain Internet customers (i. e. people using iPads), that gives you some power, right? Granted, it's really up to the consumer to give Apple that power by buying and using an iPad…much the same way that buying and using Windows gives Microsoft certain power.

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  18. Maybe "power" is a better word than control. If you can decide that certain segments of the existing internet (i. e. Flash content) are not available to certain Internet customers (i. e. people using iPads), that gives you some power, right? Granted, it's really up to the consumer to give Apple that power by buying and using an iPad…much the same way that buying and using Windows gives Microsoft certain power.

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  19. It depends on the way you look at it and where you are coming from on the theme really. In the long run attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m with you on this one.

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