Flash (SWF) Is Dead

Goodbye Flash

Even the mainstream media is reporting on Adobe’s announcement that they’re retrenching from Flash on mobile. While Adobe’s statement is wishy washy and half-hearted, the outcome is certain: Flash is dead.

Flash is dead on every platform, including the desktop. Flash on mobile was a zero financial return activity Adobe took to try to extend the best-before date of the technology as a whole. As it fades away the whole stack becomes questionable.

Increasingly there is one web as the days of the mobile romper-room draws to a close. While client specific limitations remain, my smartphone is more capable than some desktop browsers. Binning by the physical size of the device isn’t reasonable (and is almost always unwelcome, which is why many smartphone users now spoof their userAgent to avoid such web crippling).

If Flash is a no go on many of the web’s consumers, it makes no sense for any of the web’s consumers. If you have HTML5 resources and implementations at the ready, why would you ever publish a synonymous Flash resource The answer in practice today is for economic segmentation: Many sites demand a subscription to access the HTML5 resources, temporarily taxing iOS users. That isn’t sustainable.

My Position On Flash

More than a few have emailed me with what amounts to a “nah nah told you so!” victory dance. Apparently some took a prior missive I wrote as pro-Flash. I accept responsibility for being unclear in my beliefs regarding Flash.

Nonetheless, technically Flash works on mobile, perhaps simply because the devices finally caught up to its demands. On the Galaxy S II it plays simply brilliantly, without an ounce of
hesitation or strain. It really, actually works. Nothing Steve Jobs said about Flash — his position motivated by the lucrative (in more ways than the obvious) app store — was proven right by Adobe’s financial predicament and resource refocusing. Steve Jobs fulfilled his own prophecy, however, helping to hasten the demise of a derelict technology.

False Prophets

Flash sucks. Flash sucks slightly less, however, than exclusive ghettos for single platforms, leaving alternatives and the spirit of competition out in the cold.

And let’s be real — Many of the false prophets of HTML5,cheering the loudest over Adobe’s announcement, boost HTML5 half-heartedly as a proxy in a fight they should have little interest in. These usual suspects take every other opportunity to cheerlead native apps over web apps. Save us your fraudulent cheering.