HTML5 vs. Flash Mobile
In a briefing on Thursday, Adobe announced plans to abandon Flash for the mobile platform and commit fully to HTML5 development. This is significant for a number of reasons which I’ll discuss in a just a moment. It marks a longterm struggle between Adobe and Apple that Steve Jobs predicted would mean the demise of Flash on mobile websites. I have been on an anti-Flash soapbox for years now, and this is (in my view) a clear signal to drop whatever remaining Flash web properties or elements you may have and express yourself in other mobile-friendly ways.
Mobile is the future; Google has spoken this, Apple has spoken this (by not supporting Flash on their flagship products like iPhone, iPad and iPhone Touch), and now Adobe has (somewhat) reluctantly come to the table. More accurately, Adobe was already at the table, but they agreed to finally eat their peas and not continue to pound the table that Flash would rule. (As Wired magazine noted, this was an abrupt about-face for Adobe.) Flash stopped ruling 5-6 years ago when savvy business owners realized that as pretty as Flash is online, search engines can’t make heads or tails of the content; to a Google bot, a Flash website is a monolithic blog of clay as much as it is a website. Mobile, iPhones and Steve Jobs drove the final stake in the heart of Flash and Adobe mercifully has pulled the plug. I love pretty websites as much as the next guy,
HTML5 the Future for Business
So Flash website owners, HTML5 is the future, and coincidentally, we got into the HTML5 parade some time back so we’re well positioned to help you move into the present. As Adobe itself noted, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.” We completely agree; our mobile website designs are almost exclusively HTML5 mobile websites.
In the past several months, we have been hard at work testing and analyzing all the different mobile platforms and dissecting the benefits and ROI for business owners. It’s one thing to know you need to go to mobile, but it’s quite another to know what to do and how to get there. In that time, we have developed mobile websites using a variety of technologies including WordPress, PHP with CSS and HTML5 on our private network. There is a tremendous amount of junk out there with broken code, half-baked platforms and fly-by-night vendors… While WordPress is by far the best solution a business owner can deploy for a website, it is a bit “heavy” on the code for mobile and is really a different mindset than what is appropriate for mobile. I’ll be discussing this in future articles. For now, I want to make clear that I’m not anti-Wordpress; having developed over 500 WordPress websites, I can say with certainty and experience that there is nothing that provides the same level of design flexibility, search engine optimization and end user ease of use than WordPress.
HTML5 mobile superiority
In mobile, however, HTML5 exemplifies a superiority over other options in the same way WordPress is superior on the web. Adobe noted, HTML5 offers “great options for delivering compelling web and application experiences.” I agree with that. While PHP is a good second choice and is reasonably close to HTML5 in current functionality, HTML5 is a newer technology that offers much more of what a business owner needs and will be able to take advantage of as the mobile web continues to evolve. HTML5 has the best Return on Investment of any other mobile technology we have seen, so we are very excited to be committed to HTML5; and excited to see Adobe is too.
If you are a business owner with a Flash website, you may be wondering what people see when they come to your website on an Apple iPhone or similar mobile device. The short answer is, absolutely nothing — oftentimes, just a black nothingness. If you want to test your site yourself, visit Google’s GoMo. Fair warning: it may truly shock you when you realize how many customers you’ve thrown off the boat because they can’t even see your business on their mobile device.
The other unsettling thing to consider about Flash is how people are receiving content on the internet, and where these trends are going. More and more users are moving to mobile, and it’s estimated by 2013 / 2014 that mobile users will outnumber desktop & laptop users online. That will even further limit access to your customer base if your website is Flash. While we applaud Apple’s efforts to move the universe away from Flash — and rather enjoyed Steve Jobs’ rant against Flash — Apple had their own reasons for doing so — drained iPhone batteries, made Apple devices crash, etc. We have our own: it’s not good business, especially when you’re talking about online business. Particularly when you are talking about optimizing your online business, capturing leads and then converting those leads into a customer base. The mechanism for that conflicts with the thought process behind Flash; we have always opined that websites are workhorses, not pretty baubles. They are (or should be) profit mechanisms or income streams, not tax write-offs.
This is an exciting day for business owners online. HTML5 is a stable, robust platform that is only going to continue to get better and better. Join us as experts in HTML5 and explore the possibilities of mobile optimization for your business.