Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

HTML5 Triumphant: Silverlight, Flash Discontinuing

With browser plug-ins all but dead, the only thing standing between open standards and complete dominance are apps.

  • November 9, 2011

You could hardly ask for a more ringing endorsement of the future of HTML5 and a Web based on open, common standards than Adobe and Microsoft’s near-simultaneous leaks announcing the impending disconinuation of their respective rich media browser plug-ins, Flash and Silverlight.

As The Verge points out, Microsoft’s announcement was not unexpected—in the past, Redmond has called HTML5 “the future.Adobe’s announcement was much more unexpected. As recently as last summer, Adobe told me that Flash was here to stay and that their new development platform for HTML5, called Edge, was merely a supplement to their existing Flash toolchain.

But so much for all that. As IDC analyst Al Hilwa pointed out in a note he sent to reporters this morning:

Eating your own children is standard operating procedure for successful tech companies. HTML5 is coming on strong as a standard, accelerated by the speed of change of hardware devices. By 2013 we will reach a point where 90% of smartphones and tablets will sport HTML5 capable browsers.

Al Hilwa notes, however, that Flash for desktop PCs is going to stick around a while yet.

We don’t expect 90% of desktop browsers to be capable of HTML5 until 2015 so the differentiation that Flash provides in high-end graphics and video protection continues and Adobe will continue to invest in it.

So what’s next? How about web apps versus native apps. As lucrative as Apple’s app store has been—and as potentially lucrative as other app stores, like Amazon’s, may become—in this space there is already a fusion between native code and open standards, so-called hybrid apps. Whether fragmentation will push more developers to HTML5, where they can code once and, with little fanfare, see their work delivered to every one of an increasing panoply of devices, remains to be seen.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.