Excuse me? That was probably your first reaction to the headline. If you’re asking yourself what Facebook’s long awaited iPad app has to do with Flash, bear with me. You need some context first. The point being: Facebook’s new HTML5 based web application for the iPad will get developers to make HTML5 apps instead of their current Flash versions, giving a bigger incentive to companies to just forsake Flash entirely.
If you use an iPad, you already know there is no official Facebook application. You can get third-party apps like Friended or Friendly, but there is no official app like the ones for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. At the beginning of June, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler found out that Facebook is working on a Project Spartan, a way to bring the biggest social network in the world to the iPad without making an iPad application.
Facebook’s HTML5 Strategy
Yes, they’re making a web application in HTML5. Facebook’s CTO Bret Taylor told the attendees of the Inside Social Aps InFocus 2011. conference in January that they would be focusing on HTML5, but making an exclusively web-based application for the iPad? Hold your horses. The New York Times’ Nick Bilton says that Facebook is making an app that will be able to for example shoot photos and videos directly from the iPad’s built-in cameras. So a native iPad?
While we can’t be sure until Facebook launches something, there seem to be two things in the works. One, a native iPad application that is a consumer-focused product made since the iPad made up 95% of the tablet market in late 2010., and a second, longterm project to expand Facebook’s ecosystem to tablets in HTML5.
What Does All This Have To Do with Flash?
Think about it. When we talk about tablets, we’re talking about iPads: no offense Android and BlackBerry. Most of the popular Facebook applications include some sort of Flash component, used to add interactivity. Well, the simple fact is that can’t have Flash on the iPad: it’s not that the Facebook web-based application will be in HTML5, it’s that the third-party applications in it will have to be HTML5 as well.
So what happens when companies like Zynga and Huffington Post start replacing Flash with HTML5 in their apps? They develop new internal practices, new development capacities and most importantly, decide to use a new technology in their projects. If we’re making a HTML5 based Facebook application, why do we need a Flash based one as well? We’ll just make one version.
With projects such as Ro.me promoting HTML5, its only a matter of time until we see the shift from Flash. Its not a matter of technology, but of the right reasons to shift development from Flash to HTML5. I’d call Facebook’s reportedly 750 million users a pretty good reason to consolidate development in HTML5 while killing off Flash in the process. At least, that’s what might happen 😉 Do you think Facebook’s HTML5 strategy as the biggest social network in the world will influence the adoption of HTML5 in spite of Flash?