Why is Flash still so prevalent?

HTML5 has perhaps been the best thing in the past few years, in terms of advancing web technologies. No longer do we need plugins, extensions, and 3rd party software to view videos and listen to audio clips online… or do we? This is where the problem lies.

Every modern browser now supports HTML5, and HTML5 video, yet the internet seems incredibly slow at catching on. The main culprit seems to be Google. Google run two extremely popular web services which require Adobe Flash: YouTube and Google Streetview. Sadly, whilst other websites and services have made considerable efforts to change with technology and utilise HTML5, the extent of Google’s efforts is adding experimental HTML5 on YouTube, which isn’t even enabled by default. An argument that was originally present was that HTML5 technology would make monetisation and in-video advertising difficult, hence Google’s reluctancy to switch. However, if you have experimental HTML5 enabled, they now seem to have this all sorted, so I’m wondering to myself; why isn’t this the default!?

I thought I’d try out life without Flash myself for a while, and admittedly, it went very well in general. Once I’d removed Flash, I went into my YouTube settings and enabled HTML5 video on YouTube, and after having done this, things generally weren’t too bad. The majority of popular YouTube videos were available in HTML5, so I had little trouble watching anything, although I’m not an avid user of YouTube so I might not be the best opinion on that. The biggest snag I hit, however, was Google Streetview. I use this quite a bit when finding out where I need to be, and it really sucked to not have it now.

On the whole, life without Flash wasn’t actually too bad – it’s good to see that a lot of websites and companies have indeed moved on and are using decent standards. It is disappointing to see Google so behind, especially since Adobe have pulled Flash from Google’s Android mobile OS. I think they need to re-evaluate their product portfolio, and attempt to use alternative technologies, because Flash is essentially now a product of the past. It’s slow and bloated, and HTML5 video ‘just works’ in the browser.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.

Henry Cole

I'm an all round tech guy from Colchester, UK. I co-owned Geekily and regularly wrote here under "Geekily UK", but have since left the site to pursue other projects.

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