Adobe today formally announced that it would discontinue development of Flash on the mobile browser. In a post on Adobe’s conversations blog titled “Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5,” Danny Winokur of Adobe, confirmed the news, which was first reported by ZDNet.
The announcement said:
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 adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.
The announcement nowhere mentions the unsatisfactory performance of Flash on mobile browsers, and instead says that HTML5 is increasingly becoming capable of doing what Flash was able to do. While the latter is true, almost all reviewers of Flash enabled phones have pointed out that the plugin results in degradation in scrolling performance and dropped video frames.
As Steve Jobs had said on multiple occasions defending Apple’s decision to not allow Flash on iOS devices, Adobe failed to show Apple a working Flash build on iOS (or any mobile device) with satisfactory performance. In his “Thoughts on Flash” open letter, Jobs outlined six major issues with Flash, which at that time may not have been apparent, but in hindsight seem very correct.
Interestingly, there are questions being raised over the future of Silverlight, Microsoft’s answer to Flash, as well. Microsoft, just like Adobe, had said sometime back, that the future of the web on mobile as well as PCs was in HTML5.
What this trend shows is, as HTML5 gets more mature, Flash’s (and other plugins’) importance on the PC would go on decreasing, to the point where Adobe would have to make a similar announcement for all browsers. This won’t be anytime soon though, since HTML5 is still in development stages and would take many years to finalize.
While Google tried to incorporate Flash in Android and marketed it as one of its unique selling points, Apple realised quite early that Flash was designed for PCs and not suitable for mobile devices and decided not to support it to ensure that users don’t have to experience the degraded performance on iOS devices. Kudos to Steve Jobs and Apple for seeing the demise of Mobile Flash even before its creators.