Home > Flash > Flash player 10.1 will kill HTML5 (?)

Flash player 10.1 will kill HTML5 (?)

Update (4 February 2014):

Yes, I know, I was (almost) completely wrong with my forecasts, but not about the technical features of Flash, rather about the capacity of Adobe. 1.5 year after this blog post, Adobe changed their strategy completely (it was not the first time) and decided to give up on flash for mobile and flex. Indeed, they have abandoned completely their developers community (I call this madness because we are talking about 4-5 million at that point, and still today they are around 3 million flash devs). But what I must say is…Flash has struggled to survive even if “betrayed” by it’s own creator. Now after 2 years from the Adobe’s change of mind (and 4 years from this post), Flash continues, incredibly, to be the number one platform for video streaming. Continues to be the main platform for advertising, continues to be present in 99% of desktop PCs (over 1 Billion computers), continues to be used for complex web apps like Car Configurators. It has lost the market share of “dynamic” sites but has gained or consolidated the browser game market. Top 10 Facebook apps are all done in Flash (hundreds of millions users daily) and 175.000 mobile apps are done in AIR for iOS and Android. Probably not the bright future I’d like to see but rather distant from a sad demise. Not bad for an abandoned technology and the prove that HTML5 was (and is still now) distant from being mature.

Original article:

Yes, it’s not a mistake. I meant just that. I’m tired to read sentence like: “HTML5 is the Flash-killer”, “Flash is obsolete”, and so on. So I’m here to give my 2 cents about the diatribe “Apple vs Adobe” or better “Flash vs HTML5”, and explain why, in my opinion it is much more likely that FP 10.1 will kill HTML5 than the opposite.

I state that I have a Mac Book, a number of Windows based desktops and laptops and an iPhone and for different reasons I’m very happy with each of them especially with iPhone which I consider a real revolution in mobile. You know that I’m a video specialist so I’ll focus on video topics.


Flash is a great technology. Almost 15 years of success in enriching the web experience can’t be denied also considering the various pseudo-developers that have always abused of it creating detestable and invasive advertising or used the “worst practices” in web developing to feed a certain bad reputation of Flash.

But how deny the power of a platform that allows you to:

– execute general purpose code in AS3: a fast (compiled), clean and powerfull OOP language.
– access microphone and webcam for realtime AV applications or augmented reality.
– manipulate bitmaps, vector graphics, audio, video, text, xml, binary data.
– communicate via RTMP, HTTP, AMF, SOCKET to a wide range of server side technologies.
– develop graphic oriented apps using CS4 or user friendly RIAs using FLEX.
– support H263, VP6, H264, AACv2, MP3, Speex, NellyMoser’s Asao, MP3, FLV, MP4…
– create p2p applications, realtime applications (FMS).
– support to 3D, image filtering, post-processing (pixel bender).
– etc. etc. etc.

And all that on Windows, Mac, Linux both in the browser and on desktop (AIR), further more a subset of features is also available for mobile (Flash Lite 3).

Contrarily to common beliefs, a lot of technologies used by Flash are open, for example: SWF, FLV, M4V, AMP, Spark, Speex, H.264, RTMP (specifications and files format).

Believe me: Flash platform is HUGE.

Nevertheless we all know that Flash experience, especially for video playback, has not been always and everywhere perfect. The vast majority of problems are on Mac but also Windows Vista introduced a number of minor glitches compared to Windows XP. Watching HD video on Mac is a real problem, especially in a Safari’s window and this is in my opinion one of the main causes of the recent disaffection (in some case adversity) for Flash.

Indeed Video on Internet is the new frontier and thanks to Flash (75% of video is delivered using it) today we are surrounded by every day better and bigger videos. So Why on earth my HD videos require only 40% of CPU on a “BootCamped” Windows XP and saturate complately the CPU on OS X ? Naturally the Mac users want a solution and until then they will blame Flash for not being able to offer a flowless experience regardless of the real cause (read this explanation on why this happens by Tinic Uro).

But there are two new open fronts: the explosion of mobile devices, and the future explosion of Internet-On-TV devices.

After the advent of iPhone everything is changed in mobile: everybody wants multi-touch, geolocalization, accelerometers, easy-of-use, modern audio and video codecs, efficient access to Internet, and so on. And this not only on iPhone but on any smart phones platform that is trying to rip the iPhone leadership (Android, Symbian, RIM, Maemo, WM7 or WebOS).

This leads us to the “No Flash on iPhone” issue. Flash 10 has not been designed to run on mobile, it requires more processing power and more memory, it has no access to advanced mobile features (multitouch in-primis) on the other hand Flash Lite 3 can not compensate this situation in the high end market. But at the same time a lot of content on the web is delivered using Flash and is a problem that an high end smart phone is not able to show videos or animation, living an ugly blue box where on desktop there’s a gorgious user experience.

So let’s enter HTML5: The evolution of HTML supports audio and video tags that can be controlled via Javascript as well as canvas technology for bitmap and vector graphics manipulation and animation. Can this be used to substitute Flash’s features on mobile devices or settop boxes? Yes it can, but only partially, and it is what you have to do (and I’m doing) on iPhone’s WebApp as a Flash Player fall-back.

A Flash fall-back, this could be now HTML5 in my opinion and not certainly a Flash-killed, as someone is depicting it:

– it is only a draft, and apparently far away from standardization.
– it has already proven to be subject to conflicts of interpretation and standardization, for example about the video codec to support.
– it offers only a very small subset of functionalities compared to Flash.
– it uses JS which is a pain in terms of debugging and performance.
– it offers no protection at all for source codes.
– it is not supported now by IE.
– FF support only Theora video codec which is very far from H.264.

So summing up the “status-quo”, today we have 3 screens on which users are exploring Internet and Videos: Desktop, Mobile and TV.


Flash is present on more than 98% of desktops, and is the “de facto” standard for video delivery. Desktops are dominated by Windows 80% and Flash performs very well on Windows with some possible area of improvement. Mac has a 15% share. On it Flash could and should perform better. But why abandon Flash for HTML5 on Mac ? It’s better to ask and push for a solution of problems than duplicate the development and loose the features and the control that only Flash can offer.


FlashLite is too limited to substiture completely Flash, and iPhone does not support Flash for various, political & technical reasons, so here you can be forced up till now to see at HTML5 as a fall back for animation, bitmap manipulation and video.

Internet connected TV and setTopBoxes

A new market that require a platform for video delivery. Would it be HTML5 ?


Fortunately Adobe has worked hard in the last two years anticipating the needs and trends of the market. It has mobilitated the most important companies in the Internet, Mobile and Electronic markets to create the Open Screen Project to bring Flash literally everywhere: Mobile devices, Set Top Boxes, Media Players, TV sets. The first, long awaited, fruit of this effert is Flash Player 10.1.

Here I don’t want to comment on the number of new interesting features, but only about the phylosophy of this new release:

Provide a full FP10 experience with a player optimized for low processing power, memory and battery consumption.

I understand that the success of this joint effort can break the dream of egemony of someone else, but should excite us, final users, because not only Flash is obiquitous on desktop, but will be obiquitous on any Internet connected devices assuring a concrete user experience to everyone and everywhere.

The desktop version (Mac and Windows) of Flash Player 10.1 is in public beta 3, so very near to final release, while the Android version is in private beta but very near too. In a few months we will able to experience full FP10 contents also on WebOS, WM7, RIM and a number of set top boxes.

Let’s take a look at these videos:


Today we are already able to test what is changed on the desktop with FP10.1, simply installing the beta 3 from the Adobe site.


I have tested the Flash Player 10.1 beta 3 with various SD and HD contents and on various SO and the results are surprising:

1. On windows XP (the most diffused OS at work) there have always been very little problems but now on a Core 2 Quad @ 2.4Ghz I’m able to watch at full screen on a 24” Monitor a Full HD video consuming below 20% of CPU. With FP10.1 the performances on IE (7 or 8) and FF (3.6) are very close now while with FP9 and 10, FireFox required usually a 10% more CPU power for decoding HD. And all this without HW acceleration of H.264 which is supported by FP10.1 but only with the right combination of GPU.

2. HD playback on Windows Vista was sometimes problematic with FP9 and FP10 both on IE and FF, expecially at Full Screen, but now the performance of 10.1 is very smooth both at full screen and in window, and in any browser (IE, Chrome and FF). On a 2.1 GHz Core2Duo Sony Vaio the decoding consumes around 40% of CPU and is perfectly smooth (again without H.264 HW acceleration).

3. Windows 7 64bit performes very well and on a Mac Book (2.2 GHz Core2Duo) with BootCamp, the decoding of HD requires less than 30% (Probably because of HW Acceleration on Nvidia 9400M). With the new 10.1 any sporadic frame dropping and glitches in full screen playback disappeared.

4. And now let’s analyse the performance of my Mac Book with Snow Leopard. With the latest official release of Safari and FP10 it was a mess. My HD videos stuttered if played in Safari’s window but in full screen played very smoothly, nevertheless it was a critic condition.

Following the instruction of Tinic Uro, I have installed the latest nigthly build of webkit and Flash Player 10.1. The performance improved considerably !. No more dropped frames in Safari even with video enlarged. Very good Tinic! This is what we needed.
Ok, there is only a save of around 20% of CPU and again I don’t understand why the same clip on the same HW requires 30-40% on Windows and 80+% on OS X but at least it is an improvement.


So what about HTML5 for desktop ? FP10.1 improves consistently desktop experience in video playback with low CPU and perfect playback in Windows and a 20% improvement on Mac. When the supported GPUs will be more diffused the CPU usage will be even lower and right now ION based NetBooks (prior of FP10.1 very problematic) can decode HD without problems (read this review of GPU accelerated H.264 decoding in Flash 10.1 by Anandtech).

So, what advantages can bring HTML5 on desktop ?

I have tested it with Safari on my Mac Book, and with Chrome and FF on Windows (IE doesn’t support it yet).

Decoding a SD video in YouTube using HTML5 in Safari requires around 20% processing power, the same video around 35% with Flash 10.1 and Nigthly webkit, not so distant now. On Windows 7, Chrome requires only 5-6%, on the other hand, FireFox 3.6 is not supported at all by YouTube HTML5. The Flash version of the same video requires only 7-8% on Windows 7 in any browser.

I have tested also this HTM5 Play (SublimeVideo). On Mac the CPU usage is around 40%, the typical consumption of Flash on Windows with the same HW…perhaps in the future Apple will be so kind to expose to Flash Player the same H.264 decode path used by HTML5.

Then I have tested Sublime HTML5 player using Windows XP on a QuadCore 2.4Ghz. The decoding of the HD video sample on FireFox uses the Theora Codec (H.264 is not supported by FF) requiring 55-60% of CPU with a very poor full-screen experience (dropped frame) and poor video quality. Chrome performed much better with a 25% in window and 55% at full screen (24” Monitor).

Concluding the test: HTML5 is not competitive at all against Flash Player on Windows, while it is competitive on Mac. Obviously it is also the only solution for viewing video on iPhone.

Flash Player, until now, might have problems because of performances on Mac and because of the lack of support in the mobile market. But now with the 10.1 for desktop and with the future diffusion of 10.1 on almost all mobile plaftorms (except iPhone) plus the new set top box rising market, where are the problems ? I see only a bright future for Flash, and HTML5 not only will not kill Flash, but it risks even to remain killed itself in the competition. The scenario is clear:

85% of desktop are served very well by Flash Player 10.1 (Windows).

15% of desktop are served but with sub-optimal performance (Mac & Linux).

70+% of smart phones will be served soon by Flash Player 10.1 (RIM, WM7, WebOS, Android, Symbian and a wide share of medium level phones will be supported by FlashLite4)

So what does remain to HTML5 ? little more than the iPhone & iPad’s market, as a fall-back for the lack of Flash Player…

Categories: Flash Tags: , ,
  1. 18 May 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Nice Article Fabio!!!!….you r great!.

  2. 4 July 2010 at 7:47 am

    As far as I know, Flash players can decode H.264 base profile. Can they go up to high profile in H.264?
    And are they able to encode H.264 as well or do I need to settle for H.263 with them?


    • sonnati
      4 July 2010 at 7:33 pm

      Flash can decode baseline Main high and high10 profile with level up to’ 5.1. Flash can encode realtime only with h.263

  3. 23 January 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I don’t think comparing flash and html 5 is very usefull, because flash isn’t made only for playing videos in browser. In my opinion Flash should be used at the point where a solution in HTML and javascript gets too complicated, e.g. good and fast Browsergames. But at now, most Flash-Sites I have seen won’t even need jquery to work as they do.

  4. Dave
    10 November 2011 at 2:29 am

    Flash just died. Your predictions are 100% WRONG!

    • sonnati
      10 November 2011 at 11:30 am

      Only Flash on mobile browser just died, which is different, but I must admit that when a father (Adobe) does not believe in his son (Flash) is quite difficult to grow strong and healthy.
      The performance of Flash on RIM’s Playbook (optimized by RIM) is the prove that a bigger effort can produce excellent result (try to believe). When the effort is not done, or is done the wrong way…well…there’s no success. Indeed probably Steve Jobs was right. Not about Flash, but about Adobe.

      • Sqe
        11 November 2011 at 8:58 am

        Flash is dead, why would anyone write both flash and html5 versions of their site if html5 is a definite must on the long term?

        “If web developers must make non-Flash implementations of everything, why bother making the Flash versions at all? This isn’t just the death of mobile Flash: it’s a confirmation from Adobe that all Flash is on its way out.”


        By the time Safari 8, IE14, Firefox 30 and Chrome 40 is released, html5 will be widely implemented.

  5. Jason Landry
    10 November 2011 at 2:36 am

    So…when can we expect a retraction here?

  6. William
    10 November 2011 at 2:48 am


  7. Xynta-Man
    10 November 2011 at 2:58 am

    So… will you man up and say that you fucked up with your predictions?

  8. Rand W.
    10 November 2011 at 3:00 am

    Oh my how things have changed!

  9. m
    10 November 2011 at 3:17 am


  10. beavis
    10 November 2011 at 3:27 am

    uhh, flash is dead, retard. drive thru.

  11. Luis
    10 November 2011 at 3:35 am

    Well, see the news today. Even Adobe is giving up on Flash.

  12. HeyWhoWhaaaa?
    10 November 2011 at 3:48 am

    Soooooo…. here we are a year later and Adobe has thrown in the towel on Flash for mobile. Care for some crow pie?

  13. Al
    10 November 2011 at 4:33 am

    What’s that you said again about Flash killing HTML5?

  14. Andrew
    10 November 2011 at 5:30 am

    Just wondering, are there any retractions forthcoming?

  15. stevenjkleinteven Klein
    10 November 2011 at 6:13 am

    Is it possible you were wrong about this?

    If not, why has Adobe announced the death of Flash for mobile devices?

  16. Jayman
    10 November 2011 at 6:21 am

    LOL good call on that… Flash is dead. Steve Jobs was right.


  17. 10 November 2011 at 6:51 am

    Nice prediction.

  18. dave
    10 November 2011 at 7:30 am

    air ball.

  19. vanni
    10 November 2011 at 7:40 am

    time for a retraction Flash Fabio

  20. Joe Bloggs
    10 November 2011 at 7:49 am

    Maybe a bit late but just saw your post quoted on Daring Fireball and really…. *rolls eyes*

    “I see only a bright future for Flash, and HTML5 not only will not kill Flash, but it risks even to remain killed itself in the competition.”

    How did you manage to write this sentence without punching yourself in the face repeatedly? Let’s ignore the grammatical nightmare even (REMAIN killed???). Just read it to yourself slooooowwwwwwly. How exactly would Flash EVER kill HTML? Nevermind right now. WHOOPS! Internet! Sorry, we know you’re 99% written in HTML with a bit of flash here and there, and that flash is **EMBEDDING IN THAT HTML**, WHICH IS THE ONLY DELIVERY METHOD FOR THAT FLASH, but um…. we’re declaring HTML dead so please figure out a new way to deliver web content to people overnight. WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING???

    • sonnati
      10 November 2011 at 10:01 am

      Hi Joe,
      I know what I smoke (never smoked), not sure about you.
      Keep you comments in the limits of correctness like the other readers, I’ll post soon about Adobe fail in pushing their own open screen strategy…

  21. Roberto
    10 November 2011 at 8:18 am

    A true prophet!

  22. Jason
    10 November 2011 at 9:02 am

    Why did Adobe discontinued mobile Flash? Looks like HTML5 is the best solution.

  23. skylark
    10 November 2011 at 9:04 am

    “So what does remain to HTML5 ? little more than the iPhone & iPad’s market, as a fall-back for the lack of Flash Player…”

    The soft and soothing embrace of schadenfreude is most pleasurable.

  24. Tom
    10 November 2011 at 9:20 am

    Snicker. Yeah, spot on argument, mate.

  25. 10 November 2011 at 10:39 am

    Im not going to pile on with the recent news of Flash’s death or near death, but reading your “About Me” tells me your a Flash admirer who is always going to support it, even in the face of iPhone near domination. The sheer number of iPhones and iPads coming out means companies who want to be seen in that huge market will have to adopt html5, not the other way around. I run a blog too, Bucstop.com, I’m a huge Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fan, and for you to say Flash will kill html5 is like me on my blog saying ‘the bucs will win the Super Bowl’. No one is going to take me seriously.

    • sonnati
      10 November 2011 at 11:25 am

      Yes, I admit I was wrong, but it is a 1,5 year old post. In 1,5 year a lot of thing changed, especially, unfortunately, Adobe’s commitment and level of investment in Flash for Mobile.
      I’ll preparing a post to argument about the recent events where I’ll explain my position

  26. J man
    10 November 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Well, it seems things have not worked out as you thought they should/could… Adobe is calling it quits for Flash on mobile and TV

  27. 10 November 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Everybody is right the day after.

    • vanni
      11 November 2011 at 6:33 pm

      Jobs/Apple were right two + years ago 😉

  28. 10 November 2011 at 4:30 pm

    “the future diffusion of 10.1 on almost all mobile plaftorms”

    Not from Adobe

  29. BoxDrink
    10 November 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Adobe never changed, they kept their collective heads in the sand and decided to just rape and pillage the professional design software market for reasons unkown. But this isn’t an angry post about their terrible CS suite of apps or their famous borg-like behavior with aquisitions. No, they irrationally argued over flash knowing full well that it was not going to pass muster. Their continued delays should have been a clue to all but the foolish. Sane people saw this writing on the wall almost two years ago, as you state, and came to a different conclusion with the facts available. But your career seems tied to flash, so you naturally gave in to an illogical position and cheerled for flash/ adobe. Perhaps the tech has promise, I’m no dev, but I do know this: A workable version of flash on android has always been “just around the corner” but that is one bizarro corner, if you ask me.

    Boy: Mr Owl, How many versions of Android does it take to make flash run smoothly.
    Mr. Owl: Let’s find out! One. Two. Three. sigh…
    Mr. Owl: this is too much work.

    Everyone was spinning flash as the antidote to iOS blues. I don’t truthfully know why so many want one platform to succeed and the other to fail. meh.

    • vanni
      11 November 2011 at 6:37 pm

      “But this isn’t an angry post about their terrible CS suite of apps or their famous borg-like behavior with acquisitions”
      Don’t get us started down that path! I could kick their balls up their arse over the frustration with CS5 and my recent upgrade to Lion OS: One Hour to upgrade the OS, Three days to sort out the horror with CS5.

  30. HTML5
    10 November 2011 at 6:39 pm


    “In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?”

    More like HTML5 has slain the crap known as Flash, but you already know that.

  31. Casual Reader
    12 November 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Apparently adobe disagrees with your position. They’ve ended flash development. RIM inthe other hand, apparently is with you all the way with their playbook

  32. 14 November 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Yes, it is a 1.5 years old post. But, if your points weren’t made to stay true in 1.5 years, why talk about the “bright future” of Flash? Maybe it was just a bright present, at most.

    Moreover, you post is titled “Flash player 10.1 will kill HTML5”. After 1.5 years, are you willing to give us some update on HTML5 death?

    • sonnati
      14 November 2011 at 2:28 pm

      I’ll add: ….but Adobe has killed Flash before.

  33. Max
    22 May 2012 at 3:45 pm

    In conclusione, quando si legge una analisi di mercato dove la competenza professionale e il successo personale vengono presi come indice di valutazione dell’evoluzione futura, occorre raddoppiare la dose di grani di sale con cui prenderla.

    I agree that is very dangerous to make prediction based on few personal data points 😉

  34. 11 August 2012 at 4:57 pm

    It’s difficult to find educated people on this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    • sonnati
      12 August 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Thank you

  35. HTML5
    1 December 2015 at 5:00 pm
    • sonnati
      2 December 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Nothing else to do ? Evidently not

  36. HTML5
    6 August 2017 at 6:04 pm


    “Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.”

    Not only first prediction was so wrong, update 2014 is also very wrong.

    How embarassing to say the least.

  1. 4 August 2010 at 8:18 pm

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