FedEx will give customers that use the Chrome 56 and Safari 10 browsers or newer a $5 discount once they enable the Flash plugin. The offer comes after both Chrome and Safari have started blocking Flash content by default in the past few months.
Flash Getting Blocked By Default
All major browser vendors have either already started to block Flash or announced plans to do so later this year. The main reason for this is that the Flash plugin makes browsers too vulnerable to attack.
When a vulnerability is found in Flash, it usually impacts all browsers. On the other hand, HTML specifications have different implementations for each browser. Therefore, it’s less common for a vulnerability affecting one implementation of an HTML specification to affect the other browsers, too.
Chrome started blocking most Flash content by default for 1% of users in Chrome 55, whereas Chrome 56 blocked most Flash content for all users. (Some exceptions were made for popular websites, so Chrome hasn’t yet blocked 100% of the Flash content on the web.)
Apple started blocking Flash in Safari 10 when macOS “Sierra” landed in Fall 2016. Microsoft said that Edge will begin blocking most Flash content by default when the Windows 10 Creators Update arrives this Spring. Mozilla hasn’t given a specific date for when its Flash plugin will require users to “Click to activate,” but the change should also come some time this year.
None of the browsers intend to remove the Flash plugin completely, at least for the time being. Even after Flash content begins to be blocked by default, users will still have a way to enable it in their browsers, until vendors decide to drop support for the Flash plugin completely.
Warnings Of Flash Deprecation
Google announced that it would block Flash in Chrome by default last May, which means it has given website developers less than a year to move away from Flash. For some major websites, this amount of time may not be enough to make the transition.
However, there have been plenty of warnings that Flash will be killed by the industry for many years, starting with Steve Jobs’ own attack against Flash and the banning of the plugin from the iOS ecosystem way back in 2010.
Two years later, Adobe, the maker of Flash, announced that it would stop supporting Flash on the Android platform, too. In 2015, Adobe also recommended Flash developers to start creating HTML5 content instead of Flash content. Soon after that, Google and Amazon banned Flash ads from their advertising platforms.
FedEx Caught Off-Guard With Flash Site In Place
Despite all of those warnings, FedEx has remained one of the largest companies that still supports Flash content on its website. This seems to be causing some issues for their customers, who now need to enable Flash in Chrome and Safari.
As you may imagine, chances are that many FedEx customers aren’t very happy that they have to follow a list of relatively technical instructions to enable Flash again in their browsers. The more tech savvy ones may even dislike the fact that FedEx is forcing them to use Flash again, and potentially expose them to security risks, just when they thought they could have a Flash-free web experience.
To alleviate this problem, FedEx has come up with a rather interesting idea--it will offer its customers a $5 discount for orders over $30 if the site notices that they don’t have Flash enabled. All you have to do to get that $5 discount is--you guessed it--enable Flash in your browser. Easy!
In its instructions, the company is asking its customers to switch Flash to the “Always run” option, in order to enable it in their browsers. However, Chrome and Safari users should also be able to allow the Flash plugin to "Run once" on the FedEx website. This should allow them to complete the purchase, while at the same time limiting their exposure to Flash exploits.
It's not clear how long FedEx will keep this $5 offer around, but chances are that it won't be too long before the company transitions to a full HTML5 website. Then all of its customers should be able to complete their purchases without having to enable the Flash plugin anymore.