The Adobe Flash platform (formerly part of Macromedia until acquired by Adobe in 2005) was initially known as Shockwave Flash and is often called simply Flash. Flash refers to both the Adobe Flash Player and to the Adobe Flash authoring software. The Flash Player is a client application or plug-in available in most common web browsers. There are also versions of the Flash Player for mobile phones and other devices. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash technology has become a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. Flash is commonly used to create animated advertisements, various web page components, to integrate video into web pages, and more recently, to develop Internet applications.
According to a Millward Brown survey, conducted June 2007, Adobe claims Flash reaches 99.3% of desktop Internet users.
Flash Video Technology
Flash is increasingly used as a way to display video on web pages. Flash video technology is used as the basis for many popular video sites, including YouTube and Google Video. One major flaw with multimedia embedded through Flash, however, is the considerable performance penalty placed on playback hardware as compared with other video playback systems such as Apple’s QuickTime or Windows Media Video. Many files that drop frames and skip audio when embedded within Flash may play without any issues using other formats on the same hardware. However the next version of the Flash player will include MPEG-4 support which could significantly increase video performance.