Adobe: Goodbye, Mobile Flash

| News

Adobe confirmed rumors Wednesday morning that it is, in fact, shutting down development of its Flash Player for mobile devices and will instead focus on HTML5.

Adobe Flash, dead for mobile devicesAs rumored, Adobe will continue to release bug and security updates for Flash on Android and RIM’s PlayBook, although there won’t be any new feature updates released.

“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,” said Danny Winokur, Adobe’s vice president and general manager of interactive development. “We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.”

Adobe will let developers with source code licenses continue to develop their own mobile Flash players, although that could likely lead to some level of fragmentation that other Flash coders won’t be interested in supporting.

Flash’s future, at least for now, will be limited to desktop and laptop computers, and Adobe’s push into the mobile market will target developing platform-native apps based on Adobe AIR.

Adobe’s push to convince the world that Flash should be the standard for multimedia content on mobile devices was met by strong resistance from Apple; so much so, that Apple didn’t include a mobile version of Flash Player in iOS. That battle led to an open letter from Steve Jobs, who was Apple CEO at the time, where he called the platform closed, proprietary and unstable.

At the time, Mr. Jobs said:

Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath.

Adobe’s founders, John Warnock and Chuck Genschke, responded by calling Apple’s iOS platform closed, and added “No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.”

Abandoning mobile Flash isn’t a big deal for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners since Apple never supported the multimedia platform on its mobile devices. It will, however become more of an issue for Web developers that rely on the technology because now there isn’t any incentive for them to support Flash for mobile devices.

The change could also become a big deal for traditional website development — and ultimately Adobe — since dropping mobile Flash support could kill any incentive site designers have for maintaining the platform on their desktop sites, too.

Adobe isn’t saying Flash is dead, and is even touting features of its upcoming Flash Player 12. With its growing support for HTML5, however, Adobe looks to be accepting that Flash’s relevance is receding — and maybe even proving Steve Jobs right, too.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

Dorje Sylas

Once again the “Reality Distorition” field warps the status quo and proves to be eventually “right”.

How long have the Apple Fan boys been saying that Adobe’s long term survival is dependent on how quickly they get HTML5 authoring tools on par with the ones they have for Flash?

Tiger

What was “right” all along was that Flash was dying as it was unnecessary.

Mobile devices have gotten along just fine for the last three years without it.

I’m no Fan Boy, and I’m no Fandroid either. I’m just a consumer.

mhikl

Maybe ain?t a word in Jobs? lingo when it comes to Action.

He saw it, he said it, it is made so.

sflocal

And Bosco, the biggest Flash proponent this forum has ever seen is nowhere to be found.  Must be busy eating that humble pie while reading the help-wanted ads.

dhp

So now I can dream of one day being able to look at restaurant web sites on my iPod touch or iPad. It seems 90% are Flash-based, which can be really frustrating while traveling.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

And Bosco, the biggest Flash proponent this forum has ever seen is nowhere to be found.? Must be busy eating that humble pie while reading the help-wanted ads.

Maybe I take a few minutes to gather information and think before I type. If you’ve ever paid any attention to my Flash related posts here, you would already know that the Flash Player isn’t the only part of the equation. The APIs and tools that let developers write once and deploy in many contexts are the important piece. Let me expand that in light of interest in Steve Jobs’ biography. One theme throughout his story is the merging of the humanities with the sciences. With that in mind, back to Flash…

The APIs and tools that let competent, trained developers as well as graphic designers and others with great ideas write once and deploy in many contexts are the important piece. Adobe is not abandoning these, and is even doubling down on AIR as deployment mechanism. Sure, it’s a concession that in mobile, software distribution through app stores is more prevalent than through web site embedding. But Adobe also got a key concession from app stores a year ago, when EU regulators and the DOJ put pressure on Apple to accept third party development tools if it wanted to continue having an unsupervised stranglehold on app distribution.

Above all though, Adobe’s shift to AIR for mobile is more of a recognition of the market that Windows 8 Metro is going to gobble up quickly than any kind of win for Apple. I’ll expand on that more in the future.

mhikl

sflocal, shame on you. Let sleeping dogs lie.

jfbiii

“Your mobile player is weak, Flash!”

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can ever imagine.”

Oh…wait. Wrong movie. I wanted “King Kong.”

“Twas Windows 8 Metro that killed the beast.”

Just like it was Amazon that killed music DRM.

mhikl

?Twas Windows 8 Metro that killed the beast.?
Just like it was Amazon that killed music DRM.

Clever, jfbii.
Maybe Lee will have a good comeback. But I do think SJ had a bit of the Joker in him. Would have been fitting for Steve to have been round to see this. But he knew it was coming.

Lee Dronick

So now I can dream of one day being able to look at restaurant web sites on my iPod touch or iPad. It seems 90% are Flash-based, which can be really frustrating while traveling.

i think that it is the same Flash programmer doing those websites.

Maybe Lee will have a good comeback. But I do think SJ had a bit of the Joker in him. Would have been fitting for Steve to have been round to see this. But he knew it was coming.

My wife had me running her around on errands this afternoon and that has left me temporally unable to joke. I will have to ponder it. Oh, and to make matters worse I am all out of beer. I am not sure how it happened, but my son had a friend in from out of town and they may have raided fridge.

Nemo

Dear Bosco:  Every developer out there knows that if they use AIR to develop for iOS, Apple won’t support their apps, won’t market their apps, and won’t hesitate to enhance its iOS without the least regard as to whether that breaks or even merely diminishes the functionality of apps made with AIR or other third-party tools.  So, if, as a developer, you don’t want the life of your apps to be nasty, brutish, unprofitable, and short, you will use Apple’s virtually free tools for developing on its iOS, and there is nothing that regulators anywhere can do about that.

And with Adobe abandoning all mobile platforms, the analysis, supra, is true for all other mobile platforms, Android, Windows Phone, and everything else.

And now with AIR being useless for all practical intents and purposes as development tools on the dominant iOS and Android and Windows Phone and everything else, what idiot will pay Adobe hundreds of dollars per developer’s seat for AIR and its other tools to develop for any mobile platform, when all that you’ll will get is write once and run poorly everywhere, if at all?

Lee Dronick

Here you go mhikl

Dr. Rumack from the movie Airplane! - “The life of everyone on the internet depends upon just one thing: finding some backend programers who can not only code a website, but who didn’t have Flash in their training.”

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, why in these discussions does it rarely take but 5 sentences for you to show that you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about? Adobe did not cancel AIR for any of the mobile platforms. Come on, you’re a lawyer. Presumably you can read the answers you copied from your neighbor.

mhikl

Knew you could do it Sir Lee. Airplane. One of the best disaster spoofs. Makes me smile just to hear its name.

(Kid and my beer. mmmmm. Never too soon to plan strategies. Shall see how little guy likes fighting over his bottle in the morning.)

Clear now that some come round just to fight. Well, suffer we must. It is a democracy, warts and all. A calm month or so comes to an end. Thank TMO for ignore member.

Nemo

Dear Bosco:  I didn’t say that Adobe cancelled AIR for mobile platforms, as should be clear from my last paragraph where I ask why anyone would still pay for AIR to develop for mobile platforms.  To clarify, I was speaking about Adobe cancelling Flash for all mobile platforms, and it is that cancellation of Flash that makes AIR pretty much useless for all mobile platforms in general and for iOS in particular.

Adobe’s problem is that all of the major makers of mobile operating systems have turned against Flash, Apple, Microsoft, and even Adobe’s erstwhile ally Google.  They’ve all abandoned Flash and are adopting HTML5, which left Adobe with no choice but to give up.  And, of course, if HTML5 is future, who needs AIR.  An Apple, in particular, will leave AIR and other third-party complied apps in a ditch by the side of the road, with no support, no access to the best functionality of iOS, no marketing, and likely to be broken with any new release of iOS.

So there you are Bosco.  Don’t go whining if you build an app in AIR that an update to iOS makes into rubbish, for you have been warned.  Apple makes no promise to support and/or market any app that isn’t built with its tools, so you use AIR or other third-party compilers on iOS at your peril. 

And how well do you think AIR apps will work with Siri? 

And really, did Adobe think that it could trust Google?  After what we’ve seen of Google’s conduct with others’ IP and its purchase of Motorola Mobility to compete with its Android licensees, what fool you’d have to be to trust Google, unless metaphorically speaking you have a gun to its head.  Certainly, Google’s Android OEMs no longer trust it, as is evidenced, inter alia, by Samsung’s deal with Microsoft for Windows Phone, by HTC’s inquiries to HP about the price for WebOS, and by Samsung’s plan to develop, along with LG and the Korean government, an alternative Linux mobile OS. 

So with Google dumping Adobe’s Flash, it is just another day with another knife in the back for another ally.  Adobe can’t have been surprised.

ethan

“and it is that cancellation of Flash that makes AIR pretty much useless for all mobile platforms in general and for iOS in particular.”

Nemo, it’s comments like this that reminds me you have zero coding background. How does flash player not being in mobile safari make AIR useless? How is today any different from 2 days ago for a developer who is building an app targeting iOS and Android? That question I’d really like you to answer as it makes zero sense. If your making an app then your not targeting the browser in the first place.

“And how well do you think AIR apps will work with Siri? ” point me to a third party native app that can integrate with it right now. BTW the solution is called Native Extensions-available in AIR 3 compiled iOS apps. You fire up xcode -write up some code accessing the api with calls, compile it, then include it in your air project, it gets compiled into your app and acts as a bridge to talk with the native OS api’s. So, Air apps will work very well with Siri if you can program. Plus you can compile native extensions with code for all the platforms so it acts as a nice cross platform library. I buy that off the shelf from a third party and I just saved myself all the money I’d pay an objC programmer to build a full app for one platform.

There are all kinds of app types out there, not all of them need native, not all of them need the latest features. Example: if I wanted to support the currently being sold iPhone 4 with my new app I wouldn’t want to tie into Siri:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/10/siri_only_for_4s/

By the way under the new subscription model access to all adobe’s master suite tools per seat per year is about 500 dollars-cost of an iPad. Their tooling is very economical.

ethan

Nemo, also if AIR generates valid iOS app bytecode and a new iOS release breaks that bytecode execution then how will it not break all the natively written bytecode as well? Bytecode is bytecode. If an update breaks something it will do it regardless of how the bytecode is generated.

Log-in to comment