Today Adobe finally ended speculation and made formal the long-expected death of the Flash Player technology that has played such a strong role in web-based conferencing products. The company will stop updating and distributing Flash Player at the end of 2020. Adobe says it will continue to support the product until that time, but you can expect vendors to increase the pace of their efforts to move away from Flash dependencies.
I would expect that IT departments will also be ramping up their pressure to ban Flash on employee computers, making for an uncomfortable transition period as current web conferencing products become inoperative for larger numbers of participants.
Adobe Flash has been under attack for a long time, with the beginning of the end signaled in 2010 as Steve Jobs published an open letter entitled "Thoughts on Flash." He effectively banned Flash from use on Apple devices and mentioned HTML5 as the best candidate for a replacement technology (WebRTC came along the following year as a Google open source project). Apple eventually capitulated and allowed Flash content in 2011.
I started reporting on "The Problem With Flash" in February of 2009, and I have tried to keep up with developments, trends, and rumors ever since. If you want to take a walk down memory lane, you can visit some of these posts from The Webinar Blog:
A Pessimistic Look At Flash (Jan 2010)
- Dealing With Flash For Webinar Participants (Aug 2010)
- Warning! Larks Vomit! (Oct 2010)
- Is This The Death Knell For Flash-Based Web Conferencing? (Nov 2011)
- Flash In Chrome Browser Causing Problems (Aug 2012)
- Chrome Now Disables Flash By Default (Dec 2016)
- Is WebRTC Another Flash Debacle Waiting To Happen? (May 2017)
Buckle up during the transition. There are likely to be some nasty bumps in the road as capabilities we had learned to expect with Flash no longer work the same way with HTML5/WebRTC.