Death-knells for Flash

The news last week that Adobe have accepted defeat in making Flash compatible with mobile devices made me think about a number of issues.

It needs to be clarified that this news is about Flash in the browser. Flash can still be used to develop products for mobile although these will need to be deployed as apps.

Screenshot of BBC showing lack of Flash support

Screenshot of BBC showing lack of Flash support

However, the browser is a much more powerful means of delivery than the app stores – it’s available at a fraction of the cost, it’s cross platform, it’s cross technology.

In many ways it’s a shame for educationalists. Flash, and a plethora of elearning tools that output swf files, provide accessible tools for content production that can make deeply engaging learning materials. The browser, as mentioned, provides an unbeatable means of distribution.

I posted a link to this report on Twitter the other day ( The report made some thought provoking points:

  • Android tablets, the only viable alternative, have so far failed to make a big impact in the tablet space. I have held the opinion that people do not find themselves feeling the need to buy a tablet device, then decide on an iPad. Conversely, I feel people find themselves wanting an iPad and find themselves with a tablet.
  • Apple are going to do well in the Enterprise space. The ability to develop and distribute apps for enterprise purposes should mark the a significant shift for business away from Blackberry.
  • People are very comfortable consuming content on a tablet.

Of course, as the report is generated in Flash, it’s inaccessible in the browser on an iPad – the medium more and more people are accessing the web through. And the product the report is reporting on. What is that about?

On a related note, I feel that content distributers do need to do more when there are easy options. The lack of video on the BBC website when viewed in Safari on the iPad seems inexcusable for an organisation with the resources available to it.

Although let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The iPad is still an exclusive product that will only ever be used by a small minority. Although smartphones will become less exclusive – and it seems that Flash on all smartphones is a dead duck. Html5 & Javascript are what budding elearning designers need to get to grips with now.

Tools that output html5 will become more accessible and content developers more adept at using them. There will be a dip in the amount of quality content around while this technology gets into the hands of people willing to make the investment to learn how to use it – and it definitely doesn’t seem as easy to create interactive animations with html5 (and many educational resources are interactive animations).

With smartphones nearing the 1 billion mark, nearing and soon to overtake the number of PCs with Flash players, it seems inevitable that Flash is on the way out.

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