HTML 5 - and, by extension, the iPad as a viable platform for browsing the full-fat web - got another high profile supporter this week as document sharing site Scribd pledged to move away from Adobe's Flash technology.
As reported over on TechCrunch
, Scribd has started the work of completely removing its reliance on Flash to share high-quality digital versions of books, magazines, and other documents in favour of the open HTML 5 standard - without losing the fidelity and print-accuracy of the original Flash implementation.
The move is important in a number of ways: firstly, it gives Apple further ammunition for its "Flash is dead
" stance vocalised by Steve Jobs recently while making Scribd accessible on its increasingly popular iPad slate, for which no Flash Player is available; secondly, it reduces the reliance on proprietary technologies that can bog down the web, potentially opening Scribd up for a wide range of devices that cannot - or will not - play back Flash content acceptably.
Jared Friedman, Scribd's chief technology officer and co-founder, told TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld that the company isn't taking the decision to scrap "three year of Flash development
" lightly, but is choosing to "[bet] the company on HTML 5 because we believe HTML 5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash.
Currently, 200,000 of the site's most popular documents have already been converted to HTML 5 - and plans to convert the remainder of its content in the near future, after which it will become completely Flash free.
While support for HTML 5 is a good thing - especially for users who are unable to run a Flash Player plugin - the company risks alienating some users who are unable to use the new standard. Internet Explorer 9, which promises to bring full HTML 5 support to Microsoft's Windows platform, will not be available
for Windows XP - forcing users onto an alternative browser if they want to use the future Flash-free version of Scribd, and potentially doing even more damage to Microsoft's sinking share
of the browser market.
Do you agree that HTML 5 is the way forward and that Flash is an anachronism that is irrelevant on the modern web, or should companies be careful before they ditch a proven - if proprietary - system? Share your thoughts over in the forums