Geeked Out: Death comes for Adobe Flash.
Adobe's Flash, the ubiquitous Internet ad and video player, is finally dying.
After nearly a decade and a half of being the most-used Internet multimedia platform, Adobe's Flash, the ubiquitous Internet ad and video player, is finally dying. Google is removing Flash from YouTube; this, however, has been in the works for some time, but let me give you a brief history lesson in why this matters.
Flash, formally known as Macromedia Flash and Shockwave Flash, became popular back in 2000 and was an awesome way to create cool websites, games, and animations. If you watched animation short series like Homestar Runner or Happy Tree Friends, you were watching something created in Flash. If you played games on websites like New Grounds, you were able to because of Flash. And if you remember all those slick websites that took forever to load, well, that, too, was because of Flash.
However, along with all those amazing things listed, Flash is also the largest way to serve ads to web surfers. And hackers love Flash, as it is often the cause of vulnerabilities to large websites – a chief danger being that Flash was installed on nearly every computer so that they can access websites that use it. This shared library and communication between home computers and servers created a wealth of ways for hackers to exploit the platform. Even as recently as 2012, Adobe had to patch a hole to fix a vulnerability discovered by hackers that would allow them to turn on webcams and literally spy on people.
Apple has been the most vocal in wishing demise to Flash. They never supported it for any of their mobile devices, forcing sites like Google to begin the transition to HTML5 for hosting video content to Apple mobile devices. And it's not just because of the security issues mentioned above. Ever complain about the battery life on your Android phone? Or your computer running sluggishly? Flash is often a prime suspect in both consuming too much battery and slowing down aging machines.
But so what? Flash could continue to exist as an ad server, right? Well, no.
Amazon has already stopped allowing advertisers to use Flash on their site, and Google is following suit, sounding clearly the death knell for the platform. But here's a quick startling stat: in the first quarter of 2015, more than 90 percent of all ads on the Internet were shown through Flash. But Amazon and Google – just two organizations – make up 10 percent of the Internet, their moves presenting the clear signal to advertisers that the time to move on is upon us.
While I don't have a horse in this race – though I would like longer battery life on my devices – I do feel saddened to know that a platform that supported some of my favorite media, be they games or cartoons, finds itself on death's doorstep. Flash Gaming already had its boom and bust several years back, but some of my favorite developers cut their teeth making Flash games. Games like Super Meat Boy and Castle Crashers come from studios who started making small free Flash games. Flash is also an anachronism of the early 2000s, back when things like Napster were popular and the web was just dreaming of becoming what we know it as today.
Am I ultimately sad for this slow death of Flash? No. But part of me does miss the age of the Internet it epitomizes, one before the social media craze of Twitter and Facebook. However, that being said, the successor of Flash, HTML5, runs a lot smoother and Flash failed to evolve to meet the needs of companies that had used it for years and were outgrowing it. So in the end, I guess all is fair game in the name of progress!
John Lindvay can be contacted at jLindvay@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @Fightstrife.