You may recall a letter written in April 2010 by Steve Jobs titled “Thoughts on Flash” in which Jobs denounced allowing Flash to be used on the iPhone for several key reasons including the lack of “openness,” the fact that most of the content on the web (including most videos) are fully functional on the iPhone and iPad, the fact that Flash is slow and resource intensive and drains battery life, and the lack of “touch” functionality being that Flash was built on the premise you would be using a mouse to interact with it.
Many people examined the letter by Jobs under a microscope looking for things that weren’t there and some even believed it was only a matter of time until Flash was allowed on iOS. Well, today, this debate has been settled. Adobe announced today that it will be discontinuing the development of Flash for Mobile devices to focus more of its efforts towards HTML 5 (a standard supported by Apple).
“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. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.”
Adobe is now focusing their development efforts on:
- Applications for mobile
- Expressive content on the desktop (in and out of browser)
- Increasing their investments in HTML5 in general
This is a huge deal. Not only because it now is clear Steve was right about not allowing Flash on iOS, but it also means Google was wrong in betting time and time again on Flash and promoting it as a benefit of Android over iOS. Google may continue to promote Flash support, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean much, especially since most of the time Flash on mobile devices is horrendous anyway and will not be getting better from this point forward.
I must admit, I am a bit surprised considering it wasn’t too long ago that Adobe announced a Flash Media Server that would support iOS. My guess is that very few companies and sites were interested in purchasing the $1000 upgrade and it became quite apparent to Adobe who had won this war — hint: it wasn’t them.
Again, this a a big deal in the mobile world and a huge win for Apple who not only looks smarter than the competition right now, but also got exactly what they wanted with more investment into the development of HTML 5.