Since shortly after its initial release in 1996, Flash has been an integral part of most users’ web browsing experience. By the turn of the century, it had reached (and still maintains) a presence on around 95% of desktop PCs. Though they are no longer omnipresent as they were a few years back, there are still plenty of sites that are all Flash or predominately Flash and, of course, Flash is still the most popular way to serve a video.
But Adobe’s announcement last week that there will be no more development of the mobile Flash player may signal the beginning of the end. It should be noted that Adobe does NOT say or even imply that they are discontinuing development of Flash for computers. But by withdrawing itself from the mobile platform, it is relegating itself to a niche market – if you want mobile users to be able to view your website, you won’t be using Flash.
Flash’s relationship with mobile devices has been a thorny one from the beginning and the subject of high profile rants from the late Steve Jobs. As someone who has not yet seen fit to replace my Motorola Droid, I was thrilled when Flash became available in mid-2010. But it consumes too much memory to make it desirable and is entirely too slow to be useful. In fact, sites with obtrusive flash popups can grind the phone to a halt.
But the world is moving to HTML5 and, as Steve predicted, Flash may become a relic of the past. Flash’s most useful feature – embedding a video – is handled seamlessly in HTML5 with a simple video tag and does not require that the user install bloatware on their computer.
So here’s to Flash – it’s been nice knowing you.
Photo credit: Martyn E. Jones