The Rise and Fall of Adobe Flash

James Rehwald
, Marketing Director

Adobe Flash 10 logo

Adobe Flash, previously known as Macromedia Flash until the 2005 acquisition, was a revolutionary software that changed the industry standard of online websites and the user experience worldwide.

Launched in 1996, Flash grew in popularity in the late 90s and 2000s as the best cross-browser multimedia player that bridged the gap between PC, Mac, and Linux.  All users had to do was install that Flash plug-in and there you have it! – access to all sorts of diverse online multimedia including interactive websites with games, animations, videos, music, ads (gasp), and more.

For businesses, implementing Adobe Flash on their websites could mean offering a more interactive user experience through unique page/content navigation or even for simpler application such as embedding a video.  When YouTube was launched in 2005, its use of Flash helped its rise to stardom.  Flash ultimately grew to such popularity that most of the internet’s popular multimedia websites required Flash to be installed.  Adobe’s Flash software gave developers the opportunity to communicate value in a whole new creative way.

This popularity, as the industry standards changed, didn’t last for long.


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The Fall of Flash and The Rise of HTML5

After 5 years of working with Flash, YouTube announced that it would be launching its HMTL5 video player in January 2010.  This switch was part of a growing trend that grew into HTML5 becoming the industry-standard markup language used to present dynamic content across the World Wide Web.  A year ago, in January 2015, YouTube announced that the YouTube player defaults to HTML5 for popular updated browsers, smart TVs, and other devices.

Bye-bye Flash.

What many would argue as the official start of Flash’s downfall was Steve Jobs’ 2010 post, “Thoughts on Flash.”  In summary, Jobs articulated all the reasons why Apple cannot continue to support the Flash software due to a variety of errors and issues.  He stated that Apple will never support Flash on the iPhone or iPad and will discontinue its future support on Mac OS X systems.  Jobs elaborated that HTML5 will likely win on mobile devices and even PCs.

Ouch.  Sorry, Adobe.

Adobe, realizing its inability to continually support Flash on new mobile devices, announced in 2011 it would drop all future mobile browser support for popular mobile device configurations.  Adobe Flash had already not been supporting Apple iOS software and this announcement confirmed Android, Blackberry, and others would not be supported anymore either.  In a digital world going more mobile each year, this support drop was another indicator of Flash losing the race against HTML5, which worked well on mobile.

To really set things off, Flash’s security bugs and risks for webhosting companies caused many industry leaders to support an ending to Flash and a push towards HTML5.  The July 2015 Hacking Team incident put these continual security bugs into the public eye – Hacking Team is a software arms dealer who relied on Flash’s vulnerabilities to create and sell hacking toolkits.  This caused the firm to be doxed, releasing hundreds of gigabytes of e-mail correspondence and source code for the firm’s exploitive software tools.  This whole incident provided intelligence that lead to the discovery of other companies exploiting the Flash software as well.  Obviously, this concerned many people and provided visible proof of Flash’s needed retirement.

Facebook CEO Alex Stamos was the first prominent figure to call out Adobe via a Tweet “to announce an end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day.” 

Alex Stamos Facebook CEO Tweet

Things were really heading south for Adobe Flash.

Soon after, Mozilla announced it will block Flash on the Firefox browser and Google did the same for Chrome.  Google Chrome updated its software such that it pauses Flash by default, forcing users to click the “play” button if they want to see Flash in action.  This was bad news for many advertisers.

Alas, the major internet browser players all announced their intentions to discontinue support for Flash and most pointed to a migration towards HTML5.  People worldwide called Adobe to focus on its other software applications and to discontinue Flash, the software that now found its niche in desktop animations and interactive gaming sites.


So What If I Have Flash Now?

If you’re a business owner and still believe a fully-immersed Flash site is the way to go, then just look at Google’s SEO algorithm and its push towards mobile-friendly websites.

If you’re using a Flash website, you can’t have your website be structured, organized, and run fast the way Google favors.  With a Flash website, you can’t rank different webpages to be found via an organic search.  And probably the most important note is that with Flash, you can’t rank online with SEO keywords because crawlers can't pick the keyword information up.

HTML5, Javascript, and CSS3, Shield Logos

You don’t encounter these problems with HTML5-based websites.

Don’t allow a disconnect between your online audience and your value offering.  Allow your website to be marketable and discoverable.

The rise to HTML5 is evident today, as it is so often used by businesses to build websites which function and feel the way that works best.  HTML5, supplemented with CSS3 and/or JavaScript, gives developers the ability to create interactive site functionalities that replace what was once Flash’s famous foothold.


We at Dorey Design Group regularly use HTML5 to develop beautiful WordPress, Drupal, and other CMS websites that create the business results you want to see.  We can help you with a redesign, whether your site still uses Flash or not.  Contact us today to learn how a website upgrade can benefit your business!


Read more from our Blog:
Local SEO Is the Way to Go
How to Filter Referral Spam in Google Analytics
5 Digital Marketing Essentials to Grow Your Business
11 Key Tips to Increase Engagement on Your Facebook Page


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