The media powering technology (Adobe Flash Player) was once inescapable – but it began to fall out of favor after Apple decided not to use it on the iPhone.
Adobe Flash, a once ubiquitous technology used to power most of the media content found online, will be retired at the end of 2020, Adobe announced Tuesday July 27,2017.
Adobe — along with Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Mozilla – said support for Flash would ramp down across the internet in phases over the next three years.
After 2020, Adobe will stop releasing updates for Flash and web browsers will no longer support it. The companies are encouraging developers to migrate their software on to modern programming standards.
“Few technologies have had such a profound and positive impact in the internet era,” said Govind Balakrishnan, vice-president of product development for Adobe Creative Cloud.
In a public letter in 2010, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticized Flash’s reliability, security and performance. Since then, other technologies, such as HTML5, have emerged as alternatives to Flash.
To some degree, adobe’s announcement doesn’t come as a major surprise. Given its wide distribution, Flash (and especially outdated versions of it) quickly became one of the main targets for hackers, and Flash offered them plenty of avenues for trying to get into their target’s machines. The fact that Apple never supported it on mobile (and Steve Job’s famous 2010 letter about that) only sped up Flash’s demise, especially as modern browsers and HTML5 allowed browser vendors to replicate Flash’s functionality without the need for third-party plugins. To be fair, Adobe probably wanted Flash do go away as much as everybody else and, by 2015, the company said as much. Since then, it has started to phase out Flash support from its applications and worked on providing its users with alternatives.
Similarly, browser vendors have also started deprecating Flash support over the last few years. Google made Flash a “click-to-play” plugin, for example, that users must explicitly enable if they really want to use it. The same holds true for all other major browser vendors.
At this point, there’s very little that Flash can do that HTML5 can’t handle. As Adobe noted during a press call ahead of today’s announcement, the number of companies that rely on Flash has steadily decreased over the last few years. Still, a number of holdouts remain, especially in the education and gaming space. Facebook says that it will help game developers on its platform migrate to open web standards.
“We’re very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer,” Balakrishnan noted. “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. But Adobe has always been about reinvention and creativity. And we’re excited to help lead the next era of digital content creation.”