Adobe announced details of its Creative Suite of applications Monday amid a stormy debate over its relevancy and the vitality of Flash, one of its most important products. But even though the air around it has grown chilly and the skies above have darkened with menace, Adobe went ahead and held its big parade anyway.
The fact is, even though it looks like the cards are stacked against the Flash platform, there’s very little threat that it will be supplanted by another technology any time soon.
Key to Flash’s success is the explosion of web video. More than 90 percent of web-enabled computers around the world have Flash Player installed, and all of those people can go to sites like Hulu or Comedy Central or YouTube right now and watch the full spectrum of clips, from viral candy to Hollywood hits. Microsoft’s Silverlight technology, which can also stream videos at a level of quality roughly on par with Flash, doesn’t have the same penetration (it’s
closer to 30 to 40 percent Update: the post I previously linked to was outdated, and according to Microsoft’s April numbers, it’s actually closer to 60 percent), and there are far fewer sites using Silverlight as their sole video platform.
Also, the latest version of Flash Player (version 10.1, which came out earlier this year) addressed many of the performance, security and consistency issues that have been dogging Flash for the last year.
So, for now, Flash remains the de facto standard for video on the web.
While some proponents of the open web would have you believe that a viable replacement for Flash is already here in the form of HTML5 video, that’s not exactly the case. The HTML5 video tag does indeed allow you to embed videos in web pages without Flash. But native HTML5 video has several things holding it back.