Adobe to switch focus from Flash to HTML5 on mobile devices

by Marty Gabel

Danny Winokur, VP and GM of Interactive Development at Adobe, today announced via a blog posting that the company is no longer going to develop Flash for mobile devices, mobile apps and PC browsing. Adobe will embrace HTML5 further and continue to develop that technology instead.

Famously, Steve Jobs and Apple refused to allow the product to run on iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. But for the past couple of years, Adobe has continued to develop the mobile version of Flash which has worked reasonably well on Android devices. Many Android owners cite it as an advantage over other mobile operating systems that their tablets and smartphones can run Adobe Flash for viewing video or other media-rich content.

Driving HTML5 innovation

Now, all that will change. Danny Winokur writes that “HTML5 [is] the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. 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.”

When it comes to mobile Flash, don’t expect it to disappear or no longer be supported on your Android device. Instead, Adobe will focus more on helping developers to package apps with native support for Adobe AIR across all devices. Winokur also writes “We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations.” This will be encouraging news for those who still rely on Flash working properly for various websites and apps.

Why didn’t Flash succeed?

Erica Ogg over at GigaOM offers some useful insight into why Flash didn’t really work out on mobile devices. She cites a number of reasons, including the simple fact that it didn’t perform that well. While Flash content runs decently at low resolutions, once you up the quality it starts to get sluggish, and on some devices may not run at all. She also mentions that the lack of across-the-board support has not helped, and how it can sap the battery life of a device. This is certainly not appreciated in a world where we’re becoming more and more reliant on our smartphones to access the information we want quickly and efficiently.

HTML5 looks like it’s here to stay. It’s fast, efficient, has cross-device support, and many developers are using it. Also, a lot of big name companies, including Facebook and Amazon, are making the switch to HTML5 and abandoning Flash. Now that Adobe is doing the same, smartphone users everywhere will be able to enjoy great content from anywhere, regardless of the operating systems they’re using. This is definitely a positive development in a market already somewhat fragmented with developers able to push out new content to customers whether they use the latest Android smartphone or a shiny new iPad.