Here it is, hiding halfway down the company’s latest press release, like a guillotine in a crowded town square: “Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash.” Boom. That’s the sound of the blade dropping, and Flash, finally, thankfully, mercifully dying. Because Adobe just killed it.
It’s actually slightly more complicated than that. Adobe is working with Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to put that last nail in Flash’s coffin over the course of the next three years. The Adobe statement continues, “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.”
This is great news, although hardly surprising. Flash has been dying a slow, painful, and even dangerous death for years now. As more and more developers moved to open standards like HTML5, the once-ubiquitous Adobe software started disappearing from websites left and right. Meanwhile, Flash was riddled with security concerns and became a frequent target for hackers looking for malware delivery mechanisms. Adobe just couldn’t issue security updates fast enough to keep people’s machines safe.
Last year, Google decided Flash was so risky that announced a new system whereby Chrome would default to HTML5 whenever possible. And that happened just a few months after Google banned Flash in display ads. At this point, Flash was a zombie. In fact, the slow, ugly death of Flash had started back in 2015, when Adobe killed the Flash brand. Moving forward, the software that had been called “Flash Professional” was renamed “Adobe Animate.” Still, the hackers kept hacking, and Flash remained dangerous under any name.
Even though Flash is officially dead, it will take some time to phase it out completely. That’s exactly why Adobe enlisted the help of the country’s largest technology companies, each of whom released their own statements. You can read those statements here: Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla. It’s hard not to read Apple’s statement without hearing Steve Jobs’s voice:
Apple users have been experiencing the web without Flash for some time. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch never supported Flash. For the Mac, the transition from Flash began in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed. Today, if users install Flash, it remains off by default. Safari requires explicit approval on each website before running the Flash plugin.
After all, it was back in 2010 that Jobs raised his scythe and declared that Adobe Flash needed to die and that Apple would deal the first blow by not supporting the software on iOS devices. Here’s a key quote from that legendary blog post:
Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.
So it will have taken Adobe a decade to admit it, but Steve Jobs was right. PCs and mice will still survive. Not Flash. Flash is dead. Long live HTML5.