Adobe takes Jobs' advice, exits mobile Flash to focus on HTML5

HTML5 now the "best solution" for browser content across mobile platforms, Adobe admits...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

HTML5 now the "best solution" for browser content across mobile platforms, Adobe admits...

Adobe is ending development of its Flash Player on mobile devices to focus on HTML5 - a year and a half after Apple's Steve Jobs penned an open letter urging it to switch its mobile efforts to HTML5.

HTML5, the newest specification of the software code web pages are written in, allows Flash-style rich functionality to be added to web content in browsers - such as streaming video and apps.


Adobe is ditching its mobile Flash efforts to invest in the newest web standard of HTML5Creative Commons: W3C

Many mobile developers are already developing mobile apps in HTML5 instead of building native apps as it simplifies app development in a multiplatform mobile OS world. HTML5 also effectively replaces Flash functionality on mobiles by doing away with the need for a plug-in to support video and other rich content.

Despite spending two years developing its mobile Flash Player - supported on Android-based mobile devices and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, but not Apple's iOS devices - Adobe is finally taking Jobs' advice and switching its efforts to HTML5.

Writing in a blog post today, Danny Winokur, VP & general manager, interactive development at Adobe, conceded HTML5 is a better fit for mobile devices. "Over the past two years, we've delivered Flash Player for mobile browsers and brought the full expressiveness of the web to many mobile devices. However, HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms," he wrote.

"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."

Adobe said its future work with Flash on mobile devices will focus on enabling Flash developers to...

...package native apps with Adobe Air - its cross-operating system runtime tool - for "all the major app stores".

"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," Winokur said, adding: "We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations."

In April last year, Apple's former CEO Steve Jobs penned an open letter to Adobe, slating Flash's performance on mobile devices and urging the company to switch its efforts to HTML5 on mobile. Jobs attacked Flash for poor performance, draining battery life and being buggy and prone to security flaws, among other criticisms.

"New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too)," wrote Jobs in April 2010, urging Adobe to focus on "creating great HTML5 tools for the future".

Jobs' prediction that HTML5 will win appears to be coming to fruition. As it kills its mobile Flash efforts, Adobe said it will increase investment in HTML5 and work with the W3C and WebKit to bring Flash-style capabilities to HTML5. It also said it will design new features in Flash to smooth the transition to HTML5 as the standard - which is more than three years away from being ratified - evolves to ensure its developers aren't left high and dry.

Adobe is not ditching Flash altogether - it will focus its efforts on the desktop PC space, specifically flagging up advanced gaming and premium video as two areas where Flash can compete. It noted Flash Player 11 for PC browsers has introduced a range of new features, including hardware-accelerated 3D graphics for "console-quality gaming" and HD video with content protection.

Adobe added that it is already working on Flash Player 12 which it said will include features aimed at delivering "high-definition entertainment experiences".

Reporting its fourth quarter results yesterday, Adobe said it plans to invest "aggressively" in two growing market areas: digital media and digital marketing - and announced around 750 job cuts in North America and Europe as part of this business restructuring.

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