The fall of Flash and the triumph of web standards

The Fall of the Flash

We leave This story in 2006 when, hand in hand with YouTube and other streaming websites and games, Flash was consolidated as the technology that owns interactivity and multimedia on the Internet. But, a year later, a new device would start the process that ended on the last day of 2020.

In 2006 Adobe buys Macromedia, Both companies were developing graphic design software, and the acquisition allowed Adobe to not only get rid of competing products, but also to enter the web design market. Adobe was never very Linux friendly and the development of the player for Linux would be stopped until disappearing in 2012.  If you wanted to continue watching Flash content, you had to install the Chrome browser. since Google was in charge of developing a compatible plugin.

In 2016 when the need for Flash, and consequently its market share decreased dramatically, Adobe wanted to resurrect the player for Linux and promised updates on par with Windows and Mac. But, it was too late.

The Fall of the Flash

One year after Adobe bought Macromedia, the iPhone is launched. Adobe was never able to develop a working version of Flash without consuming most of the new device's resources, so  three years later, Steve Jobs (or, if we believe the HIstory channel, the aliens advising him) decided to exclude him from the device.

We must take into account two things, the first is the charisma of Steve Jobs. If he said you didn't need something, millions of people around the world stopped needing it. The second is that Better alternatives were already beginning to appear.

Already in 2004, Apple itself, together with Mozilla and Opera, had formed a working group to develop a new version of HTML, the language for creating web pages. This new version would include technologies to add interactivity and incorporate multimedia content to the web. The following year, the W3C consortium joins the project.

Let's be clear that the Jobs thing was not for the love of open standards. The iPhone came with its own game and app store ecosystem. And, Flash, allowed you to create games and applications to use online. Eliminating Flash meant eliminating the competition.

SIf you were a web developer and you wanted your sites to be seen in Apple products, you had to start using HTML5, CSS3 and JavacriptSince as of 2008 there were already desktop browsers compatible with the new standard, the effort to have two different pages stopped making sense.

Finally Adobe abandons the development of Flash for Android in 2012.

The big blow to this technology undoubtedly came from the same driver. YouTube started testing an HTML5 player in 2010.

Silverlight

In 2007 Microsoft launched its own solution to compete with the Adobe product. It was called Silverlight and it had an open source counterpart called Moonlight. Personally, I never got Moonlight to work.

Silverlight was relatively successful in the corporate market. In fact fue the technology used in principle by Netflix and other content providersor. However, Microsoft itself joined the HTML5 development working group and was an enthusiastic broadcaster of the standard. In 2013, Netflix began a mobile pilot test of an HTML5 player.

DRM

The last nail in Flash's coffin was put by the W3C in 2017.

The World Wide Web Consortium is the entity that oversees the development of web standards. After much discussion, he approved the use of an extension called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).

Thanks to this extension, multimedia content providers could implement anti-copy solutions on content viewed with HTML5 players. If you enter sites like Netflix or Spotify for the first time from Linux, you will see a message from your browser asking you to install an additional component. It is precisely the one that allows deciphering the transmitted content.

The last years of his life Flash was a security nightmare (The joke was that they found code among its bugs) and, after the main browsers announced that they were going to block it, Adobe announced that it would discontinue it in 2020.


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