Steve Jobs may think Adobe Flash is dead, but the slew of tablets, smartphones and even microprocessors introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show say otherwise.
The tablet and the smartphone rollouts have come from several companies. Some are traditional smartphone heavyweights, such as Research in Motion, while others are less so, such as Sony.
RIM unveiled the Playbook, while Motorola trotted out the Xoom and smartphone it says can replace a notebook computer. Sony said it plans to be the world's second largest tablet producer. LG has its own version of a tablet. The list goes on. But a common feature is the inclusion of Flash 10.1. But all of them touted the ability to run Flash 10.1 content.
The reason they give is that customers want the ability to access the whole Internet, without the restrictions inherent in the iPad. During the press conference at which Motorola introduced the Xoom, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said exactly that.
The processor makers have also gotten in on the act. At the unveiling of the Tegra 2, Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, used two popular web sites, YouTube.com and Google Finance, to show what happens when Flash doesn't work. The ability to run that kind of content was key to showing the Tegra 2's strengths.
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It isn't at all clear that any of the tablets can displace the position of the iPad. The BlackBerry Playbook and Motorola Xoom both were both promoted as friendlier to enterprise users, as was the HP Slate, but that might not be enough for any of them to become the iPad killer that Apple's competitors are hoping for.
In April 2010, Jobs gave the reasons for not including Flash in a blog post.
He said Flash video wasn't necessary, as the H.264 is used by many web sites and is compatible with many mobile phones, and that Flash negatively affects battery life because it decodes the video in software rather than hardware.
While that may be true, the other mobile device makers aren't betting on it as they continue to keep supporting Flash. Google's new mobile OS, Android 3.0, known as Honeycomb, is also Flash-compatible and there are no indications that will change.
Jobs may be ahead of his time, as he was when he designed Mac PCs and laptops without floppy drives, and when Apple shipped the Mac Book Air models without CD ROM drives. But it is also clear that Flash is no flash in the pan, and will stay around for a few more years.