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Adobe EOL Flash, Everything Continues To Move To Mobile

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TL; DR:  Adobe have announced the official EOL for Flash, with a 3.5 year lead in period to December 31st 2020. Legacy apps need to be refreshed or retired.

Adobe announced the official EOL for Flash earlier today. While not a surprise given the decline in Flash usage over the last decade, the move still has implications for many older websites, applications and corporate IT departments.  Adobe have co-ordinated this announcement with a number of other vendors, including AppleFacebookGoogleMicrosoft and Mozilla to help make the transition easy for developers.

The web has morphed from the early days of flash to a mobile first environment. One only must spend a few moments looking around in any public location to see how people are consuming content. We recently had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at some of the operations for Wimbledon courtesy of IBM, and one status screen particuarly caught my attention.

The above picture was taken on July 10th, just over half way through the tournament. The split between mobile and desktop page views on the main Wimbledon website was hovering at about 80/20. Keeping in mind that most of the play at Wimbledon occurs during working hours in the UK, and you can see just how dramatic the shift is.

The same, and even more extreme, splits are playing out across multiple other markets and regions. India, for example, is expected to pass 450 million internet users by November 2017, with mobile having already leapfrogged desktop computers for access in rural areas. In China almost 95% of internet users used a mobile device for accessing content in 2016.

Flash never had a real chance to establish itself in mobile as Apple never approved it for use on iOS, and it was dropped from Android back in 2012. As the macro trends and shifts have played out mobile browser support for everything from HTML5, to a variety of JavaScript frameworks, to CSS support has reached the same level of functionality, and some might argue surpassed, as that of the desktop.

That said there are still many flash, flex and air apps in the wild, particularly behind corporate IT firewalls and companies need to put a plan in place. Jeffery Hammond at Forrester has published a handy quick triage guide that companies may find useful.

Disclaimers: Adobe, Google, Microsoft and IBM are current RedMonk clients.

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