Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Death of Flash

The days of Adobe Flash are numbered. The experts say it is so because existing browsers cannot afford to continue the battle of ongoing security threats and breaches. In addition, the loading time for any flash file is exceptionally slow.  So browser makers are now demanding that Adobe set an “end-of-life” (very dramatic!) date for Flash - so that browser makers can disable it permanently. Adobe continues to send out patches and updates but that is not sufficient to assuage the potential hacking concerns for this plug-in.

As stated by Wired magazine, July 2015,”…just because Adobe releases a secure new version of Flash doesn’t guarantee its users will download it. As quickly as Adobe can beat back trouble, more pops up. It’s a never-ending game of Whac-a-Mole. “

Flash was once the go-to standard for multimedia even though problems with Flash have been recognized for years.   In fact, Steve Jobs blocked Flash from all of its mobile/tablet products in 2010.

Why does this matter in the publishing world?  
Publishers’ primary concern is that their web sites are the source of easy-to-read content.  By now many websites have abandoned using Flash in favor of a markup language known as HTML5.  HTML5 does a similar job but is more advanced, does not require a browser plugin and is more secure. These new websites allow for an optimal viewing and navigation experience called “responsive design” that resizes/reformats content depending on the device.

How does this impact digital magazines?
Despite the refocused investment on HTML5 websites, many publishers are not giving the same attention to their digital editions. They continue to use Flash technology for these publications. They do not consider the value of how a digital edition can augment their overall marketing strategy. And after all, the digital publications are key to extending their brand across all digital platforms and devices.

Even more puzzling, considering how quickly technology is moving, is the continued use of PDFs that publishers label as their “digital” edition.  PDFs equate with “long time to load”, “static”, “interminable scrolling” –a negativity that publishers would not want attributed to their print edition. 

Publishers need to recognize that quality, cross-platform digital magazines are a low price point compared to most other services needed to publish content. It has been shown that when a replica digital edition is produced sloppily, it can generate animosity and is detrimental to the brand.  Having a digital edition that is not well executed and presented can be more of a negative than not having one at all!

In addition, a web site is not a replacement for a digital edition. Publishers who have digital editions created in HTML5—the latest technology with cross-platform, interactive tools—understand that digital works as a complement to their respective print magazines and web sites as an effective way to distribute their unique content.  

As a result, audience engagement is increased and in turn, there is potential to increase additional revenue and results for advertisers. Publishers who embrace and execute specific strategies for their digital magazines will end up winners; those who just limp along with no business plan for their digital edition will not.

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