We don’t want to give the impression that we’re celebrating the long-awaited demise of Flash, but, erm… we’re celebrating the long-awaiting demise of Flash. We’ve even had some cake in the office to toast the occasion (well, we have, albeit not for that reason… but we digress).
Anyway, let’s get back to the point of this blog post. After a rather protracted decline, Adobe has finally sounded the death knell for the plugin that those of us in web design circles for so long loved to hate, but for an equally long time, also so routinely used.
The once-popular software nears its end
You probably don’t need us to remind you just how ubiquitous Flash once was, especially during its late 2000s ‘salad days’. There’s also no doubt of the central role that it played in bringing into being the sophisticated graphics and gaming that we now take for granted on the web.
But let’s be honest… it was also annoying, and came to be used way too often and inappropriately. Its widespread use also made it a frequent target for hackers, aided by the prevalence of outdated versions of the software.
Then, came one of the worst blows of all – then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ famous April 2010 letter in which he took the plugin to task in response to criticism from Adobe of the Cupertino firm’s refusal to support Flash on its iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Citing a series of issues ranging from security to the performance of the software on mobile devices, the late Apple founder declared that “the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short… new open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).
“Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”
Has Adobe finally taken the hint?
It would seem so – and that it has, in fact, been doing so for a while. Apple never did support Flash on its mobile devices, even after Jobs’ sad passing and Tim Cook’s rise to CEO, and it seems that much of the rest of the technology world has long moved on, too.
Modern browsers and HTML5 enabled the replication of Flash’s functionality without third-party plugins even being required, while browser vendors have also been deprecating Flash support in recent years. Google, for example, made Flash a ‘click-to-play’ plugin that users needed to explicitly enable in order to use it.
Even Adobe has dropped enough hints lately of a declining commitment to Flash, so its latest announcement – on 25th July – that it would cease to update and distribute the Flash Player by the end of 2020 isn’t a great shock.
So what about the future?
Adobe’s VP of product development Govind Balakrishnan has spoken of the company being “very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer”, and it has every right to be – after all, we’re struggling to think of many technologies that have been so influential in the Internet era.
However, it’s also true that time is a cruel mistress, and that the future ultimately belongs to the alternative solutions that have long superseded Flash in dominating the web.
Get in touch with Jak HQ today, and we can begin to show you the possibilities for your own organisation’s up-to-the-minute online presence.