Like anyone at all involved in the business of making websites work, I’ve witnessed and participated in a number of intense debates this week regarding the future of Flash. Apple’s iPad will not be supporting Flash, and many have speculated that this is the beginning of the end for Flash. Others argue that Flash is going nowhere, saying that Adobe could turn the tables and destroy Apple in a heartbeat, simply by refusing to release new CS products for Mac. There are several excellent articles on both sides of the issue, but Jefferey Zeldman says it best:
“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.”
When Apple and Adobe fight, standards win. Sing that now to the tune of Particle Man by They Might Be Giants (and forget, like I did, about that hater Triangle Man always winning everything). Like the ubiquitous Particle Man, standards -should- be everywhere. Thanks to iPad, standards may finally begin to find the priority they should have had with every designer all along.
Developers will still use Flash, but they’ll have to use standards for their foundation. Without meaningful markup, a Flash site is just a castle in the clouds. Not everyone is capable of finding their way there.
Apple didn’t create this problem. Flash-only sites have been alienating audiences for more than a decade now. iPad will simply increase the number affected, and in the process will hopefully inspire these developers to come down to earth. Once their site does its job regardless of platform particulars, they can build from there as much as they’d like. Getting there might be a rough ride for the plugin-centric, but in the end the web just might be be a more stable place, and that benefits everyone.