The Slow Death of Adobe Flash

The once dominant Web technology falls due to this slow mobile development

Adobe ended a long fight against creeping irrelevance last week by announcing that it will stop building new versions of its Flash technology for smartphone browsers.

Flash has long been one of the dominant media technologies on the Web. It powered the majority of online video and games, and brands often built their websites with Flash, seeing it as a way to deliver slick marketing material. But the process of making Flash work on mobile devices was slow, and Apple's infamous refusal to support it on the iPhone or iPad has finally struck it a fatal blow.

Flash's importance has been waning, says John Matejczyk, founder and executive creative director at agency MUH-TAY-ZIK | HOF-FER. Clients are less interested in Flash microsites, and at this point, Matejczyk says, the only thing his agency builds in Flash is banner advertising.

Mark Silva, senior vice president of emerging platforms at Anthem, predicts that there will be some "short-term pain" as developers try to learn a new set of skills, but he believes some skills can be reapplied to new technologies. Besides, the process of replacing old technology with new is inevitable.

Adobe isn't killing Flash outright. The company says it will focus on powering Flash content in non-mobile browsers. Still, the announcement feels like an admission of defeat. "A lot of people have been whittling away at Flash from around the edges, but this is a death from within the family," Matejczyk says.