The Future of Flash

By  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Did irritation with Adobe Flash reach some sort of tipping point over the past few days? Probably not. But the heated debate about the near-pervasive plug-in for video, animation, and interactivity has made for fascinating reading.

When Steve Jobs sat on stage using an iPad that clearly didn’t support Flash, the discussion of Flash and iPhone OS instantly shifted from “Will Apple ever allow Flash on iPhone OS?” to “What does it mean for Flash that Apple will never allow it on iPhone OS?” to, in some cases, “What does it mean for the Web that Flash is on its way out?

Over the weekend, dogpile on the rabbit syndrome set in. Adobe employees blogged in defense of Flash, but if the software got a stirring defense from anyone else, I didn’t come across it. Even the thoughts from Flash supporters tended to be bleak.

If aggravating ads and Web sites with pointless “intros” drive you bonkers, don’t blame Flash–if and when HTML5 becomes pervasive, that stuff will all still exist in HTM5 form. On the other hand, if you dislike Flash because you find it buggy or sluggish–or because you don’t want to deal with plug-ins, period–HTML5’s support for video (and rich interactivity) could be the solution.

But not yet. HTML5 video is fabulous in principle, and if I were the type to bet on the outcome of technical wars, I’d place my money on it. So far, it’s an unratified, still-evolving would-be Web standard, not a done deal: Safari and Chrome support one video codec, Firefox supports another, and the still-dominant¬†Internet Explorer doesn’t do HTML5 video at all yet.

One way or another, all this will work itself out. Adobe has ambitious plans to put Flash on a bevy of mobile platforms. The squabbling over implementation of HTML5 can’t go on forever, unless the goal is to render the standard irrelevant. Nearly all significant Flash-based content will make its way to the iPhone and iPad, via HTML5, native iPhone OS apps, and/or other means.

Me, I don’t look at any of this in philosophical terms. I just want the content I’m interested in to be available on all the devices I use, via technology that’s so reliable I forget it’s there. If Flash can do that, cool. But if it’s not available on the iPhone OS, it can’t. And if it’s competing against built-in HTML5 features that are available on all browsers, it’s hard to see how it can win–unless, as folks are suggesting, Adobe ditches the Flash Player and makes Flash into a tool for creating HTML content.

Let’s end this with a few tweets my Twitter pals sent in response to my question “What future do you wish for Flash?” And then a poll…


I want Flash to work on 64-bit OSes, like Windows 7, and on Android. That's all!



I want flash to go away and html5 to be the norm. Sick of bugginess



I bid farewell to flash. Apple sought to sink Adobe's battleship using mobile phone market share and boom goes the dynamite.



Adobe Flash needs to take some clues from Html 5.



I frankly don't care whether Flash survives if HTML 5 can give us everything Flash could and be supported by all services.



certain death



isnt Flash the MS Frontpage of web video? Time to grow up developers



Flash should do Flash. You know, the games, the animations, that sort of thing. Flash. Video? Get it out of our fridge.


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20 Comments For This Post

  1. L1A Says:

    i don’t allow it on my mac with click2flash already except for youtube vids that aren’t in html5 and i don’t miss it on my iphone

  2. Bill Grant Says:

    I really don’t care about Flash and its survival. If a better technology like HTML5 comes along and knocks off Flash from its throne, so be it.

    What I do care about is a closed platform that doesn’t give me capabilities that are known to be standards today. Like it or not, Flash currently (not 5 years from now) is used for a lot of web-based games and videos. The fact I cannot run those on an iPad is annoying. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if one Linux distribution of many decided they didn’t want to support it. It is a big deal when a company that has a large part of a market does.

    In the end, the biggest loser is the user.

  3. Alex Sebenski Says:

    I’ve jailbroken my iPhone and installed iMobileCinema so I can watch streaming flash video like megavideo or dailymotion.

    It’s not that it CAN’T do it, it’s that Apple doesn’t want to let you do it.

    Apple’s embargo on third party programs is ruining their own product but everyone still eats it up with a spoon.

    Would you buy an iMac that you could only buy software from the Appstore? Or would you use a windows computer that you could only install applications that Microsoft approves? No. That’d be ridiculous, right?

    Well, Apple is building mobile computers (iPad) and keeping complete control over what you’re allowed to put on it. Jailbreaking (which Apple claims is illegal) is the only way to take back your device and gives you what you deserve, the full capability of the device you purchased.

    Thanks for the mention, hope you allow this comment to be posted. If not, I understand.

  4. Car Says:

    flash was always a bad idea from the get go…adobe should just be lucky they still have their pdf format

  5. Greg Says:

    This is all well and good once HTML5 becomes a standard but in the real world the current face of the web are HTML4.1 and XHTML 1.

    The bottom line is the user experience on the new iPad sucks because flash is not avaliable. Users are missing a lot of web content due to not being able to view flash in their browsers.

  6. Tech Says:

    Flash still has some steam in it yet. Even if Steve Jobs doesn’t like it.

  7. John P Says:

    I do not care in the least what format is used to provide video over the web; be it Flash, Silverlight, or HTML5 – if and when they get the standard finalized.

    But since the iPad’s primary purpose appears to be to provide fast, portable idiot-proof web browsing; the lack of Flash is very strange – to put it mildly. Not including support for a standard that currently dominates the market in exchange for supporting a standard that in all probability is years away from being finalized, is idiotic in the highest degree.

    Apple’s “concern” over Flash’s “bugginess” falls flat. I work with and support several different platforms (Linux, Windows – 2000 and up, OS X – Tiger and up) and have rarely encountered issues with Flash. Plus, the iPad is a closed platform – the hardware and OS are the same for all devices – and Apple cannot work with Adobe to create a stable Flash plugin?

  8. Backlin Says:

    I like the idea of incorporating video and audio into HTML 5, but Flash could still be used for a super-rich website experience, with a mobile version for smartphones.

  9. tom b Says:

    Adobe has had plenty of time to “fix” Flash. they were lazy and didn’t. Game over.

  10. Ben Norman Says:

    Flash for video is certainly on its way out, I’m sure there may be some problems with HTML 5’s video playback but I have yet to see them. However when I walk around a computer lab at uni the predominant thing I see is people wasting inordinate amounts of time on flash based games. So far (or at least as far as I’m aware) the best alternative solution for creating web based games is Java. This option has been around for ages but people still favour Flash so unfortunately I think its going to be around for a while.

  11. daemonios Says:

    Is HTML 5 the same as Flash? Can you build applications/animations in HTML 5? I really don’t know, but was under the impression that HTML 5 would only solve the video streaming issues. As for other uses of Flash, the real competitor (with a minuscule share) is Silverlight, which I rather enjoy but can’t see much use for for the time being.

  12. brent Says:

    If flash never came around, you would have nothing to the standard of HTML5 to. Flash is powerful. It crazy how many people are wowed by these simple animations they see in html5, those were done in flash 10 years ago.

  13. jacob Says:

    I’d like to note that Adobe saved apple from extinction in the 90’s with their creative suite. In the end I could care less which is used, I just want to receive and develop content on a smart efficient platform, and the competition can only serve the end users better.

  14. Greg Delapaix Says:

    I’m tired of Steve Jobs, and all the lame politics which underlie market share greed.

  15. Greg Delapaix Says:

    What is Flash? It is also a delivery platform for complex applications which cannot be developed nearly as easily in HTML 5 (which won’t be standardized for at least another decade) or Apple’s lame version of the C programming language. Jobs and the kids at Apple have chosen to compete directly with Flash, but I have yet to see any complex applications that are near the stuff you can see for instance at . Flash will likely evolve into something better than what Apple has to offer, and to be honest, S. Jobs just ain’t cool anymore….

  16. Greg Delapaix Says:

    I think Flash is very cool, but if it goes away I won’t mind- as long as Flex stays around for building apps to run on Adobe’s AIR technology. Things change, but programming languages just get better and better, including ActionScript and MXML.

  17. Flash video news Says:

    I think everyone is really quick to assume HTML5 is going to replace Flash. Especially went giants who drive tech adoption like YouTube are saying they're going to stick with Flash

  18. Mark Says:

    Flash is creativity. Apple is selling on creativity.
    Jobs is now a corporate obstacle working for world dominance through selling apps. I thought he was one of us.
    I can sell my G5 and create my good stuff on a PC. Don't need the fancy fruit logo anymore. I now think it's a fake and very expensive package.

  19. jacques Says:

    I did that years ago and never regretted it , Mark. I use all Adobe products and have the time of my life. Flash in still a wonder to me after all these years, one of the best appliation ever. To me the Mac OS is obsolete. Apple has become the Big Brother in their 1984 commercial.

  20. Harbo Says:

    With Flash it's always been about adapting.. I see this as just another challenge ūüôā … No doubt that there is some truth to this html5 hype but it's way out of proportion… Changes like this forces developers to learn new stuff and down the road a few years from now the good flash developers will survive and prevail.

4 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. ::FLASH:: « Anna's Blog Says:

    […] ::FLASH:: 1. What is flash ? Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages. 2. What percentage of computers support / can play flash ? around 98% 3. Does the Apple I-Pad and I-Phone support flash ? ¬†Why not ? no they do not support flash 4. What is the future of flash ? ¬†Will it be supported or will ¬†it die out ? ¬†Give a link to one article to support your answer. FUTURE FLASH […]

  2. Flashhhhh Forward! « Tweet's Bloggg;* Says:

    […] Future of Flash […]

  3. MiZ.PAlACiOs Says:

    […] 4. What is the future of flash ? ¬†Will it be supported or will ¬†it die out ? ¬†Give a link to one article to support your answer. FUTURE FLASH […]

  4. And That’s What You Missed on Technologizer Says:

    […] I wondered if frustration with Flash had reached a tipping point. […]