See, this is what you get when you have too much time on your hands ;-)
I had the honour of attending an absolutely fantastic dinner last week hosted by Robin from Adobe to get feedback on how Flash is doing and how it can be best used by UK digital agencies. Attending were a bunch of well known industry miscreants from Lightmaker, Kerb, Hi-Res, Lbi, Underwired, Us two & Iris Digital plus my unemployed self.
It was a great opportunity to think and discuss the role of Flash in 2010 and I thought I’d share!
Disclosure: 1) I use a Mac and 2) I installed click2flash some time ago and my laptop battery has thanked me for it.
There has been much discussion about Flash in recent weeks around Apple & Adobe’s relationship – I’m not terribly interested in that, to be honest it’s more about dollars and cents than providing a better user experience, so I’m not going to add to the muck slinging.
As I see it and what I find interesting is that Flash is entering a stage of it’s development that isn’t dissimilar to where Director was a decade ago.
Whilst the technology is mature and well adopted it’s not clear exactly what its purpose is anymore. Lets think about what it currently is used for:
Banners / Overlays – Face it, folk hate overlays and their effectiveness is plummeting plus ad blocking is now common place so that’s not a future.
Flash Sites – It’s been a very very long time since a client turned round to me and requested a big bloated multimedia experience – which is where Flash excelled. In fact in the last year I’ve had more clients express a preference as say that they didn’t want flash on the site which tells you something.
Flash Navigation – Accessibility and common sense did away with that, not going to miss it.
Flash Components on Sites – yep, they are everywhere but the vast majority of them (at least the sites I look at) are simply glorified news tickers which could be quickly and easily implemented is HTML these days
Flash Video – There were no alternatives, but now there are just look at Vimeo & youtube. Realistically video playback should be have been browser native for the last few years anyway.
Games – Ah – well here we go – there isn’t anything (with the exception of Silverlight) that allows you to make (certain types of) games well in browser – definitely scope there if you are into that kind of thing. Casual & Social gaming is peaking right now and Flash is a great tool for these kinds of things.
On Mobile (in Browser)
See above. The launch of 10.1 is nice if you want that ‘rich’ mobile experience but I’m happy with the stripped down gimme-the-fact’s and get rid of the bling efficiency that’s required when wandering down the street.
On Mobile (Applications)
Definitely something in this, whether it’s “Appstore” or the newly announced multi-provider “NotAppStoreHonest” there is no getting away from the fact that having a solid and familiar development environment to develop mobile applications is extremely compelling. I’m both excited and scared to see what the mobile output from CS5 is likely to be. Unfortunately, and this has absolutely nothing to do with Flash, the problem with Apps in general is the rapid commoditisation of the whole sector and general inability to find good ones.
As with mobile apps, Air apparently (not a developer) allows reasonably quick and painless cross platform development – at least for certain types of Apps.
The implementation of flash at the moment on all three platforms is a few steps behind the current ones I’m sure that’ll be addressed at some point but if you look back at the first point, all the same things apply plus you’ve got the 10 foot view to consider, not least it’s a pain in the arse navigating a flash site (or any sites for the most part) on a console
Not applicable. Eh? So you can’t just simply port your lovely little casual game to Wiiware, XBLA or PSN? Missed opportunity or what – casual gaming is all the rage right now, surely you would want to continue the experience from playing at work to playing at home?
Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that Flash has reached a cross roads, it’s been all things to all people for a good decade. I have this feeling that Adobe should be focusing on where the strengths of the platform lie and what contexts are most appropriate. Is it a browser plugin or an app development environment?
Simply put what is Flash for these days?
Hence the identity crisis: I’m sure there are a few of you out there who have an opinion, bring it ;-)