The irony of me lauding how a closed proprietary device is helping oust a proprietary technology is thick, but honestly I couldn’t be happier that Flash seemingly isn’t supported by the iPad. Gruber has written much about Flash and Apple, and he’s a clever guy, so if you haven’t read his stuff yet, you should do yourself a favor and consume his site start to finish, but here’s my take.
I’m not a fanatic when it comes to open vs. proprietary, which should be evident, my Apple fetish taken into account, but in my mind Flash has no home on the net of the future, and I’m happy to see Apple inching it out bit by bit. Yes, it crashes a lot for me, but that’s not the reason I don’t like it, I just want to see the internet of the future absolutely open, and Flash simply won’t allow that. Furthermore, we’re slowly reaching a point where modern web technologies will overlap Flash’s unique functionality.
So why are people vying for Flash on the Apples devices? What is it that Flash delivers that people want so bad? I was tweeting with Matt Brett, who said he’d buy one for his daughter if it had had Flash, for casual games; but I just don’t see what it is that Flash can deliver as a browser plugin, that can’t otherwise be delivered in much more superior ways as apps, be they compiled Flash applications or not.
Besides whatever technical or economical reasons Apple has for not wanting to include Flash on their closed devices, there’s another major issue I never see anyone address, which is very applicable for those pesky flash games.
How do you click-drag on a multi-touch device? Yes, you can concoct some inane scheme (double-click, but hold on the last click and then drag… or something), but that’s exactly what the iPhone and iPad aren’t about. There’s no elegant way to bring over those games to that user interface, you have to build them for it because it straight-up simply is not the same as keyboard and mouse.
Furthermore, and this is really important, for everyone involved, the app store is a working marketplace, which the web isn’t. It’s proven insanely hard to get people to pay for content on the web, but for various reasons people don’t mind dropping gold for apps on the app store. As a smalltime game developer, despite whatever approval process problems the app store has had, this is a much better deal on almost all accounts. It’s easier to develop for, being as it is almost console-like, and it’s a working, proven marketplace.
In fact, hey, it pretty much is a console experience.
So what is it that people want with Flash? What is this coveted thing that Flash does that people can’t live without?
I just don’t get it.