Home > Flash, Mobile, Video > What about the future of Flash ?

What about the future of Flash ?

Long time passed since my last post on this blog. I have been very busy in an important video streaming project but this is not the only reason for my absence. I have also wanted to wait and take all the necessary time to analyze, ponder and “digest” the infamous Flash affair.
I will not hide my bitterness about the fact, but I’m also more optimitic now, after I have seen the real consequences and have had the time to elaborate on the future scenario. I’ts not all a bed of roses but I’m somewhat optimistic.

First of all, fortunately, I’m not limited to Flash technology in my consultancies. I work with .net technologies for many years and I have designed and deployed successful streaming services in HLS with both Wowza Server and FMS 4.5

You also know that I’m an encoding expert with important success cases and a deep knowledge of commercial and open source encoders like Ffmpeg, x264, Flip Factory, Telestream Vantage, Atheme KFE, Rozhet CarbonCoder, Digital Rapids to name a few.

I have created encoding pipelines and optimized existing ones for delivery platforms based on HLS, Flash HDS, MS Silverlight and ipTV and designed decoding and delivery optimizations for Flash and Silverlight.

So when I talk about my bitterness, it is not driven by the fear for the future but by the awareness of the big mistake that Adobe has done stabbing Flash in the back. I want to focus this post on the future prospectives for Flash and not on the disastrous announcement of Adobe (a masterpiece of masochism, at least from a PR point of view), however a brief summary of my thoughts on the topic is a good thing. I do two short considerations:

1. Adobe may also have had good, long term stategic reasons for dropping Flash for mobile browser, but they could choose modes and terms with much less collateral damages. Why not reduce progressively the commitments and the investments across the lifespan of FP11 to avoid harming the Flash Community ? After all, FP11 has been released for Android and QNX and it has brought important improvements in performance and stability. I know that Flash for mobile browsing has a lot of problems and those problems are due tot the excessive use of bad Flash coding that has been done over  time especially for advertising. Obviously if you have a page with 5-6 Flash banners that can kill an old desktop computer, how can be able a tablet to handle this ?
A simple solution could be to put every swf  of a page in an idle mode, with a clickable poster image that activates the swf  only when touched. Simple, clear and always better than have no Flash support in mobile browsing.

2. Adobe just does not realize that is killing the goose that lays golden eggs. Have you even thought about the fact that Flash is used every day by 2 billion people! It’s probably the most pervasive peace of sofware after MS Windows. Giants like Steve Jobs would have exploited such competitive advantage in ways that the current Adobe management are not even able to imagine. Yet it is not difficult to imagine for example a marketplace of Flash and AIR apps on the model of the MacOS AppStore (but with 20 times more potential customers). What it is worth this kind of power ? Evidently near t0 zero for Adobe.

But now the damage is done and it worth nothing to complain, and so there will be some short, medium and long term consequences. The short term consequences are paradoxically positive for experienced Flash developers. This is because new developers, creative shops and consultancy firms are focusing interest to HTML5 because of the bad medium and long term outlook for the Flash technology and because of  marketing reasons. But the demand for Flash technology is not decrasing as fast as the offer and so there is a burst in the amount of work available for skilled developers.

In a medium term I see an higher convergence between the demand and offer for Flash-based projects in general. Flash will mainain or increase it’s penetration in web gaming thanks to 3D (remember that the casual game market on Internet is completely Flash-centric today, how forget that every day 200+ million people play some Flash games in Facebook ?) and probably will remain the reference for video streaming, but in the RIA market and creative market HTML5 will definitely gain it’s momentum (in real terms, not like now where only a few important creative, video or gaming projects has migrated from Flash to HTML5).

Flash in the mobile market, as a cross platform mobile development technology, has not, in my opinion a clear outlook for the future.  The sudden drop of Flash for mobile browser and the drastic reduction of commitment for Flex has been percepited as a treachery of Adobe from the point of view of the loyal base of sustainers and developers and as a definitive change in the wind from the point of view of customers and stake holders. How to blame them ? the lack of support from its own creator is a mortal stub for a technology and the message from Adobe is clear: in the long term we’ll substitute Flash with HTML5. Not only, we will focus more on tools than technologies (Flex docet).

No place for developers in the future of Adobe ? I don’t know but the long term perspective of Flash, Flex and other Flash related technology (FMS?) has been heavely perturbated by the infamous move. Flex is now an Apache baked project but is it a guarantee of evolution and support ? Who will invest time and credibility among customers in a technology for mobile development that has not a clear commitment from its creator and controller ?

Concluding, what I intends to do as a Flash developer ? In the short term I have to do a lot of Flash related projects, so no problem. In the medium term I think to continue using Flash/AIR for Mobile development. This is a clear path for me, I can capitalize on my AS3,Flash and Flex platform skills to develop desktop, browser and mobile apps. Now the level of features for Android and iOS has become good enough to be able to develop any kind of apps without the need for adding Java and Objective C to your skill portfolio (in my opinion, the recent support for notifications, in app purchase and HLS have cleared the top three entries of the most wanted and needed features list).

And in the long-term ? I dont’ have an answer, I think I’ll simply wait and see.

PS: Very interesting article about “migrating” from Flex to JS (Thanks to Anna Karim) – https://plus.google.com/109047477151984864676/posts/CVGJKLMMehs

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Categories: Flash, Mobile, Video
  1. Scoch
    16 January 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for your words. Please keep on posting your precious advices.

  2. Anna Karim
    16 January 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Since you’re working with video, how wonder how you feel with the future for the video on the Web? Do you think there’s a future in HTML5 video? What about DRM? And interactive video ?

    In one day, two excellent readings on present and future of Flash – first, the one at https://plus.google.com/109047477151984864676/posts/CVGJKLMMehs and now yours! I have a feeling that we’re going to start seeing more and more people defending Flash as soon as everyone realizes that HTML5 won’t deliver what’s being promised.

  3. 20 January 2012 at 7:12 am

    Nice article. I could not agree more.
    Fabio: have you noticed the quality of h264 encoding in fp 11.1 is far worse than fp 11? Apparently it uses cbr as opposed to vbr so you need to use significantly more bit rate to get decent quality when there are movements. Fp 11 would do a comparable job to fme at least with smaller sized videos but with 11.1 it is clearly inferior.

  4. Steve
    30 January 2012 at 2:57 am

    As a developer who enjoys envisioning, marketing and producing non-mobile business apps for my clients using Flash and Actionscript, I’ve been compelled to explore HTML5, canvas, jquery, Kinetic, AJAX and Javascript. I do have CS5.5 and have some simple apps I’ve created installed on my Android phone. As far as working in an ad hoc suite of other languages vs. Flash/AS3, my conclusion is that I now have a whole new appreciation for Flash/AS3. Most of what I do can be developed in these other languages, but man, it’s more like work, whereas Flash feels like a fun hobby (that pays!). I hope others reach the same conclusion that Flash/Actionscript is a developers dream, compared to the not-totally cross-platform alternatives.

  5. Peter
    5 February 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Your grammar and spelling are terrible as much as I love your posts can you please fix it?

    • sonnati
      7 February 2012 at 10:55 am

      Thank you Peter,
      I’ll try to improve.

  6. 23 February 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Reblogged this on cryominute and commented:
    I was trying to play the latest episode of “Once Upon a Time” on ABC player and granted I have the latest browsers and updates it would not play.I found this interesting article on the future of Flash and how Google does not allow the plugs for ABC Player to operate.

  7. 28 October 2012 at 7:28 am

    love the blog like to read up on flash info

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