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9/24/2009
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Adobe In The Crossfire

With all the excitement surrounding HTML 5 and Web development, Adobe is moving to make sure that Flash remains relevant.

Adobe's Flash technology has long played a major role in delivering compelling graphics online, but a shadow hangs over its future.

Three powerful technology companies -- Apple, Google, and Microsoft -- and open-source companies like Mozilla are working to make Flash unnecessary. At least that's the way some view the situation, although Adobe sees things differently.

In the case of Microsoft, it's a matter of wanting to see its own technology and tools, from Silverlight to Expression, gain market share at the expense of Flash and Adobe's Web development tools. Toward that end and to blunt the adoption of open-source development tools, Microsoft on Thursday launched WebsiteSpark, a program that offers Web developers free Microsoft development software for three years.

Microsoft has also committed to participating more actively in the HTML 5 standards debate. HTML 5 includes tags that allow Web sites to present audio, video and rich graphics without a plug-in technology like Flash.

Apple, which competes against Adobe with a number of its professional media applications, has stymied Adobe's mobile ambitions by refusing to allow Flash on the iPhone. Although Adobe's CEO has confirmed that his company is working to develop a version of Flash that meets Apple's restrictions on interpreted code and API access, Flash's absence from the iPhone has hurt. The iPhone's unprecedented success has proven that game makers don't need Flash, at least on the iPhone.

Google meanwhile has been declaring that "the Web has won" and has been evangelizing the possibilities of HTML 5. It has developed a version of YouTube that, unlike the live version, can display video using HTML 5 technology rather than Flash. It has been building hardware-accelerated 3D graphics capabilities into its Chrome browser and has backed the WebGL spec for "enabling hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in Web pages without the need for browser plug-ins."

Flash of course is the browser plug-in that's being referred to.

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