HTML5 Poised To Kill Off Flash And Silverlight: Potential Negative Impact For Innovations In DAM Interfaces?

As described in both this article and this one by, the days of proprietary plug-ins like Flash and Silverlight look numbered.  From the first article about Flash:

Shunned by Apple’s iOS and Windows Phones, and offering a spotty experience on Android, Flash on mobile platforms has had a rough ride. One that may be coming to an end as Adobe puts in a couple of workarounds and quietly sends the web platform to join other retired mobile technologies. Despite attempts through Flash Builder and Flex to encourage developers to use Flash for all devices, it looks like the end is nigh. The news should be officially announced soon, and follows Adobe’s recent announcement of job losses and a restructuring around HTML5.” [ Read More]

As we discussed before when it appeared likely that Adobe was going to can Flash , in my opinion Silverlight never really was much more than a ‘me too’ technology anyway that Microsoft got involved with because they had to be seen to have an answer to any major rival (arguably they should have bought Macromedia about 11 or 12 years ago if they really wanted to take on Adobe).  This from the Silverlight piece:

While HTML5 and Silverlight aren’t exactly synonymous, developers are cunning folk and should be able to figure out ways to make tools that fill in for HTML5’s weaknesses. Because Silverlight can be written in .NET languages, there shouldn’t be too much fuss in any transition, and with its relative lack of penetration, users really won’t notice that much difference. But for mobile browsers, one less annoying plugin error message has to be a good thing.” [Read More]

One short-term outcome from the demise of Flash and Silverlight, however, is likely to be a scaling back of innovative front-end techniques in DAM systems.  The reason is that HTML5 is not fully supported in corporate environments and the video situation is a mess of different competing standards that don’t work with each other.  One would expect vendors to be more reticent to use HTML5 since interfaces are going to be difficult to deploy and Flash/Silverlight are ‘mature products’ as software marketing people like to say.

As we have discussed before, while mobile devices might seem ‘cool’ we’re still a long way of seeing much practical application for them in DAM with the majority of end users because enterprises may not be willing (or able) to purchase the devices in the kind of quantities needed to make a tangible impact.  Taken from that perspective, the short-term outlook is that none of the options seem very appealing: either they are old technologies that are likely to become dated (Flash & Silverlight) or they are not currently properly supported and incompatible with each other (HTML5+ associated video formats).  This might slow front-end innovation in DAM systems in the short term unless vendors are prepared to invest to hedge their bets across many formats (and probably have to bear the cost for it themselves).  Much depends on how the cost pressures for the DAM industry play out in 2012 and whether the excess supply begins to take its toll on vendor margins.

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