Gone in a Flash: Adobe to kill off its media monolith

Flash has been consigned to the digital scrapheap, with Adobe announcing its plans to phase out the once-ubiquitous media software.

Flash was a hugely popular tool among web users and developers alike, and was at one point the driving force of nearly all online media. In fact, Flash was on 98% of web-connected computers at its peak, and was the preferred software for nearly all game, app and video developers. However, the first major shot across the bows came when Apple stepped out (driven by then-CEO Steve Jobs) to make its iPhones incompatible with the technology, amid concerns over its performance, reliability and security.

Use of Flash in rapid decline in past 3 years

Apple’s gambit kick-started a general move away from Flash, which arguably reached its zenith with the release of HTML 5 (seen by many as a better alternative).

Though few web users may have noticed the change, usage of Flash has dropped drastically over recent years. Google claims that 80% of Chrome browsers used Flash every day in 2014. Just three years later that figure stands at just 17% – and is declining further.

Google said: “This trend reveals that sites are migrating to open web technologies, which are faster and more power-efficient than Flash. They’re also more secure.”

Sealing Flash’s fate, Adobe confirmed that it would ramp down support for the technology over the coming three years. By 2020 it will stop releasing updates altogether, and current browsers will no longer support it. This timeframe, it says, gives developers sufficient time to migrate their software across to modern programming standards.

Though he signalled the end of Flash, Adobe’s VP of product development Govind Balakrishnan made sure to note how big a role it had in bringing both video and gaming to the web.

“We’re very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer,” he said. “During the 20+ years it has been around, it has played a key role in advancing interactivity and creative content on the web. Few technologies have had such a profound and positive impact in the internet era.”