Flash and Silverlight are the Chrome losers, says Zoho boss

Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu makes an interesting statement in an email he has circulated following the launch of Google Chrome:

The biggest losers in Google’s announcement are not really competing browsers, but competing rich client engines like Flash and Silverlight. As Javascript advances rapidly, it inevitably encroaches on the territory currently held by Flash. Native browser video is likely the last nail in the coffin — and Google needs native browser-based video for its own YouTube; so we can be confident Google Chrome and Firefox will both have native video support, with Javascript-accessible VOM (video object model) APIs for web applications to manipulate video. As for Silverlight, let me just say that if Silverlight is the future of web computing, companies like us might as well find another line of work — and I suspect Google and Yahoo probably see it the same way too.

These last weeks have not been good for Adobe. First there was the Harmony announcement, sidelining the Adobe/Mozilla Tamarin project and making Adobe’s ActionScript 3.0 look more proprietary. Now there is Chrome; and I’m inclined to agree with Vembu, that Google will try to move away from Flash dependency. If that is right, then neither Google, nor Microsoft, nor Apple wants to play the Flash game.

As for Silverlight, I see this more as a Microsoft platform solution, extending its reach beyond the Windows client. I doubt it will be much affected by Chrome, though Vembu is right in saying that the more capable the browser becomes, the less necessity there is for something like Silverlight.

What about Zoho itself? I would take it more seriously if it were not so desperately slow whenever I give it a try, in contrast to Google’s usually responsive servers. It may be better in the USA, or perhaps there is some other reason, but for me the performance just kills it.

5 thoughts on “Flash and Silverlight are the Chrome losers, says Zoho boss”

  1. Tim,
    I am sorry about your slow experience. We test it from multiple locations around the world, and it is generally fast. I myself have used the services from US, India, Mexico & Australia in the last 4 months, and the performance was fine.

    Can you help us narrow down the problem? My email address is there in the reply form, and I can put you in touch with our network team, so they can figure out where it becomes slow.


  2. Hi Tim,

    In the Chrome cartoon a plugin crashes through Chrome’s sandbox security scheme. Then we read Chrome allows this “…because Web pages are more than just HTML and JavaScript.”

    If Chrome had been announced four of five years ago and all the versions of Internet Explorer had less than 80% of the market, then the Chrome announcement might have been much worse for Adobe. Instead, the near stagnation in the capacity of browsers to deliver rich applications over the last six or so years gave Adobe the runway they needed to deliver things like Flash 9, accelerated rendering of h.264, ActionScript 3, Flex, and AIR.

    IE 6 is still used by many millions of people. The kind of performance delivered by Firefox’s upcoming tracing JIT and Chrome’s V8 will not be ubiquitous on the Web for years. So Adobe has more space to further establish Flash as a platform and Microsoft has more time to get Silverlight out of beta. Aside from the obvious improvements in performance that Adobe can get by implementing language features like typed fixed-length arrays and JIT improvements like tracing, Flash player 10 now includes controlled streaming of audio, video, and data directly between Flash players (limited Peer-to-Peer) , support for hardware accelerated 3D primitives, much improved text handling, enhanced sound and drawing APIs etc.

    All the things are still in place that made Macromedia Flash attractive to Adobe in the first place. Flash 9 is well past the 90% distribution mark and Adobe can rapidly evolve features in the Flash player.

    For Zoho and other developers focused on AJAX, a two or three times increase in JavaScript performance in upcoming browsers is good news. If IE 8 delivered similar performance and IE 6 and 7 could be made to disappear tomorrow – that would be even better news for AJAX as THE Web application platform. But, these things take time and everyone (except perhaps Microsoft) is pushing the envelope. It took Adobe years to get to get to ActionScript 3. It took Google two years before they were ready to release a beta of Chrome.

    In that respect Sridhar’s comments about the “biggest losers” seems more appropriate for sporting events than the evolution of the Web.


  3. Brian, I agree it is early days. Chrome is out in beta for one platform only.

    Nevertheless I think it is a potential game-changer. It is not yet a full alternative to Flash, but it will gradually make Flash less necessary. Look what Google already achieves with hardly any Flash (Youtube aside).

    I’ve also noticed that Chrome is very quick and easy to install – just as Flash is. I think it will be soon be widely deployed, especially once it comes out of beta and is available for the Mac.


  4. Hi Tim,

    I think a key way to look at this is to examine the rate of change in what the Flash player and browsers have delivered over the last five years – not just in terms of performance but also in terms of the capabilities their APIs deliver. By this I don’t mean the rate of change in a given product. I mean what they deliver to over 90% of users on the public Internet. Even if Google buys OEM space on the desktop (nice post by the way) the rate of change in the browser space is still constrained.

    I guess you could say that if there was no XMLHttpRequest and Google wasn’t funding Firefox and Chrome then there might never have been an upper bound on how far Adobe could push Flash as a platform. But there has always been an upper bound for Flash and I’m not sure that upper bound has really changed that much.

    If Chrome is wildly successful it will have a bigger impact on Microsoft and what it can leverage from IE than it will on Adobe.


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