Flash in the pan?

I am an ex-Flash user. I uninstalled the Flash plug-in on my primary browser about a month ago, and I haven’t looked back. Here’s how it happened:

Back when Apple announced that its forthcoming iPad would lack Flash support, it sounded to me like a boneheaded move. If a device built for consuming multimedia doesn’t support the web’s leading format for multimedia presentation, what good is it?

But after using my own iPad for a while, I decided I didn’t miss Flash nearly as much as I thought I would. (And I discovered that a lot of web apps I’d assumed were Flash-based were actually built with JavaScript.) Which got me thinking: Could I do without Flash on my main computer as well?

I use a woefully underpowered first-generation MacBook Air that I’d rather not replace just yet. I’d done about all I can think of to squeeze a little more performance out of it, including installing a solid-state hard drive and upgrading the OS to Snow Leopard. Still I found many common activities, particularly web browsing in multiple tabs or windows, painfully slow.

So I decided, as an experiment, to remove the Flash plug-in from my primary web browser, Google Chrome. I still have it in Safari, which I fire up when I need to look at Flash content.

After about a month, here are my impressions:

  • The speed increase on web browsing is much more dramatic than the performance boost I got by adding Snow Leopard and the SSD. And since most of my computing time is spent in a web browser, that gives my old laptop a new lease on life.
  • Fewer obnoxious ads! That alone might make this “upgrade” worthwhile.
  • YouTube and Vimeo both have stable HTML5 video players, though most of the commercial content on YouTube is available only in the Flash player.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s video player works beautifully. (NYT and CNN not so much.)
  • Interactive charts in Google Analytics and Google Finance, sadly, are Flash-based and don’t downgrade gracefully.
  • The Google Maps API is JavaScript based (though there is also a Flash API) so most of the apps produced by my former colleagues at the L.A. Times’ Data Desk still work without a hitch.

In short, for me, the performance jump is worth the occasional inconvenience, but YMMV.

What do you think? Could you live without Flash?