Holding Sway

Glenn Fleishman, concluding his piece for The Economist on the demise of Flash for the mobile web:

One consequence of Adobe’s move might be to spur on HTML5. As our columnist recently discussed, the up-and-coming web standard — partially implemented in many current releases of web browsers — incorporates a number of Flash components. Browsers are becoming more sophisticated in handling animation (for games and charting), audio and video as a result. Widespread adoption of the new standard is likely to make it impossible for any one company to hold sway over online interaction. It may be too soon for Apple to gloat.

I was nodding in agreement with Fleishman until this paragraph. I just don’t get this. Remember Jobs’s “Thoughts on Music”? Jobs wrote:

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Critics called bullshit on this, arguing that Apple liked its DRM wrapper for music, because that’s what kept users locked into iTunes, and that Jobs claimed Apple would embrace no-DRM music only because he knew the major music labels would never agree to it. But when the music labels did, in fact, agree to drop DRM, Apple did exactly what Jobs said it would: embraced it. And iTunes’s success continued unabated.

I don’t see how Apple could be any more clear in its actions or words that it supports and encourages the growth of a truly open web. Apple’s goal is simply to provide the best experience, period, both with native apps (closed) and the web (open).

Friday, 11 November 2011