Adobe, the much heralded pioneers for dynamic content development on our web and mobile devices via their proprietary Flash platform, has officially closed the door on future mobile flash support, instead refocusing their sights on the widely supported HTML5 standard.
It is no secret that Adobe has had its share of battles with Apple, the smartphone giant that has refused to support the mobile Flash plugin for the iPhone, citing less than stellar performance on their ubiquitous device. With the kind of market share that the iPhone has over the smartphone market, and with the near unanimous support of Adobe Flash for web and mobile devices, it was the kind of stalemate that had developers and consumers wondering which titan would topple first. It seems Apple would be the last man standing, and with Adobe finally taking their hat out of the mobile animation ring, HTML 5 has the unique opportunity to become the next contender for worldwide animation support on mobile devices.
The full story:
Adobe has said it will stop developing its Flash plugin for mobile devices. The company intends to focus on HTML 5 for mobile devices and work with Flash “where it can have the most impact for the industry”, Adobe said in a blog post.
Danny Winokur, Adobe’s vice president and general manager of interactive development, wrote: “Over the past two years, we’ve delivered Flash Player for mobile browsers and brought the full expressiveness of the web to many mobile devices. However, HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively.”
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform that is available as a plug-in for mobile devices to allow them to run videos and play games. Adobe says it will continue to issue bug fixes and security updates but will no longer development the mobile platform.
Apple’s iOS devices – the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch – have never supported Flash. That has been portrayed as a weakness in the system by supporters of Google’s Android OS but it appears that Apple’s will has eventually prevailed.
Mobile Flash was the subject of a row between Apple and Adobe 18 months ago. Adobe claimed that Apple did not allow Flash because the iPhone manufacturer wanted to protect its App Store.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, denied that claim in a post on his company’s website. He said Adobe Flash was not an open technology, was unstable and had a negative effect on battery life. He also pointed out that there were alternative technologies for things such as web video. Jobs wrote: “In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it.”
So what does this mean for the future of mobile development?
In short, it could mean a lot of things. HTML 5 is widely supported in web and mobile devices, and Adobe has definitely not neglected the language in its own suite of tools (Adobe Edge is their answer to HTML 5 development, allowing animation capabilities very similar to Flash). With the largest mobile platform for proprietary animation soon to be stepping out of the ring, we may be seeing much more HTML 5 based development in favor of mobile development for Flash. Of course, with the wide support of Flash on the web, Flash still has a happy home with the non-mobile web as its stronghold. It seems though that the mobile world will have to start looking elsewhere for a universally accepted mobile animation platform.
The Bottom Line
As a developer, we know compatibility plays a critical role in the development choices made by us and our clients. When the giants like Adobe and Apple make massive decisions, it affects the way we as developers think, create, and approach the creation of apps, animations, and websites – which ultimately affects the way that clients and the rest of the world will perceive the internet. More than anything, the ever changing development world requires us to be nimble and ready to adapt as the world changes to adopt these newer technologies. The goal though remains the same – to create an immersive world that is accessible, relevant, and meaningful for the end-user. The platforms may change, but the demand for dynamic content is only increasing. As HTML 5 steps up as the next contender for a widely supported mobile animation solution, we will have to wait and see if there is real staying power in its animation capabilities, or if it will end up as just another flash in the pan.