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What Steve Jobs said – but also didn’t say

May 3, 2010
Steve Jobs says no flash for you
Steve as the Flash Nazi. Are apps still on the menu?

From my vantage point the apps bubble seems to be bursting – at least a little bit anyway.  It’s not too difficult to discern my opinion of apps, as I just referred to the app boom as a bubble.  To me apps are temporarily bridging the gap between the true capabilities of mobile devices and the future capabilities of the web browsers that exist on those same devices.

It’s a scenario almost identical to what occurred in the late 90’s and early 00’s with the browser on the PC.  Remember ActiveX controls and thick clients?  This is the exact sequence of events that gave rise to Flash.  In case you missed it, Steve Jobs last week publicly announced what he thinks is the future of Flash – there isn’t one.  What was between the lines of his statement is that the future for apps is just as limited.  He pointed out that HTML 5 can, for the most part, equal the capabilities of Flash.  So, what does that mean for apps?

Just like the PC world, there will surely always be a place for apps, but that place is not front and center like it is now.  They will be relegated for uses where the browser isn’t capable of providing the necessary security or data layer access that the browser can now provide thanks to HTML 5.

Before apps are relegated to that level of specialty though, I think there is still somewhere they are very much needed, and that’s a role similar to that of device driver.  The biggest holes in HTML 5’s powerful capabilities are its inability to directly communicate with accelerometers, cameras and GPS on mobile devices using standardized methods.  There are draft standards and various individual efforts attempting to create some organization in this area, but it’s still falling short of what it could and should be.  What if device manufacturers supplied drivers on their devices that provided a standardized API for use by the web browser?

If you’re unfamiliar with the capabilities of HTML 5 take a look at Robert Scoble’s interview with the guys at NextStop.  Seeing what they created gives the impression that the browser is now very near the capabilities of device specific applications.

John Epperson is a co-founder and President of Ruxter. Having worked in various fields across the technology spectrum in the last 20+ years, John has gained a broad understanding of technology. Together with the Ruxter team he has developed a web-based application that allows anyone to quickly and easily harness the power of the mobile internet. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.

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