Newspaper article

The Death of Flash, and What It Means for News Sites (and Consumers)

Newspaper article

The Death of Flash, and What It Means for News Sites (and Consumers)

Article excerpt

It's hard to find anyone mourning the death of Flash. And I don't mean the comic book superhero. But rather the balky, perpetually updating and eminently hackable video-playing software responsible, until recently, for making everything from YouTube to ads on websites run more or less effectively.

The Star Tribune sent a note recently touting itself as the first news organization in the state to completely transition from Flash to the new gold standard, HTML-5, a system heavily pushed by Google, which promises much greater speed and security and, oh, by the way, a far better experience for advertisers.

Ray Faust, the paper's VP for Sales and Emerging Media explains, "?If you follow this stuff?, you know that both Google and Firefox have been very upfront about trying to push their browsers away from Flash and over to HTML-5, and of course Apple has been fighting with Flash (owned by Adobe but in reality a kind of step-child system it picked up via the acquisition of Macromedia 10 years ago) for what seems like forever."

No kidding. Here's Steve Jobs' semi-famous ?memo on Flash?: "Everything about Flash is pretty much outdated. It uses an inordinate amount of memory, which slows down your processor, which means web sites load slower and batteries wear out faster. Google, which makes a lot of money from banner ads can't make this change- over fast enough."

Even non--nerds may have noticed a growing number of grayed--out boxes on websites they visit, some telling you to manually click somewhere to allow Flash to play videos. Obviously, when these big gray blanks are obscuring advertising that is still struggling to achieve anything close to sustainability for commercial news organizations, everyone has a problem.

There was, Faust admits, a push to get this Flash--to--HTML5 business cleaned up before the "Q4" Christmas--buying season. And with "10--plus creative folks" designing ads in the Strib's own shop, they got it done.

The clunkiness of Flash may be issue No. 1 for advertising interests. But for the rest of us, the issue is the wretched security. According to reports, Adobe is now actively encouraging the migration away from Flash because of its vulnerability to hacking, an on-going nightmare that has the company's engineers putting out fires 24/7 and eating up a lot of time that might be spent on more profitable ventures. …

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