The launch of the Apple iPad--which begins shipping this week--has sparked a debate over the necessity and value of Adobe Flash. The lack of Flash support has been attacked as a weakness of Apple's tablet device; while others claim dependence on a proprietary technology like Flash is a weakness of the Web in general.
Much of the focus of the Flash debate has centered on whether or not the complete Web experience is possible without Flash. Specifically, sites like the New York Times, and other online media sites rely on Flash for advertising. Viewing such sites without Flash support results in blank boxes appearing where the Flash content should go.
Obviously the advertisers want their ads to be seen, but the impact on the actual Web experience of the end-user based solely on that is questionable at best. However, there are thousands of small and medium businesses that have paid large sums of money to have sites developed almost strictly in Flash. No Flash support means that these businesses may as well not have a Web presence.
Those businesses are facing the dire consequences of building a site based on a proprietary technology. The vast majority of devices and Web browsers have a functional Flash plugin of some sort, but the millions of Apple iPhone--and soon iPad--users, as well as the rapidly growing market using 64-bit Web browsers do not have a way to view Flash content.
Arguably, those businesses should be striving to transition from Flash to a standards-based approach capable of delivering a similar experience--like HTML5. However, good Web developers aren't cheap and small and medium businesses don't have the kind of disposable budget required to simply redesign their Web site from the ground up to remove the dependence on Flash. That transition will take some time.
If your business is one of those with a Web site reliant on Adobe Flash, though, it is still possible for you to engage the Apple iPhone and iPad audience, and bridge the gap from Flash to HTML5 in the meantime using the newly launched Brightcove Experience for HTML5.
Bob Mason, Brightcove's chief technology officer said in a press release. "The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 gives us the opportunity to take all of the knowledge we've gained about real world success with online video and apply it to this new open standard."
Basically, businesses that use the Brightcove platform can leverage the Brightcove Experience for HTML5 feature to automatically detect the requesting platform and direct traffic to the appropriate content. The Brightcove press release explains "The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 provides support for intelligent device detection, playlist rendering, and playback of H.264 encoded video content. Customers are using the Brightcove Experience for HTML5 today to build iPad-ready websites."
The press release continues "Over the course of this year, Brightcove will expand the Brightcove Experience for HTML5 to include full support for customization and branding of the player environment, advertising, analytics, social sharing, and other capabilities currently found in Brightcove experience solutions for other platforms."
I still recommend that businesses start looking at how to transition off of Flash dependence and embrace the HTML5 standard, but I understand that is a Herculean undertaking and can take some time. As a temporary solution, businesses can make use of this solution from Brightcove to make sure their Web sites are accessible to the iPhone and iPad masses.