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The Time Is Now for Adobe Flash Player 9

Flash Player 8 reached 86% penetration, just nine months after release

If past Flash Player download numbers are any indication, Flash Player 9 could have the biggest, early adopter audience of all.

In June 2006, Adobe released Flash Player 9, the most powerful Flash runtime to date, which introduced ActionScript 3.0 (an important ECMAScript-compliant update to the ActionScript language), faster performance through an optimized virtual machine, and interconnectivity with Adobe Flex 2. The small download size of Flash Player 9 and strong features may be at the core of why developers choose to deploy Flash applications. Equally important, and not to be overlooked, are the statistics about how many computer users already have Flash Player installed, and how quickly users can download and install or upgrade to the newest version. As developers, you want to know that your content and applications can be immediately experienced by the widest audience.

Independent research company Millward Brown conducted a study in June 2006 concluding Flash Player is on 97.3% of desktops in mature markets, and Adobe's own download statistics indicate the current demand for Flash Player is strong, as it's installed over 5 million times a day (Source: Akamai download statistics). A lesser-known fact is that each version of Flash Player has historically taken about 12 months to reach 80% penetration (Source: NPD Group Research), demonstrating the consistency of the adoption curve for each release. The latest quarterly study takes into account broader and deeper worldwide statistics and provides a more in-depth account of worldwide Flash Player penetration than previous studies. The study surveys users in six countries on a quarterly basis: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan. It also includes mainland China and South Korea every other quarter. (The margin of error in the Millward Borwn survey is +-3% with a 95% confidence level.)

In a previous wave of this study conducted in April 2006 by independent research company NPD Group Research, Flash Player 8 was at 69% penetration six months after its release, a considerable jump in the numbers from Flash Player 5 and 6, which were at 53% penetration during the same point in their cycles. The June 2006 study indicates that Flash Player 8 reached 86% penetration, just nine months after release - further indication that the demand for the latest versions of Flash Player is growing year over year.

In short, these studies highlight that Flash Player is one of the most pervasive software platforms on the Web and they suggest that users are adopting the latest Flash Players more quickly than their predecessors.

The demand for Flash Player, as demonstrated by the download numbers, is an indicator of the widespread use of Flash for creating compelling experiences on the Web. Increasingly, Websites like Google Video, YouTube, MySpace, and MTV are turning to Flash Player and Flash video as their deployment solution for presenting rich content to their users. One of the primary reasons behind the quick adoption of Flash Player across desktops is that millions of users are consuming content across popular sites like these.

Another reason for the ubiquity of Flash Player is the simplicity of the installation and upgrade process, along with its small download size. As a developer, you can continue to rely on the default browser install experience for ActiveX in Microsoft Internet Explorer and the Firefox plug-in finder service, which we started supporting with the Flash Player 8 release. Alternately, you can now seamlessly upgrade your Website visitors to the latest Player using Express Install, a Flash-based experience introduced in Flash Player 8. Use Express Install to design an in-context upgrade experience for your content so users never have to leave your site to get the latest Player. You can also gracefully handle user cancellation and avoid system restarts. Learn more about implementing Express Install in your Flash applications in this article: Experiencing Flash Player Express Install (www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/express_install.html). I also highly recommend watching the short demo of the Express Install user experience in the piece. To find out more about Player detection, Player installation and Express Install, see the Flash Player Detection Kit (www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/download/detection_kit/). You can also check out SWFObject, another popular solution for detection and Express Install developed by a member of the community.

The strong penetration of Flash Player, the ease of install and upgrade experience for end users, and the new features in Flash Player 9 make it a top deployment choice for your Rich Internet Applications. To learn more about new features in Flash Player 9 and how to use them, see my article, Introducing Flash Player 9 (www.adobe.com/devnet/logged_in/ehuang_flashplayer9.html), and visit the Flash Player Developer Center.

To learn more about the Millward Brown and NPD studies, as well as methodologies used, see the following resources:

More Stories By Emmy Huang

Emmy Huang is senior product manager for Flash Player. Her experience includes working in engineering and product management on a range of digital entertainment technologies at Sony Pictures Digital, Liberate Technologies, and Intel. She briefly flirted with the idea of switching to another industry while working towards her MBA at UCLA but decided that working in software was way more fun than selling bleach.

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Most Recent Comments
j j 09/21/06 10:13:48 AM EDT

In a previous wave of this study conducted in April 2006 by independent research company NPD Group Research, Flash Player 8 was at 69% penetration six months after its release, a considerable jump in the numbers from Flash Player 5 and 6, which were at 53% penetration during the same point in their cycles. The June 2006 study indicates that Flash Player 8 reached 86% penetration, just nine months after release - further indication that the demand for the latest versions of Flash Player is growing year over year.

j j 09/20/06 08:56:55 PM EDT

In a previous wave of this study conducted in April 2006 by independent research company NPD Group Research, Flash Player 8 was at 69% penetration six months after its release, a considerable jump in the numbers from Flash Player 5 and 6, which were at 53% penetration during the same point in their cycles. The June 2006 study indicates that Flash Player 8 reached 86% penetration, just nine months after release - further indication that the demand for the latest versions of Flash Player is growing year over year.