I disagree with your assessment that Flash wasn't very very novel:
Flash brought professional-level animation to the masses. It democratised vector animation and significantly flattened the learning (and effort) curves.
Lots of us will remember how Java applets were used from the mid-1990s onwards for things like in-browser games and scientific demonstrations, often crudely made because Java Applets are for programmers, not designers. Flash flipped the tables around and
made it easy to make a polished impression: hundreds of thousands of Flash games, videos, and animations undoubtably changed the web for the better.
Then in 2002 Flash 6 came out with support for video, thus marking the beginning of the end for plugin-video handlers: we all remember horrid experiences with the WMP control and QuickTime.
Flash has been innovating, but remember it's a product for designers, not developers. You won't hear them innovating on parallelisation or lambda expressions.
While I agree with everything you said, I want to know what you think Flash's future is? This, I believe, is what the Apple press release was about. I think we can all agree that Flash has been useful.