Steve Jobs of Apple explained why the company’s products, like the iPhone and iPad, don’t support Flash and why users don’t seem to mind that. As he explained, although 75% of video on the Web is in Flash format, most of that (66%) is also available in H.264 – which Apple products support as part of HTML5.
TechCrunch backed this up with a chart provided by Encoding.com, which shows that of the 5 million videos they encoded over the past year, the largest chunk of them (that 66%) were in H.264. Flash represents only 26%, by contrast.
Another element mentioned by Steve Jobs is that 40% of video viewing on the Internet is done on YouTube, which supports H.264 as well.
Microsoft, apparently, agrees with Apple on this. In a blog post, MS’ general manager for Internet Explorer blogged that Microsoft believes that HTML5 will be the future of the Web and IE9 will support it.
It would appear that the days of Flash are numbered. HTML5 will support browser-based players (rather than add-ons or plug-ins or site-based players) displaying H.264 video directly. This bypasses the middleman and the need for Flash products altogether and opens up a whole new realm of design possibilities for websites.
As Wired points out, however, Adobe is none too happy with this three-pronged attack (Google has also chimed in, favoring HTML5/H.264). Of course, ex-engineers at Adobe sing a different tune, so the drama plays on. Flash and related technologies are a big part of Adobe’s software income – most aimed at the developers and designers who build them. The less relevant Flash-based tech becomes on the Web, the less often designer/developers are going to be worried about having Adobe’s tools in their boxes.
It appears that with the adoption of HTML5, which seems to be a foregone conclusion now, Flash will become less and less relevant around the Web. Expect to see it virtually gone within a few years. Unless it manages to hang on tenaciously like IE6, never quite going away..