Adobe has confirmed that it will cease development of Flash on mobile devices, saying that it will instead focus on HTML5 and apps for mobile platforms.
News about mobile Flash’s demise hit last night from ZDNet, and Adobe confirmed the report in a blog post this morning.
The announcement comes after Apple boldly chose not to support Flash on the iPhone in 2007, citing concerns about the technology’s performance. Now it seems Steve Jobs was right all along.
“Over the past two years, we’ve delivered Flash Player for mobile browsers and brought the full expressiveness of the web to many mobile devices,” wrote Danny Winokur, Adobe VP and General Manager of Interactive Development. “However, HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”
Winokur says that Adobe will continue to let Flash developers package native apps for all major app stores using Adobe Air, but it is ceasing development of the Flash Player for Android and the BlackBerry PlayBook. (Now I’m sure plenty of tablet makers are regretting listing Flash capabilities as a feature.) The company says it will continue to release bug fixes, as well as let licensees of its source code release their own Flash-like products.
By giving up on mobile Flash, the company will be able to focus its efforts on technologies best suited for specific platforms. That means it’ll continue to push Flash as a compelling technology for desktops (the company lists “advanced gaming” and “premium video” as examples), while apps and HTML5 cover its mobile work.
Adobe will also push to make HTML5 more capable: “We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the W3C and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible, just as we have done with CSS Shaders,” Winokur writes. “And, we will design new features in Flash for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve so developers can confidently invest knowing their skills will continue to be leveraged.”
In September, Adobe announced that it will allow developers to package Flash content for iOS by transforming it into HTML5. At the time, that news was taken as a win for Apple, since it meant Adobe would give up on trying to bring Flash to iOS altogether.
Despite all of Adobe’s assurances about Flash’s viability on mobile over the past few years, we’ve yet to see the technology perform on mobile as well as it does on desktops. Flash is still a slow performing battery hog on most devices. While dropping its mobile Flash ambitions is certainly a black eye for Adobe, and a validation of all of the complaints Steve Jobs brought up in his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” missive, the company will be better off in the long run. And for consumers, it means we’ll finally get to see some real mobile innovation from Adobe.
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