Adobe moves away from Flash for mobiles

Adobe will focus its mobile developments on HTML5 rather than Flash in the future, as the open standard-based media technology is more widely supported across a range of mobile devices

Adobe plans to ditch Flash Player for mobile, and will instead focus its mobile software development on HTML5.

Flash Player 10.1

Adobe's Flash lies behind many content delivery platforms, such as BBC's iPlayer for mobile. Photo credit: David Meyer

The company announced the shift on Wednesday, confirming a report from sister site The company said it will not put out updates for the mobile Flash browser plug-in after the launch of Flash Player 11.1.

"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," Danny Winokur, vice president of interactive management at Adobe, said in a blog post.

"We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations — chipset, browser, OS version, etc — following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook," he noted.

Adobe's Flash Player media technology is in widespread use on websites for playing online video and other media, but it has had less success on mobiles than on the desktop.

The company had a high-profile falling out with Apple chief Steve Jobs, who claimed that Flash drained battery life, lacked touch compatibility and had security and performance concerns. Microsoft also moved away from Flash, saying in September that the Metro version of its Internet Explorer 10 browser in Windows 8 will not support the platform.

In addition, Adobe has had to contend with a growth in popularity and widespread support for HTML5. The web technology is based on open standards, unlike Adobe's proprietary Flash, and handles online video and animation across all platforms. It has become especially popular in mobile devices, and some devices — of which the iPhone is the most high-profile — exclusively support HTML5, but not Flash. To get around this, Adobe added iOS support for Flash by creating a workaround within Apple rules.

Despite the shift in strategy, Adobe re-affirmed its commitment to Flash Player on the desktop. It noted the features it had introduced in Flash 11, and in the upcoming Flash 12, such as hardware-accelerated 3D graphics and premium high-definition video with content protection support.


"We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the [World Wide Web Consortium] and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible, just as we have done with CSS Shaders," Winokur said.

"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," he added.

Despite dropping Flash Player for mobiles, the company promised to keep issuing bug fixes and security updates for existing device versions. It will also continue to allow licensees to work on their own implementations, according to Winokur.

The news of the shift came a day after Adobe said it would cut 750 full-time jobs in the US and Europe, in a restructuring to focus on digital media and marketing. The company, best known for Photoshop and other multimedia creation software, made the announcement on Tuesday. It said pre-tax restructuring costs will likely be between $87m (£54.5m) and $94m, covering consolidation of leased facilities and costs related to employee severance packages.


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