This has been a pretty good week for digital security, because not only is Oracle finally killing off its cancerous Java plug-in for web browsers, Encoding.com has reported that Adobe Flash will die its own death within the next couple of years. You know it’s bad when even Adobe itself wants to kill off Flash, but it can’t just pull the rug out from under the websites that still rely on it, which is pretty much the only reason Flash still exists. Fortunately, the good old H.264 codec has come to dominate the Internet, while the newer H.265 and WebM are growing like crazy, and will full replace Flash within the next couple of years.
If you’ve been waiting for the glorious day when the plague on humanity that is Adobe Flash will cease to exist, we now know when it’ll happen. According to the 2016 global media format report published by Encoding.com, Flash only made up six percent of mobile and web video in 2015, down from 21 percent in 2014. The company believes Flash will be completely gone within the next two years. So what’s replacing it? Right now, H.264 is still the leading video codec, making up 72 percent of online videos. But H.264 isn’t new, it’s been around for 13 years, and the next generation of codecs are starting to pick up steam. WebM — which is royalty-free — is on pace to be the next big video codec, with 12 percent of the market and the leading HTML5 video delivery system for Chrome and Firefox. H.265 or HEVC, the format The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) anointed as the successor to H.264 is growing, but only makes up 6 percent of the market, half of WebM’s reach. The lack of growth is likely due to the fact that companies using the codec must pay royalty fees to the patent owners, unlike its competitor WebM. But with the ability to reproduce content at half the bitrate as H.264 and with support from Netflix who uses it for 4K streaming and Apple’s FaceTime (on newer devices), the expectation is H.265 will become a mainstream codec right along with WebM.