Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What Steve Jobs Said During His Wall Street Journal iPad Demo - Steve Jobs - Gawker

Jobs reportedly said the Journal would find "It's trivial to create video in H.264" instead of Flash. Depending on how the Journal handled the video conversion, that could be true, and for the moment H. 264 is a cheap and effective way to distribute Web video. But we assume Jobs didn't mention that H. 264 is patented, privately licensed and could get expensive fast.

Even setting that aside, H. 264 does not fully replace Flash. While it can handle video, it does not comprise a system for the rapid development of interactive graphics, as Flash does. Yet Jobs also reportedly said Flash would be "trivial" in this sense, as well — that it would be "trivial" to make an entire copy of the Journal website with the non-video Flash content also redone.

That's just not right; even assuming the Journal could duplicate its Flash slideshows, infographics and other news apps using iPad-friendly technologies like Javascript, it would take a decidedly nontrivial amount of time and effort to create or acquire such a system, hire staff who understand it as well as Flash, train staff on how to use it, and integrate it into the Journal's editorial workflow. It might be a great way to advance web standards like HTML5, and a great way to get the Journal on more devices, but it would hardly be "trivial."

It's not clear to us how assembled Journal honchos collectively reacted to these statements, but its worth noting that shortly after the meeting, on Feb. 10, editorial board member Holman Jenkins issued a WSJ op-ed comparing Apple to Microsoft and saying the company "is in danger of becoming preoccupied with zero-sum maneuvering versus hated rivals." His primary and lead example of this sort of "maneuvering" was Jobs' decision to keep Flash off the iPad.

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