Monday, August 4th, 2008

The browser landscape; Alex’s Perspective

Category: Browsers

Flash can get to “ubiquitous” across the entire web with new capabilities in roughly 18 months and the Open Web faces a best case replacement time-frame of 5 years.

Reducing that differential from 42 months to zero is now the defining challenge of the Open Web. HTML is back in the hunt. Time to see how fast we can teach it remember the new tricks we’re so eager to teach.

This is a key comment in Alex’s perspective where he discusses his analysis on the browser market, and how it is changing… or isn’t changing.

It can be a little depressing, but if you are optimistic like Alex, we can work to make life better. How can we help?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 8:30 am
7 Comments

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I for one would love to know what features Alex thinks can happen in the next 18 months to help Flash be ubiqitous? And I ask this from both perspectives:
1. Flash already has 98.9% penetration… How much closer to 100% before it’s considered ubiqitous? What does “ubiqitous” really mean in the internet world (is it absolute or not) if it doesn’t that a technology is so widely *available* and *used* (two key concepts) that authors don’t really *need* (also a key concept) to worry so much about its availabilty when authoring content?

2. Is Flash ever going to be “ubiqitous” when you consider the mind-share of web authors, who for so long have had such a negative attitude towards it (and for good reason!)?

I guess what is most intriguing to me is that we seem to be in this whirlpool right now where things are violently and rapidly churning, but we’re not really coming to a new level, we just keep coming up with the same conclusions of the RIA delivery-platform (ie, browsers, plugins) landscape over and over again. When is someone or something going to break that swirl and make a real difference?

Do we really just have to keep waiting until old crappy browsers to fall off? That just seems like such a lame attitude, but unfortunately, I have to admit I’m an author and I have to play the same game that I simulataneously hate and have to love.

Comment by shadedecho — August 4, 2008

I haven’t asked Alex, but I believe what he meant by ubiquitous was the adoption of a new version Flash Player, not Flash’s web presence in general.
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With all the talk about web standards, it seems browser vendors are missing some opportunity to implement some ad-hoc technology that could rival Flash and set it apart from other browsers. What if Firefox could handle multimedia right out of the box? Perhaps it could “natively” handle Quicktime? And how about fixing that crippled, 15 year old single-file uploader? A guy can dream.

Comment by AnM8tR — August 4, 2008

I thought the point of Gears was to reduce the lag time to get new cross-platform features into browsers. With the exception of hacking/extending the CSS engine or redefining behavior of existing elements, I think Gears fits this bill. Witness the IE CANVAS extension done in ActiveX recently. I think Gears should have been providing this functionality and extending the WHATWG Canvas in directions that many people have been asking for (transformed text rendering, image processing ops like convolution kernels, etc)

Comment by cromwellian — August 4, 2008

>>I for one would love to know what features Alex thinks can happen in the next 18 months to help Flash be ubiquitous?

No, read the article again. He’s talking about turnover time. 18 months to get people from one generation of Flash to the next. Five years to get people from one generation of a browser to the next (especially IE).

Comment by Nosredna — August 4, 2008

@cromwellian,

I completely agree. Gears should put a native-speed Canvas and a modern, less buggy and piggy JavaScript (at least for the worker pool) into IE.

Comment by Nosredna — August 4, 2008

Safari already has native multimedia capabilities that rival flash (See ajaxian articles about webkit). Users of Safari, Firefox, and Opera have a turnover speed that rivals flash. The *only* thing holding back the open web is Internet Explorer. Witness the slow uptake of IE7 as evidence.

But why? Because while firefox, opera, etc are presented as no big deal application updates, IE upgrades are presented as big risky O/S updates. The facility to upgrade to IE7 is well hidden in layers of interface mystery. In the past, you had to have a “legitimate” copy of windows to even upgrade, and we all know WGA has given off a lot of false positives for illegitimacy. The WGA stuff only serves to increase the hassle for people unskilled with computers- which is most IE users.

So we have a combination of people that not only don’t know about and don’t care about what browser their computer has, and a frankly frightening upgrade path that involves either jumping through a lot of hoops for IE7, and being presented with the perceived risk of damaging their computer. Or they have to just *know* what firefox is, and why they want it, and where to get it.

This is indeed a big challenge, because Microsoft holds the keys to that gate, and I don’t think they want to open it. They are trying to push Silverlight after all.

Comment by Breton — August 4, 2008

Anyone have any idea regarding % Silverlight penetration?

Comment by Nosredna — August 4, 2008

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