Earlier last week, Google revealed plans to phase out support for Adobe’s Flash Player in its Chrome browser for all but a handful of websites. The company expects the changes to roll out by the fourth quarter of 2016.
What does this mean for the typical person using Chrome? Later this year Adobe’s Flash Player will be switched off by default, meaning Chrome users would need to actively turn it on for all but a handful of top websites. Flash will still come bundled with Chrome, but according to Google, “its presence will not be advertised by default.” If Flash Player is the only option for viewing content on a site, users will need to go switch it on for individual sites. Enterprise Chrome users will also have the option of switching Flash off altogether. Google will maintain support in the short term for the top 10 domains using the player, including YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitch and Amazon. But this “whitelist” is set to be periodically reviewed, with sites removed if they no longer warrant an exception- and the exemption list will expire after a year.
Why is this announcement a big deal? Not that many years ago only early adopters were using Chrome while the bulk of the browser market was still with the incumbent Internet Explorer. In just a few years the usage statistics within browsers have completely flip-flopped. Chrome now has approximately two-thirds of the browser market share. Internet Explorer/Edge and Firefox may still have enough share of the market to pay attention to, but Chrome is the big kid on the block.
If your site currently utilizes Flash, you have a number of options. One, if it’s been awhile since you’ve freshened up your site, now would be an ideal time for a redesign. Two, refactor and remove Flash. Three, if you have multiple sites under your corporate umbrella, audit all of your sites and tune up your solution architecture for the enterprise. Likely your IT staff has already been scheduled out for the entire year, which is very typical, so feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to help you out. This is not something you should sit on and discuss over the next couple of months- the fourth quarter will be here in no time.
What happens if I currently utilize Flash and I don’t make any changes? This is certainly an option. However, if browser market-share stats continue their trend, over two-thirds of your user base will not be able experience those elements of your site without manually turning on Flash. How exactly this will look is yet to be seen. That said, are you confident that your “‘average”’ user will not be irritated if they have to manually remedy the problem?
For questions, feel free to give us a call or leave a comment with your info!