Adobe discontinues development of mobile Flash

On November 9, Adobe announced that it was discontinuing development of the mobile version of the Flash Player for smartphones and tablets. What does this mean for the web in general and more importantly what does this mean for web designers and developers? Let's take a step back and review the primary role of Flash in the year 2011, primarily we see Flash on the web being used for: a.) Web video, b.) Multimedia content such as web banners, games, interactive charts/graphs and c.) Rich Internet Applications embedded within web pages (examples include anything from music players to financial applications.) On the desktop, Flash requires a browser plugin to deliver all of this content and the plugin has had incredible success over the years, with the vast majority of web browsers having some version of the plugin installed. Translating desktop success to mobile proved to be much more difficult for Adobe. Apple's Steve Jobs famously spoke out against Flash in 2010, claiming that tests of the technology resulted in poorer performance on the iPhone (among other things) and made it publicly clear that Flash would likely never be supported on Apple iOS devices. Although mobile versions of Flash are supported on the latest Android devices, the widespread popularity of Apple devices must have contributed to Adobe's  decision to discontinue development of mobile Flash (although they will continue to support existing versions). Another factor in Adobe's decision is the rise of HTML5, a collection of new features and technology for the Web. Many of the features that Flash has come to stand for (see above) can be accomplished with HTML5, which does not require a browser plugin and is not a proprietary technology but one based on web standards and not owned by anybody. So web video and audio, animation (using both the new Canvas API as well as CSS),  and many other features can now be built with a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript and work just as well on a mobile device as it does on the desktop. For designers and developers, the path now could not be more clear: if you are interested in creating content for mobile devices then HTML5 is one of the main roads to take. Another main road is the development of native applications for mobile devices, which  Adobe also has a stake in with Adobe Air and their popular applications Flash Professional and Dreamweaver. Adobe's decision to focus on HTML5 for mobile is a good thing for all of us in this continually evolving industry. The major players on the Web including Google, Microsoft, Apple and many others, have all put their support behind HTML5 and this means designers and developers can get down to the important business of creating great content without having to worry about which technology they are choosing.


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