Casey already told us about how an iPhone ad was banned in the UK for "misleading consumers" about providing "just the internet", and based on how many ZOMG! No Flash Vidz! comments we get, I'm going to go out on a limb and say most people probably share the belief that MobileSafari - ( Flash + Java) != the internet.


But allow me to retort. As a long time web (and Flash) developer, however, I'm calling shenanigans on that, and on the UK Advertising Standards Authority. Flash and Java are factually and empirically NOT part of the open, standards based Internet (i.e. HTML, CSS, Javascript/AJAX). Flash and Java, along with things like SilverLight, Real, ActiveX, and a host of other proprietary add-ons are plugins, extensions, and otherwise additions to the Internet -- with all the benefits and drawbacks that go along with that.

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Okay, so Flash, Java, et. al. allow for some neat multi-media effects and interactivity (though HTML 5 and CSS are catching up), and some measure of portability (though never as much as they claim), but they bring in additional security and cross-platform problems as well.

The web is supposed to be a structured container (CSS) through which content flows (HTML), which is why MobileSafari can subtly reformat font sizes, line wraps, and other elements to suit the smaller screen and multi-touch interface. As an open standard, Apple can also integrate their own containers and attributes to, for example, define the screen size for rendering.

Flash? Kinda sorta sometimes if the developer puts the effort in. Being proprietary (even "open" proprietary), however, Apple can't exactly make changes to the source to, you know, make a version that's not as bloated and greedy as Adobe has long allowed the Mac OS X version of Flash to remain. To prove that point, Apple has significantly developed the plugin they do own, Quicktime, creating Quicktime X to better fit their mobile vision of the future.

All this to say that there are several very good reasons why the iPhone doesn't support Flash, Java, and the other plugins. They may be reasons that can eventually be overcome with newer/better technology, or reasons some people may even disagree with, but for the UK to randomly pick those two plugins as being "the internet" just because they happen to be ubiquitous (compared the aforementioned Silverlight, for example) is as capricious as it is wrong headed.

Apple, as they themselves rightly point out, is delivering the full standards-based Internet to the iPhone. Any site coded to conform to those standards will work just fine on the iPhone. Any site deviating, or depending on plugin extensions won't (as anyone whose ever tried to get a secure installation to "just add this Java widget" or "just download this ActiveX control" to enable some web conferencing or like utility will all too readily tell you).

Bottom-line, the UK is showing ignorance of the real web. Sure, I wants my vidz as much as the next Viddler, but I understand the issues behind these technologies, which is something the Advertising Standards Authority might want to do before banning commercials, right?

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