"Obviously there is overlap, but because of this basic concept -- along with Flash being in the private or closed domain -- Flash has been able to evolve as a platform much quicker," Adams says. "As long as Flash has support and Adobe continues to invest in the platform, I don't see HTML5 catching up to it anytime soon."
When asked about specific examples of using HTML as a Flash replacement, Adams says, "I've seen a number of well-done experiences in HTML5, but I find myself feeling like they would have come off slightly better using Flash. Certain things such as image quality and image rendering characteristics, as well as synchronization, just seem to feel better in Flash."
A growing need
There is no data readily available regarding how many companies have already created scaled-down mobile-friendly websites, but the number is increasing, analysts agree. They also agree that the amount of Web traffic from mobile devices is growing dramatically.
The situation requires that developers understand their users, how they are accessing web content and how that accessibility may change.
"It's hard to deny the influence of a very rapidly growing computing market segment [phones and tablets] and of the best-marketed -- and arguably the best-made -- products in that category," Slackers Radio's Crawford says. Apple's devices "are commonplace, easy to test on, and straightforward to cater to -- as a result, they get more attention from Web developers than other mobile devices."
So when does Crawford recommend using Flash, and when should it be avoided?
"Use Flash when you can have at least some assurance that the population is using a desktop browser," advises Crawford. "For the most part, using a desktop browser implies that your visitor will have Flash."
But don't limit your focus to just your site's home page, Crawford says. Use Flash when there are no other options, he suggests. Then, "there are things Flash is simply better at. And Flash still has a place for things where HTML5 technologies don't cover every browser" -- for example, when multimedia playback is required.
"I think the basic best practice from a business perspective is to be platform-agnostic," Adams chimes in. "But how you go about doing that depends on the project, creative needs and budget."
He explains further: "The creative and technical requirements would dictate the best approach." If there are extensive creativity demands, including the need for video, games or multimedia ads, for instance, "then Flash would be an ideal option, with a fallback design" for mobile.
"In many cases, the fallback design can get close to the Flash version, since you aren't dealing with [the same] browser-compatibility issues covered by the Flash version," Adams says.
No Flash? No problem!
Flash can be eliminated from many websites, or left out when the sites are initially developed. The key, Crawford says, is what type of content the site will host, and what sort of experience you want the user to have.
"As long as Flash has support and Adobe continues to invest in the platform, I don't see HTML5 catching up to it anytime soon," says Donovan Adams, a senior interactive developer who has worked at Syfy/NBCUniversal and Macys.com.
Still, there are times when only Flash will really do, Crawford says. "Flash is still justified for multimedia content: interactive visualizations of data, for example; video presentations; rich media advertising; games. These are the cases where Flash shines."