The engineering community is no great fan of Adobe Flash. We use it because we have to, not because we want to. Most Flash apps are written by people with a softer set of skills and a greater sense of aesthetics. Real engineers don’t want to program in Flash. So any effort to kill it is generally supported by serious engineers. But we are pragmatists.
Microsoft worked hard to kill Flash by introducing Silverlight, an alternative to Flash on the web. The problem with that attack vector is that it offered nothing compelling to developers, serious engineering types or softer design types. Flash worked on the web and the installed base was there. Hence, if you needed to get some video or animation working on your website, you went where the installed base was, and that was Flash, as Adobe would happily tell you.
Then Apple came in with an entirely new platform, in a form factor (iphone) that is not particularly well suited to Flash. Through simple starvation they kept Flash from becoming important to that platform. You don’t hear engineers complaining too much about Apple not allowing or supporting Flash, because you see, we hate it anyway.
And now, we all know where this story ends. Flash is dead. The new battleground is mobile, Apple is the king and Flash is not on the platform. Developers are writing apps directly for the device in “real” programming languages with serious development tools that were not designed by wolves, and the world moves on.
Make no mistake, Flash will die. Phanfare is a pretty good example. To make our web albums work on the iPad, we need to move to HTML5. And we will, first for video, and someday for the Flash slideshows we show. And then we will have one code base that works across mobile and desktop OS.
All this reminds me that you rarely ever beat the incumbent winner at his own game. Microsoft could not beat Adobe within the desktop browser. Apple moved the field of battle. They created an entirely new platform with new devices that was so compelling that consumers flocked to it. And on that new battlefield, they slaughtered Adobe’s Flash.
Lot’s of folks have a problem with Apple’s heavy handed refusal to allow Flash on their devices. My view is that it’s good business for them and a sound technological choice. The marketplace has spoken. 85MM devices sold, none of them run Flash and the sun continues to rise.
It was a significantly greater effort that Apple put forth with mobile than Microsoft ever did with Silverlight. To be sure, killing Flash was incidental to that effort – collateral damage! But the world does not care. As to whether Apple can really legally prevent an engineer from writing in Flash and compiling through Objective C is a legal question. But don’t worry, engineers don’t want to.