Apple chief executive Steve Jobs recently issued a remarkable press release, "Thoughts on Flash." For those unfamiliar with the debate, the Flash in question is Adobe Flash, and Jobs' 'thoughts' are a defense of Apple's decision not to support Flash on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Jobs on Flash video, specifically:
Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.
As an iPad and iPhone owner/user, I can attest that this is an accurate reflection of my experience on both devices. The only time I encounter Flash issues are with older websites using Flash for user interface. Many of those sites have mobile versions, and their owners are quickly implementing code to direct iPads automatically to the Flash-free mobile versions. The big video sites already support HTML5/h.264 players (or even better, native Apps). The smaller sites are scrambling to convert their players and content.
So what does this battle between Adobe and Apple mean for corporate video? If you're using a player or service that already supports h.264, nothing. You're all set, and your videos most likely already work on Apple (and other manufacturers') devices. If you're just getting into corporate video, or are already hosting video using a Flash-only player, you might want to contact prospective hosts and streaming services to determine their future plans. Over 1 million iPads have already been sold, they're terrific for video, and they're being adopted in droves by higher income early adopters (a group most businesses are eager to target with corporate video). You can probably get away with Flash video for now, but you should also develop a strategy as soon as possible.