Opera CEO quotes on Flash

Yesterday there was a newspaper article titled “Opera: Web standards could eclipse Flash”. This prompted a big debate on Slashdot — about CSS vs TABLEs and such. 😉

I stayed out of it because I didn’t know what Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner actually said. Turns out there’s a transcript, and it shows that the headline was picked out from a part at the end of the interview. After a long section on widgets, then on browser competition and HTML5, this came up, before being closed out by app stores and Palm Pre:

(Q) In your presentation earlier, you were talking about what HTML 5 can do as a replacement for Flash.

(A) I think you can do most things with the web standards today. In some ways, you may say you don’t need Flash. On the other hand, I like Adobe — they’re a nice company. I hope they flourish and do well, so this is not about killing Flash. I think Flash will be around for a very, very long time, but I think it’s natural that web standards also evolve to be richer. You can then choose whether you’d like to do it through web standards or whether you’d like to use Flash. What we definitely don’t need is more proprietary technology — that’s the main thing. We have Flash. It’s there — fine. Let’s not get anything more.

(Q) Are you talking about Flash becoming more niche?

(A) It’s more of a choice of what you like doing.

(Q) Where’s the line between what web standards can do and what Flash can do?

(A) You can do everything, I believe, through web standards — you don’t need to use something else. But there might be something where you believe Flash is better; then you choose to use Flash.

He seems mistaken to me — comparing a proposed spec with an existing worldly ability, comparing something minority browsers may make practical in the future with specific features Flash innovated in the past, all while ignoring further capabilities Flash already provides in the world’s browsers, and the rate of innovation it promises to continue fostering in the future — but Flash definitely wasn’t the main point of his interview.

I’m sure the reporter made much better ad revenue with this choice of title, though. 😉

(Browser vendors have an interesting perspective. They focus on what they themselves can code. They tend not to focus on the real issues of how realworld developers can deliver to realworld audiences. Adobe tries to bridge those silos, removing barriers to creators publishing their work. Different priorities.)

Anyway, no big deal here… much of yesterday’s debate seemed to be more about online drama than about what the Opera CEO actually said. Time will correct many of yesterday’s arguments…. 😉

3 Responses to Opera CEO quotes on Flash

  1. Rosyna says:

    Hmm, your last few paragraphs seem to state nothing like WebKit or Acid tests exist.
    Specifically
    They tend not to focus on the real issues of how realworld developers can deliver to realworld audiences.
    As for the rest… there is indeed a reason for HTML5 and canvas and things like that… to replace Flash in places where it would just be easier to use something else (like ads).
    Also, the Flash performance on Mac OS X is really, really bad. The canvas and JS support is much, much more optimized.
    [jd sez: For Mac, compare AIR running on a freshly started system to that within different browser brands. I’m not sure why you say “HTML5’s reason” is “to replace Flash”… seems like a low goal.]

  2. Rosyna says:

    For Mac, compare AIR running on a freshly started system to that within different browser brands.
    AIR uses WebKit… http://learn.adobe.com/wiki/display/air/Developer+FAQ#DeveloperFAQ-IsthisthesameWebKitprojectthattheSafaribrowseronMacOSXandtheKHTMLBrowserinKDEuse%3F
    So on a Mac using Safari there is mostly no difference. I guess I am not understanding how AIR would differ from Safari (other than AIR using an older build of WebKit).
    If AIR uses updated WebKit source, then HTML5 and canvas and ilk should be supported in AIR. Are they not?
    And for replacing flash, I just meant for things commonly using Flash (such as video), it might be easier to use HTML5 in some circumstances.

  3. Kevin Newman says:

    I don’t think standards can replace proprietary extensions entirely – that’s just not how the process works. Whether those extensions belong to Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Opera, or Mozilla (yes, they have proprietary extensions too – even if they give them away for free), that is where innovation happens. Standards come later, and both are important steps.
    This is actually ideal. It means none of the proprietary vendors have to wait for the standardization process to finish before they try stuff out – the industry tried to front load the standards process once before, and we almost ended up with xhtml 2.0 instead of html 5.
    That said, I’d love to see Adobe participate with and implement more open standards in Flash (better html support, OGG vorbis and Theora support, etc.), as well as opening more of the source of Flash Player up in a way that is compatible with open source methodologies (or at the very least helping with validation testing – face it, swfdec and gnash have already “forked” Flash). An open source Flash Player framework, with some open source components (Tamerin, the audio layer for linux) and binary “blob” components (Saffron Engine, VP6), along with a robust testing suite, would be great.
    I’d also love to see Adobe continue to innovate in new areas like FXG, and utilize great proprietary tech like the Saffron Type Engine – maybe something 3D (it’s all the rage right now) – that thing rocks! Let open source do what it does best, which is to formalize, test and codify de-facto and official standards.
    Individuals on both sides of the proprietary/open source debate can be pretty stubborn with their particular perspectives. I think Adobe is uniquely positioned to bridge that gap, if they make the right arguments.