Whether you view it as a posthumous victory for Steve Jobs or merely Adobe finally coming around to their senses, the company officially announced today its plans to discontinue development of its Flash Player for mobile devices. What’s more, the company boldly proclaimed on its blog that HTML 5 is ultimately the best method for folks to create and deploy content across mobile platforms.
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 continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations.
Ever since the first iPhone was released, critics have lamented Apple’s decision to not support Flash video. While some cynically claimed that Apple wanted to drive users away from online flash games and towards the iTunes App Store, proponents of Apple’s decision were quick to point out that Flash on mobile resulted in shoddy performance and raised a number of security issues as well.
In April 2010, Steve Jobs penned some “thoughts on Flash” where he outlined the multitude of reasons why Apple had no intention of making their iOS devices flash compatible.
“We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now,” Jobs wrote. “We have never seen it.”
“Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs,” Jobs continued. “But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”
Moreover, Jobs said that Flash video drains battery much quicker than H.264 video. One month later, a user emailed Jobs asking if he hates Adobe and their products, to which Jobs replied: “I respect and admire Adobe. We just chose to not have Flash on our devices.”
Interestingly enough, though not at all surprising, some of the more vocal critics of the original iPhone were quick to criticize the iPhone for its lack of Flash support and its lack of a removable battery. Today, a growing number of premium smartphones don’t come with removable batteries in an effort to stay thin. Coupled with Adobe bowing out of the Flash player market for mobile devices and Apple’s unique ability to see the forest for the trees rings truer than ever.
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that former Adobe engineers have publicly stated that Adobe executives misjudged the influence and popularity of the iPhone and consequently did not devote enough resources towards ensuring that Flash performed admirably on mobile devices. We doubt, however, that Apple would have cared given their predilection to avoid reliance on third parties whenever possible.