A Deadly Blow to Flash

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By Vlad Vidaeff

If you’ve ever watched a video online, you’re familiar with Flash.  Flash is the software provided by Adobe that allows you to watch a video on your device.  If you’ve used Flash, you are also familiar with the constant need to download updates and new versions of the software.  This is not due to constant innovation on the part of Adobe.  It’s due to the frequent bugs and other errors that make patches a necessity.  Along with several other heavy hitters, Google has announced that it will no longer support Flash.  This blog will explore the reasoning behind this decision and the impact it will have on how we view videos online.

Google has joined Facebook, Apple, and YouTube in banning Flash support for its advertising platform and for Google Chrome.  Instead, to enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices, Google encourages advertisers to use HTML5, Flash’s major competitor.  This will be a gradual process.  Starting June 30th, 2016, display ads using Flash will no longer be uploaded into AdWords and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.  About six months later, January 2nd, 2017, display ads using Flash will no longer be run through DoubleClick or the Google Display Network.  Thus, Google will completely phase out Flash from its advertising platform and services less than a year from now.

What’s the reason for these haymakers from some of the most influential companies in business?  Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs notoriously hated Flash.  In 2010, he stated that the plug-in has “reliability, security, and performance” issues.  As a result, Apple has not provided support for Flash on any iPhones or iPads for quite some time.  Due to the aforementioned issues, HTML5 has become the preferred platform by many developers.  Less security and performance issues, as well as the ability to play videos more smoothly than Flash, are some of the advantages offered by HTML5.

While HTML5 is the superior software, Flash still has a significant presence in the market.  In June 2015, according to Ad Age, 84% of banner ads used Flash.  This number has significantly fallen as Amazon recently blocked Flash ads from its own website.  With Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook all throwing punches at Flash, this percentage will taper to zero in due time.  The clock is ticking.  The heavyweights have ensured that Flash will lose its boxing match by knockout.


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