Is Flash really dead?
HTML5 is still in its infancy but already a healthy (or unhealthy?) debate has opened up in the web community on whether the days are numbered for Adobe Flash.
The argument on whether we are about to witness the demise of Flash has been hard to miss. We’ve read the blogs across the webosphere, which have been varied in their support and vindication of Adobe’s most popular web plug-in and probably the most interesting of all, Apple CEO Steve Job’s thoughts on Flash.
Apple’s decision not to support Flash player on their iPhone and iPad suggests that they believe Flash isn’t a requirement for their vision of the web and has probably exacerbated the argument beyond the regular ‘Flash-bashing’ that has been commonplace in the web community for many years now.
Considering the fact that to date, 97% of all online users have Flash Player 10 installed, 87% of all online users can’t see HTML5 video h.264 and Flash Player 10.1 outperforms HTML5, is the argument that ‘Flash is dead’ a tad premature?
The eruption in popularity behind HTML5 is possibly justifiable, the introduction of the 'audio' and 'video' elements gave some exciting indications of the future of the web. Never before have we been able to actually createa rich, interactive experience with HTML.
So is HTML5 really stepping on Flash’s turf? Are the two that were once considered very separate technologies, now in direct competition with each other? Does Adobe have anything to worry about?
HTML5’s penetration rate depends on the capabilities of the browser of choice, whereas Flash Player only needs to be downloaded and installed any time. Assuming HTML5 makes a rapid descent we are most likely to see it being deployed for the use of video and audio (for now) as many companies will want their content to be displayed on the iPhone and iPad without seeing the blue lego box.
The current use of Flash is huge. Flash at the very least needs to stick around for legacy support to countless websites that use it for videos, audio, etc. Imagine for a minute that Flash is no longer the weapon of choice for video and audio on the web, would we see such a dramatic fall in its presence? Would the world stop spinning? Maybe not.
Flash as a technology has made great leaps and bounds in its capabilities over the years and sites such as thefwa.com have been a great measuring tool of its success. It’s been the tool of choice for some of the most creative, immersive experiences online such as Get the Glass , Labaut and in my opinion, Wonderwall. It's scalability and flexibility has seen big brands around the world using Flash for creative, ground-breaking digital campaigns that leave a long-lasting impression.
What's been prevalent over the years is perhaps the misuse of Flash, for example using Flash just for the sake of using it when other technologies such as jquery may have been better suited. This has been the argument of many ‘Flash-bashers’ over the years that Flash doesn’t always justify its presence, and I agree. We in the web design industry lend ourselves to serve the best interests of our clients, not ourselves, and should use the right technology which suits the project in the best way. This could be jquery, CSS, Flash or in the future, HTML5. The right tool, for the right job.
I personally feel that the emergence of HTML5 could possibly be a good thing for Flash.
We already see HTML and Flash co-existing on the web quite happily and there’s no reason for that to change.
So in my opinion, the only thing that is going to change in the future isn’t the demise of one technology and the rise of another, but the creation of some exciting, progressive and ground-breaking web experiences which justify their use of technology.