RIP Adobe Flash!

Finally! Apple is dropping support for Adobe Flash. So is Adobe and others.

Do you recall Steve Job’s letter almost a decade ago regarding Apple’s well thought move to not offer Flash on Macs by default? Although, this whole debate of Flash or no Flash is dated. Most of us barely care about or use Flash since ages. I don’t even remember using Flash any more, this is how long it has been for me.

Late Steve Jobs mentioned a couple of things against Flash including its closed proprietary software licensing and lack of openness in terms of deployment across various platforms. For instance Flash as a plug-in or add-on or extension has always been unjust for GNU Linux or BSD users. Adobe Flash had a bad reputation with constant and critical security bugs and vulnerabilities. Performance, optimization of content served using this web technology had also been questionable in realm of other robust open web technologies. Battery life on mobile devices with Flash that used dated software decoder ate more than required or expected battery power. By 2010, a majority of progressive web developers promoted HTML5 based open technologies with uniform open standards for the web. So, basically, it was not just Apple who suggested a different future of web technology departing from Adobe Flash. It was adopted as a uniform move for the most part by all the major players. Apple being the first giant to speak out.

As per the release notes of Safari Technology Preview, Release 99 on Apple’s developer site, Adobe Flash is expunged in Safari, the web browser on Apple devices. It is gone for good. Although it is not confirmed by Apple officially for a public release yet. Isn’t it obvious? I strongly believe with this release Flash is gone from Apple Safari forever. Kaput!

What is amazing is how open technologies can emerge as a killer for well established products in the market. It is a lesson for web giants to not be stubborn about a technology and accept fallacies for greater good. Market is getting educated and now understands the idea of cross-platform sharing and openness of code. Sadly, support for DRM protected content in open HTML5 web technologies has been a factor too. All of the major content providers including Netflix, Prime etc wanted their users to be a benefactor of open web technologies.

Once upon a time, Adobe Flash was revered as a web technology regardless of magnitude of multiple issues it had. It was seriously difficult for many to imagine an interactive web with beautiful content without Flash. Today, it is a different story all together. In 2017, Adobe itself has announced to end support and development of Flash in favor of open formats and technologies by the end of the 2020.

Apple’s move to end support for Flash plugin in its web browser Safari is not abrupt. It is likely to be followed by other web software giants like Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera etc in the coming months.

Manish Gehlot

I am a privacy, security, encryption and software freedom enthusiast. I am into VPNs, TLS security. Recently I also got into technical writings including guides.

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