(Don’t worry, we are talking about the interactive media technology by Adobe, not the superhero “The Flash” or “Flash Gordon”)
Everyone has interacted with Flash on the internet in one form or other, from the dawn of Youtube videos to memories of arcade-like video
games, or digital greetings cards with dancing elves. Most people probably didn’t even give a second thought as to how the media was delivered. At it’s peak, Flash was installed on over 95% of all computers, and was the interactive media delivery method of choice. Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) have evolved from gimmicky games to full blown web based SaaS (Software as a Service) applications and advertisement delivery platforms.
Alas, Flash will soon be no more- at least that is what the major players on the internet are saying. From business apps used to design porches, decks and patios, to educational games teaching children to read and count, and even jumpstarting the successful #1 video platform in the world- Youtube, – Flash has been at the core of our interactive web-based experiences for the better part of the last 15 years.
But, with all of the security flaws, mobile performance issues, and proprietary software and installation requirements, it seems Flash has reached the end of practical usefulness. As Steve Jobs put it when addressing Apple’s decision not to allow flash on Apple products- “… the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”
The Mobile Browser Changes Everything
As the number of smart phone users in the world is expected to surpass 2 billion in 2016, we have definitely entered the mobile era, and any standards or platforms used from here on out must fully support the vast array of mobile devices being released over the next few years.
Several platforms tried to oust Flash as the king of RIA including Microsoft Silverlight. However, while adopted by some corporate developers, these platforms continued to suffer from many of the same problems as Flash. Security issues, closed source, proprietary software, inability to run natively on multiple platforms without installing additional software and the reliance of developers on a third party to maintain the platform. Thus, all of these platforms are also being eliminated from browsers, including Silverlight, java applets and anything else that relies on 3rd party browser installations like NPAPI (Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface), which has been completely removed from Chrome 45 as of September 2015.
So What’s Next?