GravestoneQuestionMark“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” Mark Twain was quoted as saying after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.  Before we dive into predicting a similar demise for that tried and true friend to online developers, Flash, let’s take a look at its life over the past decade.

Adobe Flash has played a leading role on the web as the standard for rich, engaging, expressive, and animated features highly regarded by marketing and advertising industries.  It began as a platform merely for animation and quickly evolved into a major multimedia giant, creating experiences on the Web like never before.  Some of the highly expressive contributions of Flash include:

  • Animation
  • Vector-based graphics
  • Audio including mp3
  • Premium Video
  • Microphone and webcam access
  • Low level bitmap manipulation
  • Hardware accelerated 2D and 3D content
  • Class-based programming language

Designers and developers began creating new Web features displaying highly interactive and animated content, like those dazzling banners and videos, with almost universal reach.  Flash Player has been a major expressive Web standard.  So, what happened?  The move to mobile happened! Mobile applications and mobile browsing capabilities flourished and brought forth major competition with Apple iOS and the ushering in of technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript programming with cross-platform and universal capabilities.  While Apple restricted Flash Player from its iOS platform, Flash seemingly found its presence in the Android market.  However, this presence was short-lived as Adobe recognized its inevitable competition and as of August 15, 2012 ceased support for all mobile devices except those older Android OEMs that still functioned with Flash Player.  With HTML5 becoming a universal standard with support for all mobile devices, Adobe decided it would work to enhance its capabilities to work with HTML5 technology, it would resolve to place its primary focus on the gaming industry and premium video playback for standalone and native applications, both desktop and mobile.  Many Flash applications can be downloaded through app stores from both Android and Apple.

With that said, is it really time for Adobe to "Flash and burn?"  Not just yet many would say. While Flash has discontinued its presence as a player for mobile browsers it has decided to take its primary focus out of the mobile industry and concentrate on its unique and high quality features available to support interactive, gaming, and premium video deployment for which it is well suited.  While Flash Player appears plagued by extinction in the mobile world as far as browsers go, its Adobe Air Runtime will enable the continuation for mobile native apps and games.  Additionally there are still Web sites that thrive on the highly expressive multimedia properties that provide benefit where HTML5 is still lacking.  HTML5, while still in its infancy, does not provide the extensive capabilities that Flash can boast of, at least not yet, leaving Flash as a viable force for Web sites who still depend on it.  However, Flash is making strides and improvements on working with HTML5 rather than against with converters and integration.  While competition continues to increase, Adobe aims to play an active part in working with other players.  In the meantime, its focus will remain on what it does best through the use of its unique Adobe Air Runtime software providing universal opportunities for desktop and native mobile applications in all platforms.  So, it's my belief that obituaries for Flash are as premature as the New York Journal’s report of Mark Twain’s passing.  I see Flash not so much dying, but perhaps simply evolving.

For more information about Adobe Flash development initiatives, check out http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplatform/whitepapers/roadmap.html.

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