Flash has been dying a long, slow and painful death. Ever since it developed a reputation for being a battery killer, something which is abhorrent in today’s mobile centric world, consumers have begun avoiding it at every opportunity they can. This has been aided tremendously by the adoption of web standards by numerous large companies, ensuring that no one is beholden to Adobe’s proprietary software. However the incredibly large investment in Flash simply wouldn’t disappear overnight, especially since Adobe’s tooling around it is still one of its biggest money makers. It seems Adobe is ready to start digging Flash’s grave however with the announcement that Flash Professional will become Adobe Animate CC.
The change honestly shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the writing has been on the wall for sometime. Adobe first flirted with the idea of Flash being a HTML5 tool way back in 2011 with their Wallaby framework and had continued to develop it as time went on. Of course it was still primarily a Flash development tool, and the majority of people using it are still developing Flash applications, however it was clear that the market wanted to move away from Flash and onto standards based alternatives. That being said the rebranding of the product away from being a Flash tool signals that Adobe is ready to let it start to fade in the background and let the standards based web take over.
Interestingly the change is likely not revenue driven as the total income that Adobe derives from it directly is around 6% or so. More it would seem to be about bolstering their authoring tools as the standard for all rich web content, broadening the potential user base for the Animate CC application. From that perspective there’s some potential for the rebranding to work, especially since standards based development is now one of their key marketing plays. Whether that will be enough to pull people away from the alternatives that cropped up in the interim though is less clear but Adobe does have a good reputation when it comes to making creative tools.
Flash will likely still hang around in the background for quite some time now though as much of the infrastructure that’s built up around that ecosystem is still lumbering to change. A good example of this, YouTube, dumped Flash as default for Chrome some time ago but that still left around 80% of their visitors defaulting to Flash. Similarly other sites still rely on Flash for ads and other rich content with standards based solutions really only being the norm for newly developed websites and products. How long Flash will hang around is an open ended question but I don’t see it disappearing within the next few years.
We’re rapidly approaching a post-Flash world and we will all be much better because of it. Flash is a relic of a different time on the Internet, one where proprietary standards were the norm and everyone was battling for platform dominance. Adobe is now shifting to the larger market of being the tool of choice for content creators on a standards based web, a battle they’re much more likely to win than fighting to keep Flash alive. I, like many others, won’t be sad to see Flash go as the time has come for it to make way for the new blood of the Internet.