Many websites now have a lot of video content on them.
Up until very recently, if you wanted to watch a video on any website you would need to download Adobe’s Flash Player software. Up until very recently Youtube, Ustream(a live video streaming site) Vimeo and many other sites all required you to download and install Flash Player before you watch any video content on those sites. This whole experience of watching video on the web was inherently broken.
But now, I think that Adobe’s Flash Player is dead and here’s why: HTML5. To over simplify things, HTML5 basically means that you can watch video in Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and many other web browsers without the need for extra software to be installed.
I am going to start this one off on the Apple angle. The late steve jobs(the former CEO of Apple) very famously came out with a long open letter called “Thoughts on Flash“. This was a letter where he basically said why Apple chose not to release the iPad and the iPhone with Flash Player pre-installed. There are hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads(collectively known as iOS devices) out there combined. Previously when going to a site to view a video, there would be a grey rectangle or a big gaping white space because. Fast forward to today, if you go to a website or an app on your iPad or iPhone and watch a video all you need to do is tap the play button and it plays.
Next I want to talk about YouTube. Until very recently you would have to download and install Flash Player just to watch any video on it. However they have recently switched their video player to HTML5. Millions of people use YouTube on a daily basis. A lot of people that I have talked to in and outside of the tech community told me that they only reason they’ve installed Flash Player was for YouTube. Since Youtube switched to HTML5 those people will be uninstalling Flash Player from their computers.
The next angle that I want to talk about is the web browsers themselves. If you have upgraded to the latest version of Mozilla FireFox or Google Chrome then they will block Flash Player by default. Yes, you can still go into the settings and enable them. However, the vast majority of users don’t know how to do that and they don’t have to time to do that.
Here in the UK the BBC has a service called iPlayer which allows you to watch TV shows that aired on its channels in the past week (or further back in some cases). They even have something similar for their radio stations called iPlayer radio. Right now, if you decide to opt in to the beta for their new media player then you can watch TV shows and listen to radio without the need for flash player. You will need the latest version of Google Chrome, Opera or Firefox to do this if you are on a desktop or laptop computer. If you are on a Chromebook then there’s nothing else that you need to do. On some older smartphones and tablets you are out of luck though. As far as the BBC News website goes, their video player is using HTML5 if you are on a smartphone or tablet. On the other hand it still uses Flash Player if you are on a computer.
Next, I want to talk about Twitch. This is a place where you can watch people broadcasting themselves playing computer/video games. There are millions of people actively broadcasting their gameplay a month. Starting from the second quarter of 2016 Twitch will also be rolling out a new video player powered by HTML5.
Another site that has moved away from Flash Player is Facebook. If you browse from a desktop/laptop computer to the Facebook website or mobile device then you will notice that the vast majority of videos play without the need to install flash player. This is because (you guessed it) Facebook’s video player is using HTML5.
There is one other thing that makes it Flash Player dead is the fact that it’s unsafe. There are a lot of people out there who get tricked into thinking that the version of Flash Player that they have is out of date. There are also a lot of people when getting a new computer(or wiping their computer clean) who will do a Google search for Flash Player. They download a fake version from a site that looks a lot like Adobe’s one only to find out they have just infected themselves with a virus. There are also hackers who have been attacking older versions of Flash Player and Adobe has been doing their best to keep up by releasing updated versions. On a side note, we are also busy people and we don’t have time to wait, we just want to watch our videos and then move onto whatever else we have to do.
Without making this article too long there are also a lot of TVs which come with apps (such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Demand 5). There are also TV sticks/boxes that come with apps preinstalled.
There are lots of websites out there on the web where you can watch TV shows that still require Flash Player but those ones are carrying illegally obtained video content. Yes anyone can put up a new website for this purpose , but here in the UK Here in the UK the likes of Virgin Media and BT are blocking those sites real fast.
Last but not least, smartphones and tablets now have apps where you can watch videos without needing Flash Player.
As you can see from all of this evidence, HTML5 has become a technology that has been adopted by a lot of websites (including this one). I even wrote an article on why I dislike Flash Player.
Yes, there are still some news websites(some bigger ones) but most websites are making the switch to HTML5 really quickly. Simply put Adobe Flash Player (at least in my opinion).
There is one more thing though that I should acknowledge and that’s advertising. There are some sites that use Flash Player as a way to serve up adverts and for them that’s translates to revenue. indeed that’s understandable. With that being said I am sure that you could potentially serve up adverts with just HTML instead of relying on Flash Player.
Do you think that Flash Player is dead? If you think that it’s not dead then I would like to know why you think it’s not dead. Either way let me know in the comments.