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Product Management Blog

The occupy Flash campaign

(This post was previously posted in November 2011. I have now duplicated here for greater reach. To view the original post, please visit the LBi blog.

Denouncing Flash and beginning a campaign to swat its usage, Occupy Flash have received strong coverage in mainstream media. The first thought I had was:

“is all this really necessary?”

Shockwave Player launched in 1995, with Flash being made available to download the following year. Launching in a very different digital landscape from the one we see today, under the guise of Macromedia Flash Player. Flash was brought into the limelight with the intention of providing multimedia functionality through web browsers, something that would be sure to impress the surfers of the era.

1996 was not just the year of Flash, it was the year when; Intel launched the the Pentium Processor, where Apple was in the process of going down the pan, and the year the 16MHz Palm Pilot launched - providing computing power on the move. The era now looks a lot like the technology equivalent of the iron age, alas Flash really has lasted the test of time whether people like it or not. I would be inclined to say that Flash was the very beginning of a shift away from traditional software, putting us full steam ahead towards web based deployments mirroring traditional software functionality (think Office 365 – just minus the cloud bit!). Today it is one of the most widely deployed playback technologies ever distributed online.

Flash has provided interesting functionality to a range of different websites. It was always a firm favourite for branded micro sites, providing rich multimedia experiences for visitors. A sole reliance on Flash for web design is in decline, for a number of obvious reasons. However, this has been aided through a well publicised spat between Steve Jobs and Adobe’s pride and joy. This saw a rejuvenated campaign of anti-flash sentiment making itself known amongst the Apple crowd.

Today the desire to adopt HTML5 and CSS3 is front and centre, heralded as a saviour from buggy browsing on the internet. With Adobe announcing the retirement of Flash Lite (mobile), the Occupy Flash campaign and Microsoft’s exclusion from the Windows 8 Metro UI Internet Explorer - the future does indeed look bleak.

It seems industry are putting a focus on Adobe in general, not just Flash. Many articles and commentators have overlooked what Adobe actually provides. As mentioned by Carlous Naxareno within an article on the Thenextweb, Adobe is very much in the business of creating and selling design based tools. With a reaffirmed commitment to develop software that aids the design of HTML5/CSS3 websites, Adobe are on positive track in what could have been a tough time.

Website traffic from mobile devices is constantly on the rise and with a ongoing debate around the absence of Flash on the new Google Phone, it becomes hard to for see continued strong development in this area. However, actively encouraging its downfall seems unnecessary, with a successful outcome only limiting the reach of web based multimedia.

Markers need to be savvy and pick and choose their technologies. This is no different. A campaign against technology is never one I would choose to be a part of.