Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

Summary: It was obvious 18 months ago that Adobe had lost the smartphone Flash player war. So why did it take them so long to admit it?


Adobe's loss was inevitable (see Adobe: smartphone Flash player battle officially lost after Adobe failed to deliver iOS support - heck, Flash stinks on a 3.4 GHz quad-core i7 iMac - but it's a case study in how corporations deny reality.

Adobe's belated admission that they can't succeed with their smartphone Flash player - for all the reasons Steve Jobs detailed - was a long time coming. Why?

The 5 stages of corporate denial Like the 5 stages of the Kübler-Ross model for grief, like this: 1) denial; 2) anger; 3) bargaining; 4) depression, and; 5) surrender.

How this worked at Adobe:

  1. Denial: No flash on 1st iPhone. "I think Apple's entry into the market with iPhone is only going to enhance the importance of the user experience on handsets across the spectrum, which plays to our strengths." Huh?
  2. Anger: Flash is on 98% of all PCs. Apple has to come around because users won't stand for not getting the content they want. And if that doesn't do it, Flash on Android will!
  3. Bargaining: "The technology problems that Mr. Jobs mentions in his essay are "really a smokescreen," Mr. Narayen [Adobe CEO] says.
  4. Depression: “If you can build an app using our tools, and if you run it through AIR, it can be in the App Store.”
  5. Acceptance: OK, we're going with HTML5 and Adobe Air. Prior statements on Flash are inoperative.

Wait, Adobe Air? Google "adobe flash problems" and you'll get over 80 million results. Google "adobe air problems" and you'll get over 20 million results - 90% of them on PCs. I guess that's an improvement - except Air hasn't been around that long. Haven't we seen this movie before?

The Storage Bits take Forget the country club whining about government stifling innovation: the biggest problem is between executive's ears. Just as RIM and Microsoft pooh-poohed the iPhone, Adobe believed their own hype about Flash for far too long.

Adobe may get the last laugh after all. According to them AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) includes Flash Player as the runtime environment.

Maybe AIR isn't much of an improvement: I took it off my Mac after it starting causing all-too-familiar problems. Can they fix Air better than they did Flash?

Readers, what is your experience with AIR?

Comments welcome, of course. I do like Adobe's Photoshop Elements 9, although I mostly use Graphic Converter for photo editing.

Topics: Mobile OS, Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Software Development

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  • Cut them SOME slack...

    You don't throw out everything you worked for and come up with a new strategy and release it to the public overnight. It takes time to do these things right, and if they want to succeed they have to get things right the first time out.
    Michael Kelly
  • totally wrong

    Yes Flash is famous for its crashes, but it has become a lot more stable in in the last year or so.
    I watch flash on my TouchPad and Roku and found it performing better than other options. I am not prepared to bash Adobe because Flash is so bad. I don't think it is as bad as the perception has it. I am however displeased with a decision to stop developing a solid, but perhaps on a downcycle product and dumping a pile ... on users and developers heads. What am I supposed to do now: return my Roku and Samsung android phone and go with an iphone because Adobe said so?
    • RE: Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet


      Perhaps you have lower standards. Flash has never worked well on mobile. Even the smallest banner ads made scrolling stutter on Android based web viewing. Videos were a mixed bag. Sometimes they were okay, sometimes stutter. They were always a performance hog and ill suited for mobile.

      As for the iPhone, nobody is telling you to switch to iPhone. That's the point of embracing HTML 5 and open standards. Every platform wins here.

      It's funny that even Adobe has come to accept reality, yet people like you still think this was bad move for Adobe. You must still be in the denial stage that Rob mentions above.

      As for Air, yes, technically that will work across platforms, but once again, AIR apps are inferior to native apps and are likewise a bad choice for developers to embrace.
    • Flash has no future, but it is not going to disappear overnight.

      @vpasman2@... keep your Touchpad, your Roku and your Samsung phone. You will be able to enjoy? flash on them for the forseable future.
  • Go with AIR? Fool me twice? HAHHAHAAHA. No thanks adobe.

    How about you just change your tools to output great html5+css+js and leave it at that?
    Johnny Vegas
  • Can you complain if it's free?

    You can download flash player for free. You can watch flash movies for free. You can't complain about that. Adobe can't help it if people buy a product that isn't flash capable. So talk to Apple about the problem, maybe they can squeeze you in for an appointment at the Apple store.
  • Correction: There was no "smartphone Flash player war".

    Rather, there was an attempt by Adobe to build a working Flash player for smartphones. They failed.
  • RE: Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

    AIR, don't need it don't want it. I uninstall it every time I see it on my netwokred PCs. Too bad it gets installed without asking!
  • Deleted AIR long ago, hardly ever use Flash. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    It's funny, I can manipulate 8MP RAW files with ease using Photoshop CS3 on my old G4 PB, without skipping a beat; but 640x480 flash videos either in a browser window, or in AIR app bring it to its knees, turning into an unwatchable, stuttering slide show.

    Their Flash programmers should have been shown the door years ago. Hard to believe senior management put the creative suite on the back burner so they could devote so much to such terrible software. What were they thinking?!?
    Scott Kitts
  • Google me this, Batman

    [ul][i]Google ???adobe flash problems??? and you???ll get over 80 million results.[/i][/ul]
    That's a cheap trick. Google "Windows problems" and you'll get 342 million. Oracle problems? 80 million.

    P.S. Google knows about 7 million ZDNet problems.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

    I was definitely one of those people who thought when the iPhone was released that eventually iPhones would have Flash built into them. However, Apple consistently chose not to include it, and look at where we are at now ??? Flash caved first.
  • RE: Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

    I think one of the main (if not the main) reason Apple didn't want Flash on iPhone was because they didn't want to lose control of the lucrative App Store. Having Flash on the phone meant that people could run complicated applications without paying 1 penny to Apple.

    But now if HTML 5 takes off, Apple will have the same problem. You basically have a framework capable of running rich applications that are all completely bypassing the App Store. This time Apple can't put of smokescreens like it being a CPU hog, unstable, insecure (all valid reasons BTW, but conveniently hiding the main reason of it bypassing the App Store).

    My question is what is Apple going to do this time to keep people locked into their App Store?
  • RE: Adobe bites mobile Flash bullet

    HTML5 is not all that it is hyped to be in terms of video performance. Indeed if you go into WebKit you will find that it draws via an interface called GraphicsContext (which is implemented differently for different builds of WebKit). The GraphicsContext API for drawing is a throwback to the early 90's. The HTML5 Canvas2D element uses essentially the same API to draw, to get an idea of how crappy it is, try any of these on a portable device:<br><br> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a> <br> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><br><br>you will find they all run badly... even on a laptops at times! My freaking 16bit SNES could do a much better job than that in terms of performance. <br><br>The only way to get stuff drawn fast end in an interesting way for a browser is via WebGL... which in all brutal honesty, most web programmers are not up to using a JavaScript binding to GL because their matrix algebra skills are so lacking.<br><br>Movie's are ok under HTML5 _IF_ the hardware has a video decoder for the movie format (and if the browser supports it). Some browsers (ahem Firefox) do not support all movie formats for non-technical reasons (patent and/or political reasons essentially).