The Future of Flash

Adobe Flash was once a pillar of web design and multi-media interface. However, Flash’s industry stronghold has significantly diminished in recent years. Experts contend that plug-in technology is on its way out. Apple and Microsoft seem to agree, declining to support Flash on mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, and Windows Mobile 7. SEO-based websites, modern content management systems, and Web standards-based design have also contributed to Flash’s loss of favor. But does this really spell the end of Flash?

Flash-driven websites–once the pinnacle of design–are now considered outdated. With the future of computing and browsing catering toward mobile, designers have turned to Web standards design, using tools such as JavaScript libraries, to deliver rich content that can reach both traditional and mobile devices effectively. (The Guardian recently parodied the Apple and Adobe divide with a mock “Dear John” letter.)

Search engines can easily locate Web standards keywords, as opposed to Flash’s walled technology. Content management is also simplified because editors don’t have to coordinate with Flash developers to maintain content. The days of the office “Flash Guy” seem to be waning.

However, Adobe is simply too powerful to just let Flash die. Adobe will make adjustments to keep the format viable. After all, Flash had a major role in establishing the rich experience that modern users expect.

With Flash-driven sites dwindling, Flash’s future may be delivering custom content to focused audiences through database interchanges and rich media. Flash video remains a viable tool with potential staying power. For instance, a user might upload a picture of his house and apply different colors from a paint store or display a custom neighborhood map with local amenities to choose the best location for a new business. Additionally, most live video feeds, including sports and live news, are still flash-driven.

Adobe promotes Flash on with a web page titled “the truth about Flash.” The page is focused on “setting the record straight,” claiming that “a fair amount of incorrect information has been communicated (about Flash).” The tactic seems a bit defensive, but includes information such as, “85% of the top 100 websites use Flash (Alexa),” and “75% of web video is viewed using Flash Player (Comscore).”

It will be interesting to see how those numbers trend in the near future. What are your recent experiences with Flash or Flash-driven sites? How do you see the future unfolding for Flash?