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Six reasons why Flash won't die

Heralding HTML 5 is premature, say analysts

Many are predicting Flash's days are numbered. However, we've rounded up six reasons why this may not be the case.

Co-existence

Largely lost in all the HTML 5 vs. Flash rhetoric is the possibility that the two technologies might simply work side by side. "I'm never really sure why HTML 5 and Flash can't co-exist," says Cote, "why it's a zero-sum game."

Rubin of NPD predicts that "within the next few years, we will likely see sites support both technologies. They will be able to achieve much of what they've traditionally done with Flash with HTML 5, but there's no doubt that Flash will also continue to evolve and offer incentives to maintain its developer support".

YouTube is a good example. Although the site still relies on Flash for most of its video delivery, it recently launched an HTML 5 front end that lets iPhone and iPad users watch videos on its site - an interactive experience rivalling that of the official YouTube app for these Apple devices.

Alongside this approach, companies like Coincident TV, Greystripe and RevShock are betting on a need for technologies that allow content creators and online advertisers to readily convert Flash-based content to HTML 5, or to initially create content that's compatible with both platforms. This middle-ground approach may be temporary, or the way things could be from this point forward.

"I don't think any sole company can replicate all of Adobe's ability, but certainly innovation is already happening in finding bridges between various technologies, so that any format works on any device," says Dane Holewinski, director of marketing at Greystripe.

Such cooperation among all the online web media technologies, whether proprietary (Flash, Silverlight) or open source (HTML 5), is likely to ensure Flash's relevance beyond the near future.

Don't count out Silverlight

Like Flash, Microsoft's proprietary Silverlight platform is used to create media-rich web experiences. Silverlight is a key development component for the company's upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile platform. The company has also released a version of Silverlight for Symbian devices.

Silverlight, which has built-in copy protection, is used by video powerhouse Netflix. Netflix users are required to download and install Silverlight on their computers so they can watch streaming movies through the on-demand service. (Amazon's Video On Demand service, on the other hand, runs on Flash.)

Although Silverlight hasn't caught on widely as either a video or animation delivery platform on the web, RedMonk's Cote thinks the technology still has a shot if Microsoft markets it to companies that have an interest in selling copy-protected video streams.

"If Silverlight is used as the No. 1 way to do DRM-friendly video - think how many cable and satellite operators there are, how many movie houses, TV interests, all of them wanting a way to deliver video on the web and make money at it - then it will be able to get Flash-like ubiquity," he says.

See also: Adobe patches 6 'critical' bugs in Flash

  1. Heralding HTML 5 as the new web media king is premature
  2. Strong tools and support for developers
  3. Popularity with online advertisers
  4. Video codec patent issues
  5. Co-existence

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