What the Death of Flash means for Online Video
By Mark Stanton, Vice President Australia and New Zealand, Brightcove
Flash has been the de facto standard for online video almost as long as the internet has been around — certainly for more than a decade. During that time, it has helped propel video as a core purpose of the internet, and helped to fundamentally change how we view entertainment in the modern age.
But 2016 will go down as the year that Flash finally died. All of the major web browsers — from Safari to Chrome — have announced plans to aggressively restrict Flash content or block it entirely, as they push HTML5 for everything from video to web analytics.
Digital media and marketing players globally have had one of two responses: they either saw it coming for years, and have put in plans to switch long ago, or they are scrambling to shore up their video platforms ahead of the imminent switch. Unfortunately it could be too late — the latter could soon find their video views and engagement rates drop off significantly as the world moves to HTML5.
Some digital marketers and even entire video platforms have been slow on the uptake, requiring their customers and users to languish on Flash and the poor performance that often delivers. While many of these platforms are beginning to offer non-Flash options in their players, this could be too little too late. These platforms remain largely untested, for performance, functionality and compatibility, making it a risky choice for those yet to take the leap to HTML5.
But there is significant opportunity in that doom-and-gloom for those who have made the right preparations. Unlike Flash, which always caused poor performance and battery life issues on devices, HTML5 video standards are highly efficient and compatible across almost any modern smart device.
Just as Flash made online video popular through portals like YouTube, HTML5 promises a completely new proliferation of rich video content across more devices than ever, boosted by interactive features that were previously impossible under the Flash platform. Digital marketers have begun creating ‘shoppable videos’ that make the process of purchasing items online more interactive and video-filled than before.
Video has always been an important part of the online experience, but will only become increasingly so. Australians are already watching more than six hours of video from social networks every week and climbing, not to mention the increasing transition of video from traditional television online. Much of this wasn’t possible in the same way before Flash.
But the transition is likely to have more than a few victims.
The death of Flash has been a long time coming. Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has led a campaign against Flash that culminated in a manifesto from Jobs himself in 2010, who laid out six major reasons the format had no future on the web and mobile. He turned out to be right.
Those marketing and media companies that have yet to make the switch are staring down at the stroke of midnight. And those that fail to capitalise on the opportunities will likely miss out and see their Flash video become the tag of years gone by.