Apple supports open web standards: yet they are neither open, nor standard

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

Apple has released a bunch of demo web applications at http://www.apple.com/html5/, which has got many people talking. However they are talking all the wrong things from Apple’s point of view.

Apple argues that since the iPad and iPhone support “open web standards” such as HTML5, these devices have no need for Flash support. There are however two fundamental flaws in this argument:

HTML5 is not a standard. HTML5 is currently in draft form: ie there is no agreed standard for HTML5 yet. Indeed, Adobe and Microsoft seem keen to ensure that the “Flash-killing” <canvas/> tag doesn’t make it into the standard, if and when that standard ever comes into being.

The demos require the user install Apple’s own browser: Safari, which is not an open source browser, ie the demos are the opposite of open. The reason for this is because the browsers used by 80% of web users (IE and Firefox) do not support the currently non-standard features of HTML5 well enough to run the demos. Again HTML5 is not yet the standard: either officially or as a de facto one.

Apple has made its decision to reject a true de facto web standard, namely Flash, and thus needs to push the world toward adopting a new Flash-free standard. Creating a bunch of demos that requires Apple’s own browser be installed to run them though is not the way to sell that future potential standard to the world.

Whether you love, loath or are indifferent to Flash, the simple fact remains: Flash support in the browser is essential to a genuine full web experience and it is simply not cost-effective to move away from using Flash to using a mix of solutions to meet all user’s needs. The iPad and iPhone users are reduced to second-class citizens in such a world and are destined to stay that way for some years yet.

Update
In response to Apple’s “who needs Flash when we have HTML5” claim, @jolyon_russ has laid down the gauntlet to all HTML5 fans: recreate a simple shape tween SWF in any form of HTML5 on any browser. Get proving Apple right, if you can…