ANALYSIS

Everyone, it seems, from journalists and bloggers to software companies with vested interests, wants to declare a winner in the three-way “war” between Flash, HTML5 and Silverlight.

But this is the software development industry. With few exceptions has any one technology emerged as the homogeneous solution to enterprise problems. And in the mobile/rich Internet space, things are no different.

The hubbub began earlier this year when Apple refused to allow Adobe’s Flash Player onto the iPad, and also said that cross-platform frameworks and code translators couldn’t be used to build native apps. While Flash had already been banned from the small-screen iPhone, keeping it off the large-screen iPad forced many Web developers to follow Apple’s embrace of HTML5. It’s ironic, in that Apple’s platform is completely closed and locked down, yet the company backs this open standard. While there’s still no Flash runtime on the iPad, after some hue and cry, Apple rewrote its rules to allow applications built with third-party frameworks and translators to be sold in its App Store.

Meanwhile, Microsoft created a tempest in a teakettle at its Professional Developers Conference when Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, indicated that HTML5 would be the technology of choice for cross-platform delivery of rich applications. Some took that to mean Microsoft was abandoning Silverlight, its entry in the RIA field. Later attempts to clarify Muglia’s remarks were met mostly with amusement.

Since all this kerfuffle, Adobe has restated its position that it will continue to advance Flash for mobile platforms. “We have a broad history of support for multiple platforms, and we will continue to do so,” said Anup Murarka, director of product marketing at Adobe. “The idea that you’ll see a single technology take over is just wrong.” And indeed, you can find Flash running on many Android-based smartphones.

Murarka said Adobe has “relationships with 19 of the top 20 OEMs to put Flash on their devices.” He added that the company delivers against 5-10% of all smartphones this year, and expects to be at 20-30% next year, and around 50% in 2012.

Advancing Flash
Murarka said that while the World Wide Web Consortium wrangles with the HTML5 specification, Adobe, through its OpenScreen initiative, is working on video performance, 3D graphics, peer-to-peer networking in Flash, and new tools, resources and services for developers. “Flash wouldn’t exist without the browser. We have worked alongside HTML for decades and dealt with the evolution of HTML. As long as we deliver value above and beyond HTML, developers will continue to be interested,” he said.