Adobe says it will ditch the Flash Player at the end of 2020. It says open standards such as HTML5 mean Flash is no longer needed.
Rather than use the verb “kill”, Adobe instead says it will “end-of-life” Flash, specifically that it will stop distributing the player and issuing updates in 2020, though it will continue adding security fixes until then, as well as working on any browser and operating system compatibility problems.
It also adds that it will “move more aggressively to EOL Flash in certain geographies where unlicensed and outdated versions of Flash Player are being distributed.”
Following the announcement, Google noted that in 2014, 80 percent of people running the desktop version of Chrome visited a site with Flash content each day. Now that figure is just 17 percent. It plans to continue its existing policy of increasing the range of situations where it will require the user to click to play Flash content rather than autoplay it. At some point in the next three years it will disable Flash by default in all cases, before simply blocking it completely in late 2020.
Most of the criticism of Flash in recent years has been over security and reliability problems. It was famously unsupported by Apple mobile devices from the outset at Steve Jobs’s behest. There’s a strong argument that the move towards mobile web surfing spelled doom for Flash.
There’s no denying Flash played an important part in the early development of multimedia web pages, particularly with an interactive element. However, as somebody who was taking an interest in the online world in the late 90s and early 2000s, I also recall the development of the term “Flashturbation” to describe situations where a web designer’s need to show off their skills and creativity took precedence over usability and helpfulness for the page visitor.