Clover’s Week: Gone in a Flash

Adobe is placing an emphasis on HTML5, rather than its 20-year old Flash leaving TV having to second guess the world of the web, writes Julian Clover.

Once upon a time everything seemed to be Flash with Adobe quoting take-up figures in the mid 90s as to the number of PCs (and Macs) where the video enabling technology had been installed.

While the TV world was worrying about the arrival of Google TV, two things happened. First Apple decided that Flash wasn’t a particularly important component for its iPhone and iPad devices and, quietly, HTML5 emerged as a new content presentation language.

The Apple decision had a number of implications, not least for anyone trying to do their online shopping at Ikea, or any other of the number of shops that used Flash to display their wares. They like YouTube needed their own app that was native to the Apple iOS. An ecosystem was born.

But if it was Apple that helped pull away from Flash, it was HTML5 that helped publishers pull away from Apple, as was the case with the Financial Times. The pink ‘un was not enamoured with Apple’s pricing policy, so by going HTML5, it was able to produce an electronic version of the paper that worked cross platform.

As part of its announced refocusing away from Flash and towards TV a somewhat ambiguous statement was released: “We believe the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a Web browsing experience”

It was pointed out to me by one correspondent that you can build Flash applications as well as install Flash as a plugin in Web browsers. So arguably those such as YouView, and more immediately the Liberty Global Horizon project that both planned to include Flash as part of the mix can carry on as they are. There will be other evolving technologies to worry about.

As the owner of a first generation Apple TV box I am missing another related trend. The ability through Apple’s Airplay to move video watched on the iPad directly to the TV, as is the case with the second-generation device. Anorak readers will note there is a hack to achieve this in the orginal box, but it isn’t granny friendly, and doesn’t work properly anyway.

Sky has the relevant icon on its Sky Go TV anywhere app and the same is true for the Global iPlayer, though curiously not on the domestic version of the catch-up TV app.

Those who like a trend should watch this one, but TV should be wary of drifting too far into PC land.