Excellent, Objective Summary of HTML5 vs. Flash in the Economist

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By | 2017-02-23T00:47:52+00:00 April 16th, 2010|Blogs|Comments Off on Excellent, Objective Summary of HTML5 vs. Flash in the Economist

I don’t agree with all the conclusions, but the Economist’s Tech View presents an excellent, objective summary of Apple’s true motivations in the Flash vs. HTML5 wars, and the potential results of Google open-sourcing VP8. Great comments, too, amazing how this debate has become global. Read all about it, here.


#1Craig SeemanSaid this on 04/17/2010 At 12:04 pm

The single most important concept people really miss is that Apple is a business. In order to create new products they need to grow revenue.

Would I love to see Flash run more efficiently on the Mac? Would I love to see Flash on the iDevices? Sure, Yes. These would not be good decisions for Apple's business though.

There's a very long and sound history of Apple being hurt when highly dependent on third party programs and utilities. Whether it's Adobe, Avid, Microsoft or Google, at some point they've done serious damage and in some cases threatened Apple's survival as a business.

Jobs, since his return to Apple, has developed a strategy of threat deterrence. This does not mean severing relationships with the above but dealing with those relationships from a position of strength. As Apple's devices have become a valuable commodity that other companies would like to benefit from, Apple has decided to define those terms to ensure such relationships are to its own benefit.

#2Craig SeemanSaid this on 04/17/2010 At 12:31 pm

There are some things the article mentions that I haven't seen explained clearly yet. How does open sourcing On2VP8 benefit Google's business and revenue model? To the best of my knowledge Google makes money through advertising revenue. This happens through the dominance of Google Search, Android, YouTube, etc. The more your eyes are on Google products the more advertising dollars they can attract.

The only speculative answer I can think of is that if Open Source On2VP8 hastened HTML5 so that Google could maintain its dominance in eyeballs for advertising by getting those iDevice eyeballs. In other words the advertisers benefit (thus Google benefits) since the ads will be seen on all devices.

Keep in mind that if HTML5 has a long way to go On2VP8 will have a longer way to go. For businesses that use media, it's much easier to stick to a single codec which can be repurposed for Flash, Silverlight (and WMP12 now), Quicktime, HTML5. Currently that H.264. This is what On2VP8 adoption would be up against.

I'd love to hear other explanations about how open sourcing On2VP8 helps Google's revenue and whether it's market penetration would happen fast enough to make it viable rather than another hurdle.

#3Jan OzerSaid this on 04/18/2010 At 11:08 amIn reply to #2Craig:

Thanks for weighing in. I think Apple's strategy is perfectly sound, and I think it's smart that they cloak it in language like standards support and by sensationalizing Flash's negatives. I just think more people should understand their true motivation which is what the Economist and you point out.

I have no idea why Google would open source VP8. The best speculation I've heard is that anything that promotes the use of the web (whether it's more video or not) helps Google. If VP8 settles the HTML5 codec war (the theory goes), more folks will use video which is more eyeballs for Google to monetize. Sounds pretty far fetched to me.

I'm totally with you on H.264 - the last thing the world needs is another codec thrown into the mix.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Jan#4asdfSaid this on 04/21/2010 At 07:08 am

I have no idea why Google would open source VP8.

I like this article on the topic: http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=292

Personally I think it's the 3rd reason given in the article.

3.  Trump card.  Google may be worried about the future; if H.264 does succeed in eliminating all competition in the web marketplace, it would be quite possible that MPEG-LA would attempt to abuse their position and start charging fees for web usage.  Perhaps MPEG-LA needs a good “scare” to make sure they never consider such a thing.  Software monoculture is dangerous.

#5JanSaid this on 04/21/2010 At 08:09 am


Nice thoughtful post - thanks for pointing it out. I have no freakin' idea what Google plans to do, but the consensus opinion seems to be that they will open source the technology. We'll see.

Thanks again for writing in.