Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple vs. Adobe: Is Flash dying?

May 2, 2010: 6:28 AM ET

The stats seem to support Steve Jobs' contention that Adobe's video format is fading fast

Source: Encoding.com via TechCrunch

In the Thoughts on Flash essay that Steve Jobs posted last week, Apple's CEO took on Adobe's oft-repeated contention that Apple's (AAPL) mobile products -- the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch -- don't offer access to the "full Web" because they don't support Adobe's Flash format. 75% of the video on the Web, Adobe's supporters point out, is encoded in Flash.

"What they don't say," Jobs wrote, "is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264" -- which iPads and iPhones do support.

"Almost all" may be an exaggeration, but the chart above, posted Saturday by TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld, suggests that the trends are headed Apple's way.

The chart was produced by Encoding.com, which does on-demand Web video encoding for a variety of clients, from MySpace to MTV Network. It encoded some 5 million videos last year, so it has a pretty good handle on which formats are up and which are down. Schonfeld explains:

As the chart shows, in the past four quarters, the H.264 format went from 31 percent of all videos to 66 percent, and is now the largest format by far. Meanwhile, Flash is represented by Flash VP6 and FLV, which combined represent only 26 percent of all videos. That is down from a combined total of 69 percent four quarters ago. So the native Flash codecs and H.264 have completely flipped in terms of market share (Flash also supports H.264, however, but you don't need a Flash player to watch H.264 videos).

Once again, Apple may be skating not to where the puck is, but where it's going to be.

UPDATE: As many readers have pointed out, Flash also supports H.264 and could be contributing to the upward curve of H.264 in the chart. They also point out Flash is used on the Web to create all sorts of content, from audio recordings and free games to little ads that dance on the screen.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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