updated 12:30 pm EST, Wed March 3, 2010
Virgin says Adobe Flash too limiting
Virgin America late Tuesday said it has dropped Flash altogether from its website. The change, which quietly took effect Monday, instead just uses newer web technologies like CSS. The airline explained the move as a deliberate gesture towards the iPhone and other handhelds, as the previous dependence on Flash kept most mobile hardware from checking into flights and favored certain devices over others.
The company's CIO Ravi Simhambhatla told to The Register that Flash was also too much of a burden even on desktops. Many visitors saw more than 40 percent of their CPU's workload eaten up by the Adobe plugin. The demand has been deemed unnecessary, especially as Virgin has only been using a small fraction of what Flash can do. The IT executive said Flash had a role on the company's kiosks but that a lack of a fixed platform often hurt the experience.
"Flash is really, really good, but as long as you can keep the hardware controlled," Simhambhatla explained. "If the hardware you are trying to put your product on isn't [fixed] then Flash is questionable."
Virgin eventually plans to migrate its site to HTML5, where animation, scalable graphics and video can work without needing a plugin and consuming as much overhead.
The switchover is a symbolic blow to Adobe, which has been embroiled in a battle with Apple ever since the latter made it clear the iPad still didn't support Flash. Adobe has cited the ubiquity of Flash for web games and video as necessitating more Flash, but Apple is known to prefer HTML5 as it already works on the iPhone and iPad and doesn't exhibit any of the performance slowdowns or crashes that can sometimes affect Flash on the Mac.