It’s A Mystery: Google Can Do a Barrel Roll, but it Can’t Do Without Flash

Gmail, Reader, and the rest of the Google Apps family aren’t the only Google products that have recently gotten a major facelift. Two days ago my Google Analytics account was upgraded to the new look, and on loading it for the first time I was somewhat stunned to find that Google Analytics still uses Flash for interactive charts and other widgets. Really, Google? Even Adobe has abandoned Flash, at least in its mobile incarnation; the desktop version surely can’t be far from similar defenestration.

What makes Google’s continued use of Flash in its Analytics and Finance apps even more facepalm-inducing is that Google has clearly demonstrated that it has the in-house talent to do great things with HTML5 and JavaScript. Google can make the web do a barrel roll. It can make amazing, interactive logo doodles that feature sound and lights and animals and playable instruments. But it apparently can’t put the talent that it spends on these fun but useless trinkets to work making a simple, interactive stock or pageview chart that doesn’t depend on Flash.

I’m not sure what’s behind Google’s slowness to banish Flash from its internal offerings, but my guess is that it has something to do with the company’s famously decentralized and engineering-led product culture. With newly minted CEO Larry Page taking a firmer grip on the reins, here’s hoping that Page will make a companywide anti-Flash edict part of his whip-cracking, house-cleaning, product-axing overhaul.

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