(Disclaimer: I work in the advertising industry which utilize Flash for advertising opportunities.)
Chrome made the announcement that coming December, Chrome 55 will disable Flash by default and you’ll be prompted to enable Flash. This changes the game for a lot of advertising companies and publishing house that still rely on Flash to serve video.
Here’s the blog post:
Flash and Chrome
Today, more than 90% of Flash on the web loads behind the scenes to support things like page analytics. This kind of Flash slows you down, and starting this September, Chrome 53 will begin to block it. HTML5 is much lighter and faster, and publishers are switching over to speed up page loading and save you more battery life. You’ll see an improvement in responsiveness and efficiency for many sites.
In December, Chrome 55 will make HTML5 the default experience, except for sites which only support Flash. For those, you’ll be prompted to enable Flash when you first visit the site. Aside from that, the only change you’ll notice is a safer and more power-efficient browsing experience.
Flash is primarily used for advertisements and games, hardly for analytics purposes as far as I know.
Why browser and device vendors hate Flash so much?
Battery consumption and ability to optimize
Flash exists in a time where it is the only consistent way to play videos across platforms and browsers. The downside to this is that this hinders browser innovation to make videos run smoother. As the custodian of such a critical video distribution format, Adobe has done little to optimize video playing under browsers. Part of this is due to the separation of concerns enacted by the browsers plugin sandbox system.
The Adobe lockin
Essentially using Adobe Flash meant that you’re locked in their ecosystem. There’s a fundamental difference in ideology here where web browsers prefer work that has gone through collaboration.
As video becomes more and more prominent, browsers are starting to catch up with video streaming technologies. One of the reasons Flash stuck for so long is Mozilla’s insistence of not introducing DRM tools for quite a while. Netflix has their way when they supported browsers that works well with DRM. Today, Mozilla reversed the anti-DRM stance. With tighter integration, browsers introduce features such as tab-based muting.
Privacy and security issues
Flash implements its own set of cookies that is managed independently from the browser. Browsers aren’t able to clear cookies in there in the user’s command. This caused unscrupulous ad tracking companies to take advantage of this loophole and track user behaviors here. Often battery is cited as an issue, but the other main reason will be privacy.
Who loses as Flash disappears?
Advertisers are key users of Flash. Blocking Flash does remove a lot of advertisements for the end users. Browsers get happy users, web content publishers lost their ability to monetize.
The losers at this time are designers who lost their workflow for using Flash to design interactive advertisements. Some advertising companies are losing out too and are transiting inventory toward Flash. It’s not going to be easy.