Back in the ’90s, the proprietary browser plugin everyone hated was called RealPlayer. It was buggy and annoying and insisted on using proprietary UI widgets all over the place, but it let you do things that no other piece of software let you do: stream audio and video. I can’t find any reliable-looking stats on the penetration RealPlayer eventually achieved, but I’m pretty sure it was by the far the most widely-installed streaming audio/video player in the world years ago Now, I can’t remember the last time I used a computer with RealPlayer installed.
I hate it when people write prognostications that go “because of similarity X, what occured in situation A ten years ago will occur in situation B ten years from now,” ignoring differences Y1…Yn, and that’s not what I’m trying to say. What I’m saying is, Flash’s incredibly broad penetration is certainly no guarantee that things will never change.
Tom Arah’s piece also brings up two additional pet peeves in Flash-related journalism: it assumes Steve Jobs’ engineering argument is being made in bad faith with no evidence to support this point (Speaking for myself, I would be shocked if it was not extremely difficult to get good performance out of Flash player on current mobile devices. Its difficult to get good performance scrolling a table view on relatively recent iPhones.), and it conflates the use of Flash Player as a streaming video container with Flash Player as ‘all the other stuff Flash can do’. If you could snap your fingers and make Flash Player run perfectly on iOS devices now, leaving out the streaming video, what would you get? Remember, there’s no hovering for site navigation, there’s no keyboard for games, there’s no mouse and the closest thing we have to a click, a tap, is around 40px wide. What existing non-video Flash content becomes engaging, or even passable, in this case?
My experience running ClickToFlash leads me to believe the main thing for me is restaurant phone numbers.