What does the death of Flash mean for Android?

by Kristen Nicole

Now that Flash is being discontinued, what does it mean for Android? Many say Steve Jobs’ manifesto against Adobe’s technology was the beginning of the end for Flash, and the iPad seemed to have helped drive a nail into that coffin. As Adobe shifts its focus from Flash to HTML5 and other technologies, Android devices will have to be even more creative to stand out. Flash is no longer a major point of differentiation amongst tablets, and HTML5 has always represented the promise of a more standardized mobile platform democratizing developers’ efforts across the board. But even as the future of mobile finds its comfort level with HTML5, will Android be affected at all?

Adobe’s role in HTML5

It’s important to first point out that Adobe itself hasn’t necessarily declared Flash as “dead.” Their announcement this week focused on new technologies it’s working on, with the demise of Flash being an implicit byproduct of Adobe’s statements. And even though the rise of iOS seemed to predicate the end of Flash, Adobe’s always had a steady focus on the developer community, readying its technology for whatever the mobile space’s next iteration would be. Recent developments have hinted at Adobe’s shift in focus, including the recent acquisition of PhoneGap to build out its native app development tools for HTML5 in particular.

“This takes it one step further to address fragmentation,” says Ben Ford, director of evangelism at Adobe. “You write the code and we’ll worry about new devices. Apps will just work the way they’re supposed to.”

“We have multiple ways to address [fragmentation],” Ford continues. “The big problem we want to solve is HTML5—we’re equally committed to the HTML5 space and in the browser itself, so the mobile web experience is richer.”

Can Android stand out without Flash?

For Android, this could be an opportunity to play up the specs, as BusinessInsider points out. From faster processors to expandable storage and a quad-core chipset, as Asus has done with the new Eee Pad Transformer Prime, or beating the iPad on price, as the Kindle Fire and B&N NOOK are doing with the nearing holiday season. But device differentiation aside, it’s the web experience that matters. Even Google is focusing on HTML5 with its Apps roll out, discontinuing Gmail on BlackBerry phones as part of a larger concentration on HTML5 resources.

Still, Android is only part of the story when it comes to HTML5. Mobile platforms and app makers are hedging their bets with it, supporting the range of mobile operating systems with a defined effort around HTML5. It’s about appealing to developers, as Appcelerator has done with its own key acquisitions towards building out its HTML5 support.

Investors are hopeful for HTML5 as well. Bitzer Mobile nabbed $4.75 million in its first round of funding to develop HTML5 enterprise apps for Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry devices. This means Android will certainly have to play up other areas of differentiation, but as the most prevalent OS on the market, Android remains a big part of HTML5’s story.