It’s no secret that the relationship between Apple and Adobe isn’t particularly healthy at this point, and despite the nicely staged coffee moment, nor is the relationship between Apple and Google. It seems like this is bringing together Google and Adobe: rumour has it that Flash will be bundled with the Chrome web browser and/or the upcoming Chrome operating system. Update: It’s official: “When users download Chrome, they will also receive the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. There will be no need to install Flash Player separately. Users will automatically receive updates related to Flash Player using Google Chrome’s auto-update mechanism.”
The rumour comes courtesy of ZDNet, citing the usual “reliable sources” (several of them, even). According to the rumours, the announcement of the deal will be made today, and since today has barely started in the US (we’re past half-way here in the old world), it might still take a while for the news to arrive (if true, that is).
For some reason (can’t put my finger on it) I find it unlikely that Google will bundle Flash with the Chrome web browser – it seems far more likely that the Chrome operating system will include it. After all, Chrome OS is targeted solely at the web, and whether we like it or not, Flash is part of the web and here to stay. It would make perfect sense for Google to include the runtime with its operating system.
It could also mean act as a selling point for Google when competing with Apple on the iPad. While the Chrome OS is targeted at netbooks, it will surely appear on tablets as well. We’ve already seen countless Android tablets, so this rumour might also mean that we will find Flash on Android devices.
Whichever way you look at it, it would be an interesting turn of events. Google has been very supportive of HTML5 and related standards and openness – at the same time, however, Google is actively pushing H264, the patent-encumbered video codec companies like Apple and Microsoft are trying to shackle the web to. In other words – Google is obviously no saint, so the company promoting Flash certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise.
If anything, I’d have thought Google have more to gain from decommissioning Flash as HTML is much easier to scan and build search engine results and targeted adverts against than Flash (let’s not forget that adverts are Google’s bread-and-butter business)
Also Google have always (publicly at least) been advocates of open technology. So while Flash is undeniably a web standard, it’s not an open standard.
Edited 2010-03-30 13:21 UTC