Flash vs future technology

In the past you would have been hard pressed to find a flash website or any flash content on the internet, but with huge advances in the platform, thanks to Adobe, Flash is a multimedia platform now widely used throughout the web and advertising industries, and like many pieces of technology it still comes with its own long list of pros and cons. It’s a platform that provides excellent interactivity and animation for digital content, it’s also a well-supported system with 98% of browsers supporting flash content, due to this it’s widely used within games production for the web and for online video, such as within YouTube. File size and bandwidth limitations are areas that always need to be taken into account when working with Flash; with increasingly impatient audiences, making file sizes as small as possible becomes even more important.

The debate of whether to choose a flash based system over HTML (especially now with HTML5) is long running and shows no sign of stopping. Web sites such as Scribd, a site where people can share original writing and documents, are steering away from their past flash development in favour of more recent technology­ releases, such as HTML5 and CSS3; sure these technologies have their advantages over flash but are not yet supported fully by all browsers and are relatively new, so it will take time to know if they are the future.

On the other hand there are many companies that are hedging their bets on Flash based systems over these new technology releases. Last year YouTube announced that it will continue to favour Flash over new technologies like HTML5 for distributing video. YouTube’s main concern was its lack of a single video format; this is an understandable concern when 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute on a daily basis. What’s interesting is that YouTube is owned by Google, who themselves have already adopted HTML5 on their websites.

This on gong debate has now taken over the tablet and smart phone market. The most publicised being Steve Jobs and Apple’s refusal to integrate Flash browser support within its mobile product range. In 2010 Steve Jobs wrote an article detailing his thoughts on why flash support is not incorporated into apple mobile browsers and to give customers and critics more information into why this is so. https://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/

As you could imagine this is an area which most competitors, such as Blackberry and Motorola are taking full advantage of. With the use of clever advertising they are aiming their mobile products at consumers that crave more open systems that support all content on the web, customers that want consistency between their mobile and desktop surfing experiences and are not restricted on what content they are able to view.

Competitors promoting flash within their mobile devices (Blackberry Playbook).

Flash within a desktop setting, through creative and dynamic websites and online advertising has a future, but it’s hard to see where flash has an advantage within the mobile market. HTML, CSS and JavaScript, are technologies better suited for the mobile devices, with reduced download times improving battery life and data usage (which is key for mobile devices) and the improved integration of touch screen gestures, which flash poorly supports; these are the technologies that may prove to be the future for mobile browsers.

As we enter an age where there have never been more people online; sharing information, communicating and interacting with all different types of media, the technology used is going to become more and more important. Yes all technologies are improving; companies are coming up with new iterations of their products all the time, always scrambling to gain a tighter hold on the market and as this continues we will be experiencing new content and interacting with it in more creative and dynamic ways.

Here at By The Scruff, we incorporate Flash into our work, whether it is for online banner advertising or full flash based website development, for a recent example visit 30 years of Schuh.

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