Is Flash Dead? The Age Of The Plugin-Less Web

by Zohar Babin

Many may have found the latest news rocking, shocking, or maybe as a “little too late”…

In case you didn’t follow the news yesterday, Danny Winokur, VP of Interactive Development at Adobe made the following announcement:

“We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.”

It wasn’t very surprising then to see the surge of excited commentary from the HTML and Web Standards community and disappointment felt by avid Flash developers.

The Open Web adoption trend

A web that is based on open standards is accessible to all and provides a non-discriminatory environment where anyone can create and innovate freely. Promoted by the Open Video Alliance  in conjunction with Apple’s choice to exclude plugins from its mobile Safari browser and followed by Microsoft’s plugins-free IE10 and HTML5 based desktop Apps in Windows 8, the idea of an open web is now becoming a reality. Adobe’s recent announcement joins the global market trend of major platform providers (Apple, MS, Google…) betting on HTML5, some even exclusively.

Near 60% of users have HTML5 browsers with significant growth trend

Near 60% of users have HTML5 browsers with significant growth trend

 

“Developers Developers Developers” – It’s all web now

Steve Ballmer had it right. It is all about the avid community of developers that use your platform.
It’s clear now that with a plugins-free web – the dominating programming platform is the web’s HTML, Javascript and CSS trio.

It should come then as no surprise that Adobe picked this time to make this announcement. With over 60% of end-users already using HTML5 powered browsers and increased mobile media consumption favoring native Apps and HTML5. The timing is perfect to join the trend and shift product attention to HTML5 tools and lower-cost content creation tools (Adobe Creative Cloud).

Important to note that the latest announcement from Adobe only mentions the discontinuing of work on the mobile in-browser Flash Player while they continue to strengthen their native and desktop apps via AIR, as well as advancing their desktop in-browser Flash Player.

Innovation platform

While HTML5 is being accepted and widely adopted, there are a great deal of issues in all that relates to Video on the web. Some of those issues include lack of agreement over codecs, inconsistent playback behaviors between browsers, yet-to-be-implemented features (Fullscreen, Camera/Mic Support) and features yet-to-be-defined (DRM).

Flash will probably stick around as mainstream for a few more years (2015?) and will most likely co-exist as an innovation platform later on advancing what is not yet defined in the standard. However as you plan new products, the obvious choice should now be HTML, Javascript and CSS, leaving plugins for the edge-cases.

Which codec will rule them all?

You might be asking yourself this: With Flash phasing out and browser makers unlikely to decide on the video codec, which video format and browser will eventually be the one to use? – There are several web video codecs in use today, with h.264 and FLV leading the way and WebM quickly catching up thanks to Google’s Chrome fast adoption rate.

So it doesn’t look like the codec wars will be won anytime soon, but we at least now only have 2 codecs to worry about (h.264 and WebM). Unless you’re targeting only mobile, and then you can go with only h.264.

Don’t stay behind!

Become involved, learn and catch-up with the dominating programming platform in the world. And if you happen to be around New York, this week we launched a new initiative to help developers enrich their skill set and collaborate on cool web projects. Join the 135 + (and counting!) NY hackers that will be at the upcoming meeting on November 16th. Register at: http://www.meetup.com/how-to-javascript/ .

Join market leaders (Wikipedia, Adobe, The Internet Archive, Best Buy, Disney and many more) in using and extending the Kaltura HTML5 Video Library.

 

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