Adobe Flash has taken another serious hit in what analysts are calling its “death by a thousand cuts”, after Google announced it would block Flash ads from auto-playing on its Chrome browser.
Making its position clear earlier this month, Google announced it would pause Flash animations on adverts by default in a bid to speed up web browsing, boost mobile battery life and improve user security. Videos will only be played if a user chooses to click on them.
As 63 per cent of all web users now run Chrome, this represents a huge potential loss for Adobe; yet another blow for the company, on top of Apple’s long-held ban on Flash videos across its range of iPods, iPhones and iPads. In addition, Mozilla temporarily blocked Flash on its Firefox browser after a vulnerability emerged that could have allowed attackers to crash a system or even take it over entirely, though that ban has since been lifted.
Worried advertisers currently using Flash ads will have the option of converting animated videos to HTML5, so they can play automatically, without the need for separate coded versions.
Final nail in the coffin?
So could this be the final nail in Flash’s coffin and what would the demise of this software actually mean for users? Our browsing experience in a world without Flash might be quicker and more secure, however, some commentators point to a reduction in choice when it comes to advertising. Wired’s Julia Greenberg insisted that the death of Flash would bring about much less competition in the market – driving people instead to the industry’s much bigger players, such as Facebook ads or Google AdWords.
Despite calling autoplay ads a “much despised technology,” she claimed that Flash’s death would bring with it even tougher times for publishers reliant on ad revenue, eventually resulting in “fewer choices” for their readers.
Her comments were backed up by Ben Edelman, a professor at Harvard Business School. He drew attention to what could be seen as a vested interest by Google. In limiting the functionality of Flash ads on Chrome, the search giant could effectively drive advertisers to its own AdWords platform – generating much more revenue as a result.