Steve Jobs’ Impact on Flash’s Demise and The Benefits of HTML5

Adobe’s Flash Player dominated the internet for what felt like an entire age. Small, hand crafted games, animations and web elements were all created using the Flash Player and to many it felt that this age would never end. However, there were some detriments to the Flash Player that steadily showed through the ages, pointed out by the late and great Steve Jobs in April 2010 as heralded HTML5 technology.

But was Steve Jobs the reason for the death of Flash, or were there other reasons, websites and creators behind what seemed to be an inevitable fall of Adobe’s ancient program? Moreover, why is HTML5 better and how does it improve on Flash’s architecture? Read on to find out.

Why HTML5?

Before the dawn of YouTube and Twitch, there was a site called Newgrounds, which many credit as one of the biggest promotions of the Flash Player. It contains over twenty years of content created in flash, from games to videos and animations, and is where many people went to before the age of YouTube to watch comedy skits. This was before the time when mobile phones were such a popular way to browse the internet, so few noticed a large flaw in Flash: It was insanely resource intensive. Whilst this was fine for those browsing on a computer, as phones became more prevalent it was clear that Flash was an issue for the mobile market.

But what about HTML5? Well, HTML5 games are some of the most popular on the market for two distinct reasons: they have great quality and are light on resources. Take a game like Throne: Kingdom at War. Though this game has excellent graphics and a lot of different gameplay features, the game itself is so light on resources that it is playable at high rates across all modern mobile devices, something that games on the Flash Player were never capable of due to the intense drain they had on CPU and RAM usage. Farmville is another example: a simple game embedded within Facebook, which endeared fans due to its simplicity.

HTML5 has another huge bonus: it simply runs through any browser. Those who remember using sites powered by Flash may remember having to install a plug-in to whichever browser you were using at the time, something that could often take up a lot more RAM than you wanted it to, or even had the capability to provide. HTML5, on the other hand, works through the HTML present on each website, meaning that it is a language native to every browser. This way, anyone can run a game, animation or web element written in HTML5 without having to install some strange plug-in or have a high end computer.

Did Steve Jobs Kill Flash?

The short answer to this question is: no, he didn’t. Adobe shut it down as they saw that it was too old to continue supporting and sadly too far gone to try and bring it back. However, it could be fair to say that Steve Jobs had a hand in this due to his very scathing review of the program and its effectiveness on mobile devices, stating that Apple would not support Flash on any of its devices. “We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now.”Jobs is quoted as saying “We have never seen it.”

But was Apple’s unsupportiveness the only thing that killed it? Likely not. After the heady days of Newgrounds, many of the popular sites created thereafter moved away from using Flash Player, letting it slowly fade into obscurity. YouTube, Twitch and Twitter moved into using HTML and Javascript to power it’s interactive elements and many creators followed suit. One of the biggest Flash creators Alan Becker, known best for his series Animator Vs Animation, moved towards YouTube as his primary uploading platform as well as many others like him. The places that used Flash became less and less popular, most Flash based sites that saw traffic became those that hosted large arrays of flash games.

Then, in 2015, HTML5 released and showed the world the prowess HTML games had over Flash powered ones, and many creators took to using the new tools available to make new and faster games, or began porting their Flash creations into the faster engine. Flash games decreased rapidly after this point, and soon Adobe released a statement saying that they would stop updating and supporting the Flash Player. Thus was the end of Adobe’s Flash Player and the unplayable legacy that it left behind.

It is not fair to say that Steve Jobs or Apple killed HTML5. Though there may have been influence from the mega corporation, the main reason Flash fell was that it simply couldn’t keep up with the newer and better tools that were being developed, not to mention the fact that they were released for free to the masses. Sadly, nothing made with Flash can be accessed today, but a wealth of Flash games and animations were ported to other systems, so some of the oldest creations can still be accessed to this day.

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