It’s been more than five years since Steve Jobs wrote his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” letter citing the high level of energy consumption, lack of performance on mobile and poor security as the reasons his company’s products would not support Adobe Flash technology. Finally, it appears we’re getting closer to the curtain closing on Flash.
Not too long ago, Flash powered a high percentage of the Internet’s vast array of video content. Today, that number is lower. But make no mistake, there are still many Flash-powered multimedia items on the web, including graphics, videos, games and animations, like GIFs, a preferred method of expression for millennials and adults alike.
We’ve been watching HTML5 impede on Flash for a while, and it’s now taking center stage, establishing itself as a predominant creative format, validated by the recent moves by Google and Mozilla that are only helping to accelerate that transition.
Over the years, Flash has become famous for a few less-than flattering features that can all play a role in hindering user experience, including intrusive experiences, increasing page-load times, lowering a site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and security flaws.
Despite all these grievances, the digital-video advertising industry has been forced to use Flash because of VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface Definition), a standard that allows a video ad and a video player to communicate with each other. VPAID provides a way to dynamically swap or customize video-ad creative based on ad decisions, and has long been used for Flash-based video ads on desktops.
When you consider the fact that Flash needs to be installed (as opposed to HTML5, which requires no installation), it’s easy to see why in the long term, it didn’t stand a chance. Some would argue that Apple’s refusal to ever support it should have been a sign of things to come.
However, it’s important to remember that Flash was developed in a time where the desktop was king. The long load times it commands simply aren’t conducive to mobile environments — a deal-breaker for today’s mobile-first world.