The purpose of this blog is to give my opinion of where I think Flash is now, where I think it's going, and to attempt to dispel rumours based on bias.
Adobe's intent with Flash is to create heavily designed, interactive content that behaves the same across many browsers and operating systems. Its purpose has always been to push the limits of what a browser can give you. It is good at things like online games, video, and certain types of enterprise applications. It is not, and never has been, good at 100% Flash websites that are intended for passing information. The beginning of the perceived descendancy of Flash started a few years ago when Steve Jobs publicly opposed the Flash platform. Now please don't get into a religious argument with me already, I'm not criticizing his reasons, I'm just listing the reasons why Flash has the perceptions it currently has. So first was Apple's war against Flash, the lawsuits around Apple forbidding AIR on iPhones, and the drama that has persisted the last few years. Then a major blow to its perception was the revocation of mobile browser support for Flash. This created an enormous disconnect between reality and perception. People took this to mean, "Flash is dead". When it really only meant, "Flash on mobile browsers" is dead, when it was never really alive to begin with. "How can you kill that which has no life?" So here's where the demise of Flash starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; Development shops start dropping Flash like a hot box of rocks, HTML 5 all the way, make way for the future!
What is the state of Flash right now? Adobe has shifted its attention in Flash to be more towards the online games niche. They've changed their business model for online flash games, they've dropped support for Flex (which was primarily good for enterprise and form-based applications), and they've been focusing on features centered around GPU accelerated games for the web. What does this mean? It means that if you're in the business of making online games, awesome, have a good look at Flash. Even Unity, which has been on the rise has the ability to publish to a Flash SWF. Is Flash still ubiquitous? Sorry if you've endured this whole post for just this question. The answer is: it entirely depends on your audience. Adobe hasn't released penetration statistics in 4 years, and the information they gave was never very accurate anyway, as it all depends on your audience. For example, I've developed software for teachers in the middle east where the penetration was less than 80%, and thankfully did the research before hand and planned accordingly. However, at Riot Games where our audience is entirely gamers, the Flash player penetration is at 99.96%. This blog, whose audience is web developers, has an average penetration of 94%. So you have to do the research on your customer-base, do not make assumptions. Silverlight died almost as soon as it launched, and has a global penetration of about 20%, but has been perfectly fine for Netflix because Netflix has a captive audience and their users will install what is required.
Will Flash be around in 10 years? Does it matter? How long do you expect the software you write today to last?