Apparently the answer is pretty much never, despite the efforts of Apple, Google ... and now, Amazon.
The mega-retailer made the announcement this week in the “technical guidelines” section of its site devoted to advertising on Amazon. It will no longer support Flash content in advertising, which means Flash has now lost the support of another major company. The announcement says:
Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains. This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages. This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.
The message, as you might guess, is aimed at people who want to place ads on Amazon’s sites. It’s a response to a widespread rejection of Flash by browser developers working on Chrome, Firefox and Safari, who all cite the insecure design of Flash as a major problem for their users. All three browser makers now prevent Flash from running in their browsers without explicit permission from the user.
Amazon had to follow these browser makers’ leads because no user is going to say “Yes! Please enable these annoying Flash ads!” If advertisers want their Amazon ads seen by Chrome, Firefox and Safari users, they’re going to have to use something other than Flash.
If you’ll recall, Flash is the Adobe product that is riddled with so many security flaws that practically a month doesn’t go by without a major disaster. Many of the vulnerabilities in the Flash Media Player allow bad guys to take over your computer remotely, just because you have visited a website where there’s an ad or movie using Flash.
The problem is that Flash is still deeply embedded in a lot of legacy websites. Apparently one of the main areas where it’s really popular is on educational websites, where it’s used the way filmstrips were used back in days of yore. It’s simple to build educational games for kids using Flash, and it’s hard to begrudge educators an easy way to get kids engaged with school.
There are still a lot of mainstream games built with Flash too, including Angry Birds, and many sites with streaming media depend on it. So when will we truly see the end of Flash? It may take a lot longer than you think. But in the meantime, it’s going to get harder and harder for you to be exposed to it without being notified first — and that’s progress.
Art by Michael Hession