Given my previous 2.5+ years working in the browser space with Skyfire, a lot of folks ask me two questions:
1. Is Flash going away (on its own or because of HTML5)?
2. Do web plugins go away with HTML5?
I wanted to quickly answer both of these. First, Flash is definitely not going away in the near-term. Although some (maybe all) casual web gaming can be developed in HTML5 and web video can be built with HTML5, Flash still has an ecosystem of DRM (digital rights management) tools, required by major web video publishers and supporting reporting and advertising frameworks. With the top premium video publishers, given the importance of DRM, if Flash went away, it wouldn’t be replaced by HTML5 but rather some new plugin that enables DRM. HTML5 is inherently open and thus would not work for high-end premium content.
As to the question of whether plugins go away. In an ideal world, you’d want everything to be standardized and based on W3C specifications; the obvious advantage is that your webpage could then run on any W3C compliant browser. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening. Plugins have existed because they are the innovation delta between what developers want to do and what HTML spec enables you to do. As an example, Adobe is now talking about the use of Flash to develop 3D applications, it is unlikely that this will become part of HTML spec anytime in the next 5 years. As long as their continued innovation in the front-end, plugins will continue to exist.