Steve’s Last Laugh: Adobe Killing Off Flash For Mobile Devices

The year was 2008. I was at an event focused on mobile, sitting in on a roundtable discussion with several folks from key companies in the industry. One gentleman was from Adobe. The iPhone had launched the previous year, famously without any support for Flash. A lot of folks were up in arms about this — including several at this table. The guy from Adobe assured everyone: mobile Flash would be coming soon. And it was going to be wonderful. The notion that Apple wouldn’t include it on the iPhone because of performance issues was pure hogwash.

The same thing was said in 2009.

The same thing was said in 2010.

The same thing was still being said in 2011.

So you’ll forgive me when I snicker a bit at the news tonight that Adobe plans to cease development of their Flash player for mobile devices. Jason Perlow has the scoop for ZDNet, and it’s a doozy. Here’s the apparent forthcoming announcement from Adobe on the matter:

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.

This announcement, along with talk of a focus on HTML5, should be out in the next day or so, according to Perlow. Yes, Adobe is ending their efforts to get Flash onto mobile devices.

For your reference, here are Steve Jobs original thoughts on flash from April of 2010.

An excerpt:

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

Steve Jobs
April, 2010

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