[thelist] flash detection

Ben Dyer ben_dyer at imaginuity.com
Tue May 8 09:44:27 CDT 2001

A few observations, and then I'll drop this topic of conversation.

First off, a few people have already questioned the statistical sampling of 
MediaMetrix in their Flash survey, and I'm inclined to agree.  I maintain 
that there is no way that 96% of browsers (which is what the 96% of this 
statistical sampling apparently represents, according to Macromedia) have 
Flash.  First off, this survey is probably culled from mostly home 
machines, of which I'm betting (if you follow Moore's law), most had 
preinstalled on the machine.  This now discounts (or at least reduces) work 
machines, library machines, school machines in labs (which tend to follow 
behind Moore's law), etc.

Second, maybe Real and QuickTime aren't as high as Flash, but they are 
definitely higher.  First off, Real seems to be installed by default on 
many computers now (the latest computers we bought here at work already had 
it).  And, no, I don't have any statistics to back this up (other than Real 
and Apple statistics which I'm sure are just as heinous: 150 million 
downloads of QuickTime and 200 million registered users of Real - please).

It's like this, this is an offshoot tangent and not even the crux of my 
argument about Flash.  Flash is overused, underwhelming, takes too long to 
load for most people without broadband, runs into usability and 
accessibility issues far more often than with HTML alone, somehow 
contributes to this mythical "experience" which users are not coming for 
(with the noted exception of entertainment sites, which are exempt, as that 
is the purpose), and just generally does not contribute to anything at all 
beyond the fact that something is moving.

And, yes, there are places where Flash is helpful. (We have been tinkering 
with a mini Flash-based help system for users who are having problems with 
forms.  Yes, it's very cool, but we also have an HTML alternative.)  Yes, 
there is a time for Flash. (One of my former favorite sites, may it rest in 
peace, was Icebox.  I also like Heavy.com and others.)  But as I said 
before, we're heading towards Flash burnout.  If you're using Flash 
thinking it will provide you with some kind of "coolness factor," it simply 
isn't going to happen.

OK, so let's move on now.


Ben Dyer
Senior Internet Developer
Imaginuity Interactive

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