Flash is not going anywhere yet, it's just that the hardware on wich you can view it is changing / declining.
They're merely not supporting Flash on devices very much past what they have done already. The desktop flash player isn't going anywhere. Adobe is setting up to become the next console to directly compete with Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo*. They realize the demographic of online gamers is only increasing and their flash platform needs to take 3d seriously, which is what flash player 11 has introduced so well.
Adobe refocused "Flash Player" efforts into "AIR For Mobile". It's a variant of flash that has a lot more native device access. As HTML5 continues to grow and because devices support typically a newer subset of web technologies they realize Flash Player for devices isn't necessary anymore. So they're letting HTML5 take over where Flash Player was needed before (mostly in viewing movies or animating small parts of sites).
You will probably see a large push for AIR on desktops as well. The setback was always Flash Player integrates with the browser so it's a seamless experience. Now that Windows 8 Metro doesn't even support plugins in IE anymore (forcing you to load flash content in a separate Flash Player), the future may get rough for even Flash Player on desktop. Leave it to Microsoft to screw things up. Boy, I bet Silverlight will work in the browser though.......
Mind you, HTML5 isn't even close to a standard, nor is CSS3. They segmented HTML5 into many parts because they know that making a whole entity like "HTML5" a new standard takes forever so by splitting it up they can get approval for each part faster. Several parts are "recommended" but HTML5 still isn't even a standard as a whole (and hell, may never be in totality). Now is the time to start learning it.
I kind of posted a thread similar to this here, considering Flash's current position in the market, and I have to say; I kind of think that Adobe is missing a trick.
After all, it isn't Flash Player that makes Adobe money, but Flash and Flash Builder, both of which are still good products for what they do; simple animation (with or without vectors) and easy cross-platform or web-app development. So changing what actually runs them is only logical, as any advantages that Flash Player still has aren't going to last long as HTML 5 is only getting better. So, while Adobe should definitely keep developing Flash Player's capabilities in the mean time, I think they should be looking at ensuring that Flash and Flash Builder can build for "pure" HTML 5, so that when it (inevitably, in my opinion) pulls ahead, then the two products will still be just as desirable to use. Not to mention the fact that it would reassure everyone that's invested in Flash content but unsure about whether they now need to look at replacing it, as the lost ground in the mobile space is only going to hurt more and more, especially with Microsoft's barmy new Windows 8 browser. Plus it's not exactly a bad thing if Adobe can position a new Flash and Flash Builder version as the de facto tool for keeping your existing Flash content alive in an increasingly HTML 5 oriented browser world.
Possibly even look toward some price drops, and they could make themselves the way to develop web-content.
They definitely ended their Apple dispute about Flash being a viable way to develop an app. It's a pretty desirable route to me and I know xcode/cocoa/obj-c. I choose AIR over native despite the obvious differences in performance because it's so portable. I choose it over HTML5 wrapped as an app (phonegap and such) because it has frameworks to reach into the native OS and it doesn't require the devices ever-changing browser. Not to mention HTML5 overall is far from approval and continues to change which will almost guarantee any ambitious apps will need updates as it changes. AIR is more dependable.
What you said is why flash is what it is today. An app approachable by any designer who has no coding knowledge at all who can create engaging animation content in a "as compelx as you need it" fashion. It's a tool that clearly traverses the spectrum of beginner to expert and keeps anyone at all levels continually learning.
Because they chose ECMAScript compliance I always saw the future was going to be compiling into HTML5/JS/Canvas. I don't think anyone over in the Flash development division is sitting on their hands waiting to lose a job. They already made themselves viable for mobile. I feel they are taking their time because there's no reason to export out to HTML5 when browser consistency is so fractured in the market. One big problem flash has always fixed is what you see is what you get. No matter your browser the experience is identical. I doubt they'll take an early plunge into the limited parts of HTML5 until the water is a little more calm. But I don't think they'll wait until it's 100% approved either, or we'll all be in our graves at the pace they approve things...
There are two realities that Adobe can't get around:
1. Apple's iOS will be an important mobile platform for the next few
years at least.
2. Apple will not allow Flash within Mobile Safari - ever.
There's no need to spend resources on a fight you can never win.
Companies will need to target iOS as the dominant mobile platform, and
since they are doing that anyway, might as well consolidate their
development costs (which means developing for HTML5 instead of Flash on
It's reality, it's out of Adobe's hands, and they've done a smart thing
by refocusing on features of their platform in the places it is allowed
and still thrives - the traditional web on the desktop (and within the
realm of gaming and video more specifically), and in app stores. I'm
ecstatic about it all, and very much looking forward to seeing them
deliver sweet new features for me to play with.
BTW, Apple seems to have intentionally made it hard to develop for
mobile Safari - there's real opportunity there for Adobe to step in and
develop some stellar dev apps. RIM's BlackBerry Playbook has been a real
help for me in that area - they have a great remote web console that
ships by default. I got mine for free by submitting an AIR app.
Besides which, Flash could be a great way to develop for HTML 5, as I like animation, and sometimes make simpler games, and these are the kinds of things that it makes dead easy. If it could let people do these things for HTML 5 then that'd be great, as while you can do those things in HTML 5 now, it's an absolute pain as the tools available just aren't up to it.
I mean, the Flash plugin, AIR platform and so-on are great, but as HTML 5 catches up they'll become obsolete, but Adobe should really be the ones helping to make that happen, by positioning Flash for making content for both the Flash plugin and HTML 5 browsers, so when it catches up they can just let the plugin disappear. Not that I'm not eager for the new capabilities of the Flash plugin as well, as it's a great way to push what HTML 5 will eventually have in order to compete.
Not for nothing, I do almost absolutely nothing with flash on the web. I use flash techs almost every day in at my job but it revolves around kiosks, touch interfaces for various platforms and mobile apps. I will never start touting a HTML5 canvas instead of a projector for those purposes. The web is just one use of flash.
Adobe themselves have already stated they see Flash Player as the "console of the web". They directly want to compete with PS3/Nintendo/Xbox/etc. This is the big push on Stage3D as well as the August 1st tax on any "console quality" products that use premium features that exceed $50,000 in sales. They're simply realizing that the hole they previously filled in for the web is being filled in another way and they are no longer unique.
However full scale console quality games on the web? Flash is ideal and preinstalled, ready to go for that. That's their target. They have a dozen or so frameworks already built and more being built and improved as we speak. They're not laying down, they're re-arming for what they're betting all their dollars on. That WoW2 will be a flash-based game
A framework that limits you versus native.
By focusing on the "web console" I feel Adobe are greatly limiting themselves, as the Flash editor isn't really useful in that space as any serious project will be using Flash Builder and Stage3D for everything anyway. It's also not exactly "unique" there either, by your own argument, as this "web console" can't compete with native either, and any serious game development will still be better done in C/C++ and OpenGL for a mix of performance and compatibility, so it's not like this "web console" stuff is actually that compelling in practise; the only thing that makes it really interesting is the fact that Unreal engine 3 is already apparently ported to run in Flash, which was surprising.
Keeping ahead of the curve on performance for higher end Flash uses (including new ones) is admirable, but abandoning the other end, which the tools are currently well suited to, is a bad idea.
Yep just look in the revenue thread that was around here recently, I said basically the same thing. I don't know why Flash is refocusing to console outside looking at the MAX conference where they were quick to show that the audience of Flash is 20x bigger than all of console gaming combined. So they think the numbers are there for this. I said myself that any console quality game I ever create is sure as hell going to be c++ before I'd choose AIR.
AS4 is said to have strict type checking and that'll probably, if not more, be as big of a performance increase as AS2->AS3 introduced "not everything has to be a movieclip with excessive overhead". Both JS and AS are going to need critical debugging and performance tweaks like that to even almost be considered usable for console quality games.