It appears to be one of the hottest questions being asked by clients since the Apple iPhone and iPad hit the market sans the ever-popular application's functionality. In an effort to shine some light on the growing concerns over Flash and its future, I've decided to post some of the responses and solutions I've picked up while looking into the issue.
In June, I was fortunate enough to attend the HOW Design Conference in Denver, CO, and in the event's final multimedia panel, this hot topic of Adobe vs. Apple and the future Flash was a major discussion point. The panel hosted such great minds as Cameron Moll, the legendary author/freelancer and founder of Authentic Jobs, Inc.; Matthew Richmond, executive creative director/partner of The Chopping Block, Inc. in New York City; and Patrick McNeil, owner of web trending entity, Design Meltdown, LLC. The panel brought up some really good points.
Read more after the jump...
iPad is still a novelty.
Matthew Richmond and Patrick McNeil raised the point that "tablet computers are nothing new", although iPad is the newest model and a pretty slick addition to the lineage of tablets, it's just the newest in a long line of computers that faded into obscurity.
Looking back, there were slate-style systems as early as 2001, and believe it or not, the stylus device was first proposed in 1888 by visionary Elisha Gray, who helped develop the telephone. I, being the geek that I am, can't help but think of the original 1960's Star Trek electronic clipboards, operated though a stylus; or Stanley Kubrick's imaginings of flatscreen tablets wirelessly playing videos in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1982) which eerily similar to the iPad.
The point is, iPad could fade. People might loose interest, or a PC market competitor might engineer a better tablet that does use Flash and Apple is back to innovating their next take-over device. iPad is still very new. Honestly, no one knows what rabbit trail the tablet market will go down, but my gut says we will see newer models with Flash capabilities soon, or at the very least, some brilliant mind out there will crack a way to make it possible.
While doing work with many clients in the east Texas area, namely the cities of Longview and Kilgore, we stuck with flash for the artsy bits of the site used for promotions. For what we wanted to accomplish on these sites, Flash was simply the best alternative for allowing dynamic motion and that wow-factor our clients were after. As a solution to iPhones and iPads, we've programmed in a way to present an alternate image to those select users to avoid the nasty blue icon normally associated with missing Flash.
There's nothing better.
You may have heard about HTML5 and it's "flashy" likeness and how it might be the death knell for Flash. The panel did not agree. "Flash is simply too powerful," says Mr. Richmond.
Standard HTML appears to be missing many crucial features such as immersive graphical UIs, motion tweening, shiny UI effects, "skip intro" buttons and, a biggie, audio and video control. Enter HTML 5 - which includes audio and video elements and animation elements. See Youtube, etc...) But, with all the bells and whistles being developed with HTML5, the panel believed that Flash was still "better than anything else out there." Although, they also said to keep your eye on HTML5, given time, it could really compete.
HTML5 struggles now with compatibility. Currently, it functions only in Google Chrome and Safari fully. Granted, Firefox is working on it and... IE.. ug... I don't even want to talk about that browser. Compatibility alone could keep HTML5 out of serious contention for years to come. "It's all too new" and "No one knows what it can do yet," were a couple of the comments from the panel. Flash, being browser compliant across the board, is still a great selling point.
The panel's final word.
"Flash isn't going anywhere, at least not anytime soon."
Here's some more links to articles that I've read on the issue.