There’s a very interesting rumor circulating around out there right now. Apparently, Google is about to announce some sort of new partnership involving its Chrome browser and Adobe’s Flash platform, CNET reported earlier today as a rumor.
Google isn’t talking, but what we’re hearing is that this could be related to the Open Screen Project that Google signed up for late last year. The project, started by Adobe a year ago, aims to give web developers a unified platform for content across a range of devices. The reason Google cares about this is its Android mobile operating system, and undoubtedly its future foray into netbooks with Chrome OS later this year.
CNET’s report is short on details other than talk of a “deeper partnership” between Google and Adobe that may see Flash integrated into the Chrome browser more-so than it already is. What that means isn’t clear at all, since Flash is brought to all browsers by way of a plug-in that’s included with almost all browsers already. Of course, how plug-ins will work in Chrome OS isn’t entirely clear yet either, so it is possible this partnership could mean something along those lines.
But more interesting than the actual news may be the symbolic gesture of a tighter partnership between Google and Adobe. After all, Google appears to be in the early stages of a war with former buddy Apple. The same Apple that refuses to put Flash on the iPhone. And the same Apple that won’t include Flash on the iPad, which is launching on Saturday. And the same Apple that has a CEO which has supposedly taken shots at the technology recently, while trying to convince partners to give it up — which appears, at least in part, to be working.
Something else interesting: Google offering more Flash-support would seem to go against its very public support of the HTML5 standard. Just about every new project Google launches these days, from Wave to Buzz, pushes HTML5 in some way. And a big part of HTML5 is the video component, which will allow users to play web videos without requiring a plug-in like Flash. Google has even made HTML5 available for YouTube videos, which previously only worked with Flash.
So on one hand, Google seems to be saying that HTML5 is the future, while on the other perhaps suggesting that the web still needs Flash. Flash, undoubtedly, won’t be dying anytime soon, and so of course Google needs to support it (just as Apple’s Safari web browser does). But to suggest that Flash may be the unifying force for the web (as the Open Screen Project points to), seems to go against their argument that HTML5 is that same unifying force. And I can’t help but wonder if this is all just about positioning itself against Apple again. I guess we’ll learn more tomorrow.