This is great question, and I’m happy to say it is not a difficult one for me to answer. We have a lot of historical data on new player releases, and can validate that it follows a fairly consistent path. This is how we have been able to state that historically, new releases took 12 months to reach 80% — but with Flash Player 8 and Flash Player 9, it now takes 9 months to reach 80% and 12 months to reach 90%.
We have our data, but also we hear anecdotal stats from our customers that validate the penetration study we run every quarter. I always try to remind folks that the Millward Brown study is sampling to mirror an general internet-connected PC population, so your site’s demographics are likely to differ. But for large sites with broad reach and a broad customer base, the numbers you get should be fairly consistent with the numbers we publish. Use our numbers as a general guide on the penetration of Flash Player, but the best way for you to know what the penetration is for YOUR particular audience is to check it yourself.
So here is a basic guideline that you can use to project penetration of a particular release:
@3 months = 30 – 40%
@6 months = 55 – 65
@9 months = 80 – 85%
@12 months = 90+%
So working with the release date, you can figure out the penetration of a specific version and later. For example, Flash Player 9r28 with the full screen feature went out in November. That’s about 9 months since initial release. Therefore, PCs that have 9r28 or a later version should be around 80%. Check your site, and see how that matches up for your audience.
Again, I said this is the “typical” trend. If every major site in the world decided to start pushing Moviestar the day we launch, the penetration rate would be faster in the first two periods. The trend tends to flatten out once it hits 80% on it’s way to 90% and beyond.
To find out about the player dot release enhancements, fixes and versions, visit the release notes here. Unfortunately, they don’t have release dates (maybe a good thing to add moving forward, now that I mention it) but I believe I’ve blogged availability for every release so far for Flash Player 9.
Flash Player penetration study page here. Note, the June data is horribly late and I apologize for that. We’re working on getting it posted. The Flash Player 9 penetration was at 90.3% for mature markets, v8 was at 98.5%, and v6 and v7 were at 99.3%. Putting it in other terms, it means:
90.3% of PCs can view SWF9 or below
98.5% of PCs can view SWF8 or below
99.3% of PCs can view SWF 7 or below, and we can drop testing of SWF6 moving forward.
And if you don’t like that presentation, the above can also be read as:
90.3% of PCs have Flash Player 9 installed
8.2% of PCs have Flash Player 8 installed
0.8% of PCs have Flash Player 7 installed
Fun with numbers 🙂 Hope this helps.