I’ve been thinking about why Flash died, and it isn’t the technical reasons that most people think it is. I believe it died because proprietary solutions don’t work.
Yes Flash had issues with being reliable, safe, and draining batteries. However those were side effects of not being supported as an open solution that no one owns. We have seen over time that when companies try to do proprietary technologies they mostly don’t get market support. Things like Firewire, Apple 30 pin iPhone connection, Apple lightning adapter, Apple Thunderbolt, BeOS, NEXT, many varieties of Unix, Dr. Dos, WordPerfect, Betamax, ect.
There are so many other examples of propriety solutions that had a brief life and then people moved on. Yes there are some proprietary solutions like Microsoft Office, Avery labels, HP printers that are very popular and seem too popular to die. However I believe that in time, those products just like many others before them will become commodities and eventually die. Already things like Google Docs are digging into Microsoft’s Office dominance, and with the rise of PDF and websites/databases, office format is becoming less critical than it once was. I would be surprised if Office survives another 10 years frankly. I see people who have moved to PDF as their preferred workflow and it makes lots of sense for many companies.
The problem with technology from the standpoint of proprietary technologies is that there is always a competitor trying to take away the market share of the popular leader. Even the PDF format which is increasingly becoming more important than Office formats has its competition. Now many companies want their information and things for employees on a webpage for many reasons. It makes sense. Why struggle with trying to find a document in a big directory when you can have things indexed and presented to you more easily?
The web is going to continue to dig at proprietary formats until they die. Then I think the competition will be between CMS like WordPress and Joomla and how easy it is to manage data on a larger level. You see the rise of small/mid-sized businesses and the lack of IT qualified people enhances this self-serve model of document management. It is going to be interesting that IT people will move from managing the desktop to managing a cluster of information points, and one that I welcome.