Flash Solutions for Non "iPad-Ready" Sites

Apple took its crusade against Adobe Flash to new, not-so-subtle heights this week by promoting a list of "iPad-Ready" sites--meaning "sites that don't use Adobe Flash." But, there are still millions of Web sites that do, in fact, rely on the proprietary Flash platform to deliver content and online advertising.

The "iPad-Ready" site explains that the "iPad features Safari, a mobile web browser that supports the latest web standards--including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript." Fair enough, but the war between Apple and Adobe over Flash comes with some collateral damage--the small and medium businesses that are heavily invested in Flash content and don't have the time or budget to shift gears overnight just to accommodate Apple.

The flip side to the collateral damage, though, is that one company's problem is the next company's opportunity. The fallout from the Flash war is the creation of a nascent market for services that can bridge the gap from Flash to HTML5 and enable businesses to use a sort of "Bandaid-approach" to deliver content on devices like the iPad while working to update site content and online advertising to be compliant with Web standards.

One approach is to simply detect that the request is coming from an iPad or iPhone, and then automatically redirect the traffic to deliver an HTML5-equivalent of the Flash-based content displayed on other platforms. Two companies, Greystripe and Brightcove, are essentially doing just that to enable businesses to take advantage of the iPad and iPhone market without having to simply abandon Flash.

Greystripe fills the need from an online advertising perspective. The Greystripe Web site explains "Greystripe's Advertising Network dynamically delivers full screen and banner ads through mobile games and applications on the iPhone, Java and Android platforms. Greystripe's ad formats include iFlash and iFlash custom units, which serve Flash ads to the iPhone for the first time ever. iFlash ad formats are based on patent-pending transcoding technology which enables Flash to run on the iPhone."

Brightcove takes a similar approach, but with a different focus. While Greystripe delivers Flash-based online advertising to the iPad and iPhone, Brightcove enables its customers to stream Flash-based video content.

Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove chairman and chief executive officer is quoted in a Brightcove press release stating "The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 fills the gap between the current playback capabilities of the emerging standard and what our customers need to operate successful online video businesses."

Neither solution is free, but they are both significantly cheaper than scrapping all Flash content and developing equivalent content in HTML5. It is also probably less costly than simply ignoring the iPad and iPhone markets and leaving Apple and Adobe to work the Flash issue out.

Greystripe CEO Michael Chang admitted to me in a phone interview that this market has a limited lifespan. Eventually, the Web will transition to standards-based content--like HTML5--if only by attrition. Flash may not fade away, but it will most likely evolve to fill some different niche not addressed by HTML5.

If your business has built its online advertising presence, or video content library on the Adobe Flash platform, you may want to take a deeper look at the solutions offered by these two companies. Just because your site isn't "iPad-ready" doesn't mean you have to surrender the iPad market.

Or, you can just hope that Apple and Adobe call a truce and Apple lets Flash content be delivered natively on the iPad and iPhone. How long can you hold your breath?

Tony Bradley is co-author of Unified Communications for Dummies . He tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW . You can follow him on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com .

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