What Really Matters in the Flash Debate

Technology companies should serve the needs of the end user, even when it’s hard to do.

In a recent TechCrunch article, LiveRail’s head of client services Vijay Balan posed the familiar “Flash is Dead” argument, using some unnecessarily harsh rhetoric (i.e., “the upcoming Flash-pocalypse.”) As expected, this stirred up a snarky flash debate between partisans of Flash and HTML5. Balan’s piece focused on digital video publishers, but the issue impacts other users of online video—especially eLearning professionals.

To be clear, Flash is an older, desktop-centric technology in the late stage of its existence. For mobile devices—particularly those running Apple iOS—it’s a non-starter. However, the partisan debate is an oversimplification. The unasked question is how developers should support those who still depend on Flash—and there are many.

Viddler has many clients with hundreds or thousands of users still using IE8 and Windows XP, even though Microsoft no longer supports them. For those users, Flash works and HTML5 does not. Yes, HTML5 offers much in the way of efficiency and video interactivity. Viddler’s own HTML5 Arpeggio player is a great example. However, in the real world, existing infrastructure matters. Not everyone is chucking their desktop PC for an iOS tablet.

It’s difficult to support both video technologies—which Viddler does, every day—but we’re supposed to be in the business of supporting people and businesses, not shaming them for using an older or “uncool” technology.


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