Can Adobe kill Flash?

This post was written by jimrobson on December 13, 2011
Posted Under: Flash, Flex

I continue to hear from recruiters looking for senior Flex and Flash developers. The recruiters represent clients who are looking for engineers, trainers, and architects to work on new projects as well as existing applications. So perhaps you will understand when I say that I’m still not convinced that Flash is dead.

Over the years, we have seen a steady parade of “Flash Killers” appear on the scene (Safari, SVG, Canvas, Ajax, Silverlight, HTML5, etc.) Of course, Flash did not die. So it would be easy for me to be complacent and assume that the latest Flash Killer will fail to do the job, just as all of its predecessors did. It would be easy, that is, if the latest Flash Killer were anything but Adobe Systems, Inc.

Adobe may just be able to do the job. After all, they own the technology. However,  I’m not certain that’s enough. It could be that Flash is, in a sense, bigger than Adobe. After all, Flash had already been ubiquitous for some years before Adobe bought Macromedia, so we can’t exactly say that Flash is Adobe’s baby. Flash has a life of its own. It has a large and vibrant developer community. Many multi-billion-dollar organizations have invested untold millions of dollars in applications built with Flash. Many, in fact, are still building applications with Flash.

This leads me to think of another technology that has been declared dead by pundits countless times since it became ubiquitous. Sun Microsystems is gone, but Java lives on. And based on the number of new Java applications being built, it would seem that Java will continue to thrive for the foreseeable future.

So, has Adobe succeeded in delivering the death blow to Flash? Well, I don’t know, and I’m guessing that you don’t, either. Time will tell. And it will be interesting and exciting either way. There are a lot of smart, creative, and innovative people doing a lot of very cool things at any given moment. I’m looking forward to discovering what will happen.

Meanwhile, Flash will continue to have a significant presence for at least the next several years. Even if Adobe has been successful in killing Flash, it won’t die quickly: It is too ubiquitous, too popular, and too good at what it does.

Update
Here is a humorous little footnote on the discussion: I clicked on the link in Tink’s comment below to check out Lightspark, and across the bottom of the page was a cool widget promoting the HTML5 Center (a joint venture between SourceForge and MicroSoft). The widget, of course, was running in the Flash Player!

HTML5 Center Flash widget screenshot

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Reader Comments

I still get contacted at least twice a week regarding Flex and Flash positions, so it could well be a case of demand forcing the issue rather than the future product timeline.

#1 
Written By Peter Witham on December 13th, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

The one big difference between Flash and Java that I can see that may poke a bit of a hole in your argument is that there are multiple JVMs in existence besides the one Sun released. There is really only one Flash Player, so if Adobe were to cease development of the player without releasing it as well to Apache, we’d be in real trouble.

#2 
Written By Nick Collins on December 13th, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

If Flash Platform as a hole was really in danger of dissapearing, I think Adobe will release de Player to open source (apache, whatever…). As still we are not in this situation, Adobe wants to keep control and will be evolving flash player even more. The runtimes are very valuable, still.

#3 
Written By Pedro Fernandez on December 14th, 2011 @ 3:59 am

” There is really only one Flash Player, so if Adobe were to cease development of the player without releasing it as well to Apache, we’d be in real trouble.”

I was under the impression there are lots of Flash Players due to the Open Screen Project.

And if you do a search there are a couiple of other attempts, for example http://sourceforge.net/projects/lightspark/

#4 
Written By Tink on December 14th, 2011 @ 4:27 am

Pedro: Good thoughts. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that Adobe is intentionally trying to kill Flash. Rather, their public statements have given rise to a new flood of “Flash is dead!” pronouncements, and these pronouncements have more weight than all of the previous declarations because they appear to be backed by Adobe itself. So it is possible that some organizations that have been considering Flash for future development will now decide against Flash based on the (perhaps mistaken) belief that Adobe is abandoning Flash. In other words, whether Adobe meant to do it or not, they may have delivered Flash’s death blow.

#5 
Written By jimrobson on December 14th, 2011 @ 6:42 am

I agree… In Canada, I’m getting emails twice a week looking for Flex/flash developers for enterprise or games.

Surprisingly, people started requesting an AIR Mobile app (specifically). I usually say I develop Mobile Apps, not AIR mobile apps.

#6 
Written By Joe on December 14th, 2011 @ 11:02 am

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