The debate Flash vs HTML5

Flash platform has been in existence for the past several years. Since 1996, Flash has a strong base of developers and users. As per the statistics provided by Adobe, Flash had reached 98% penetration in March 2010. In creating highly interactive browser based applications, it had a monopoly.

Apple has been promoting HTML5 as an alternative to Flash for video and other content on the iOS. It has cited performance reasons for not allowing the Flash runtime to be installed on iOS. Flash runtime is not available on the Apple’s iOS devices: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad but it can be compiled as a native iOS application through the Adobe iOS packager in Flash CS5 Professional.

Flash’s “CPU hogging” can also be considered as a contributing factor in Apple’s decision for not supporting the technology on their mobile devices. Flash is considered to be efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can’t. But, with the emergence of Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity of accelerating growth in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration. Since in 10.1 version, CPU utilization has decreased noticeably.

Flash has also the ability to specify measurements in sub-pixel increments, resulting in a more pleasant appearance of Flash web sites. Comparatively, HTML5 is browser dependant and hence inconsistent. Though Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari implement HTML5 to a large degree, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer does not support HTML5 outside of version 9.

Flash offers webcam and DRM support, while HTML and related technologies currently do not yet. There is however “device support” (device API) added to the HTML5 specification, which allows for videoconferencing, access to webcams, microphones, USB-thumbdrives and other USB- or serial devices.

According to Adobe, 85% of the most-visited web sites use Flash, 75% of web video is viewed using the Flash Player, 98% of enterprises rely on the Flash Player, and 70% of web games are made in Flash. In contrast, some video sites, including YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv, have implemented a degree of experimental support for HTML5 video. Flash is not an open standard. It is controlled by Adobe Systems, but HTML5 is largely controlled by a committee (WHATWG), which is made up of three companies. Apple is one of them.

Another reason for poor performance of Flash is that, some Flash developers code their files wrongly. It can also be a problem with “HTML5″ animations.

HTML5 technology is growing as an alternative standard, but that doesn’t mean that Flash is coming to an end. HTML5 should not be considered a replacement technology for Flash. It is just a competitive platform.