Adobe abandoning Flash for mobile, vindicating Steve Jobs

Adobe said Nov. 9 that it is discontinuing development of Adobe Flash for mobile browsers and instead will focus on Adobe AIR software and HTML5 for multimedia playback on websites.

The company’s decision was first reported by ZDNet, which quoted from an internal Adobe e-mail, later confirmed on a company blog.

“HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively,” Danny Winokur, an Adobe vice president, wrote on the blog. “This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.”

The Flash plug-in has long been one of the popular means of viewing interactive applications, content and videos, but Jobs, the longtime Apple leader who died Oct. 5, had refused to allow Flash on Apple iPads, iPhones and iPods. In a “Thoughts on Flash” posting on Apple’s site in April 2010, he cited security weaknesses and Flash’s drain on battery life, among other concerns.

The iPad’s lack of Flash capability was one of the early complaints about the tablet when it first appeared, because so many videos and other content used Flash. But Jobs argued that most videos also were available in the compressed H.264 format, which spared battery life, and that HTML5 “will win on mobile devices (and PCs, too).”

It now appears he was right.

“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores,” Winokur wrote on Adobe’s blog. “We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations…following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.”

Winkour goes on to say Adobe also will be investing in HTML5 and will "innovate with Flash where it can have most impact for the industry.”

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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