updated 05:10 pm EDT, Fri August 27, 2010
BBC use of Flash hurts Android use of iPlayer
A Freedom of Information request to the BBC completed just Thursday has revealed that Android use of iPlayer may have been hurt, rather than helped, by the use of Flash. As the Android version of iPlayer requires the still-rare Flash plugin to work, British viewers streamed just 6,400 episodes in July. In comparison, 5,272,464 shows streamed to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch owners.
Much of the damage to Android has been done by OS and device fragmentation. Flash requires Android 2.2 and, in the UK, would limit access to just a handful of phones. Only the Nexus One could view clips in July, and only the closely related HTC Desire received Android 2.2 this month in the country. Steep hardware requirements could also rule out the majority of Android phones; none of HTC's 2009 phones will be eligible.
iOS devices were meanwhile helped by the BBC's decision early on to use raw H.264 video and a native app. The format reduces the overhead to where even a 2007-era iPhone can play videos, and the approach is largely independent of any one iOS version. Battery use may also be lighter due to a reduced dependence on the main processor compared to Flash.
Flash has been praised for exposing mobile users to a full desktop web and enabling things such as complex streaming sites or web games, but recent tests have shown it bogging down and breaking on some sites, including some on Adobe-endorsed sites. [via Daring Fireball]