I am writing this post after a Flash / Flex user group meeting. I am writing this post after seeing some of the unreleased or Alpha features of the next Flash player. I am writing this post after experiencing with the Molehill 3D Api.
Flash is ubiquitous, from connected TVs to handphones, from PCs to chumby devices. Yes we all know that. There have been hardships in packaging Flash lite content on Nokia phones( most widespread phone) and suffered in controversies from Apple. We also know that. But what I see is a new dimension of Flash that has emerged over the few years. Social gaming has become so big that it has overhauled Electronic Arts. Adobe saw the tablet and devices explosion coming in 2009 and started the Openscreen Project, to bring its technology on all range of devices. And today, flash is sitting on every device I can imagine. So I do strongly believe that Flash is gonna be around for quite some time in our future ( in fact, fabricate our digital future).
The number of people playing games on the internet and facebook is easily higher than those playing on their XBox, PSPs. MAC and Linux users have always felt the deficiency of mind blowing 3D games. Whereas, Windows users have the luxury of DirectX. Adobe, shortly is going to release Molehill API which was demo’ed last year in Adobe MAX, which is cross-platform. Get a glimpse, here. Can you imagine this amount of 3D content running inside the browser and being GPU accelerated ?
Google and few other companies together launched (few months back), webGL plugins on Google Chrome. But the problem with them is, the web programmer has to learn OpenGL (which is a night-mare to even hardcore coders). So, its going to take atleast half- a decade for web developers to create content on WebGl. And the only way, I see 3D games coming to the browser is through Flash. Again, here there is a challenge. Analyzing gaming trends on facebook and mobiles tells us that casual games are making it big than graphics rich, GPU accelerated games. But if you had seen the Molehill demo I saw, you would be convinced that EA Sports would soon launch the next iteration of Need for Speed on facebook or mobiles.
Flash has also moved to other streams like support for new game controller devices and also 3D Video playback( yes, no joke). These seem pretty exciting.
As many predict, the rise of HTML5 will dethrone Flash in a few ways. Flash based ads will soon extinguish. Many youtube videos might be in the new HTML5 video format. More and more, visual effects and eye-candy will be created in HTML5. It may lose to native mobile applications in performance. But from what I see, Adobe’s focus has moved. With AIR, its targeting Desktop applications. Most RIAs today are created on Adobe AIR. Adobe’s evangelists are now focusing more on showcasing Flash as a gaming and enterprise applications platform. And few years down the line, we might see Flash reigning in an all together new space.