Its a bit tragic that Adobe has ended mobile flash forever. The tragedy is dual faced. One is felt when you put yourself in Adobe’s shoes. After all there were enormous efforts behind the product. The other is the way they have ended it once and for all. It was like throwing a piece of garbage away or exactly the way it felt when we heard absolutely no justification from Adobe side on the issue. They just considered announcement to be enough but I don’t think it was enough. Then yesterday I read a beautiful article by Mike Chambers on his blog the product manager at Adobe. He described in well deserving detail why Adobe made this decision.
The article is divided in two sections. In first section Mike tries to explain the reasons why Adobe has quite to the development of Flash for mobiles. The biggest reason in Mike’s opinion to which I agree 100% is the adoption rate. Unlike flash for Desktop which got an enormous adoption rate mobile flash did not got that same popularity. With one major vendor – Apple – simply not allowing flash on their platform it was always in the back of everyone’s mind in Adobe that Mobile Flash is not going to make much of an impact. One major factor that caused this lack of popularity was the way rich media is absorbed on Smart Phones. Desktop users mainly use browsers for rich media while Smart Phones are more dependent on Applications.
Another equally important factor that Mike described was the cost of developing mobile flash. While on desktop they relied on single API to do most of the development, mobile flash required to have more closer co-ordination with all the hardware vendors. This caused Adobe more cost and resources than they initially anticipated for it. Also on other hand if they chose to have more focus on HTML 5 for rich media, that was more cost effective and reliable solution. Also HTML 5 is an industry standard and was adoptable to almost all the vendors and because of its standardization it has low cost. Considering all these factors Adobe decided to move into a different direction and have more focus on HTML 5 rather than flash. If it wasn’t already clear enough by than, now it was that the future for mobile flash was not going to be as expected and its time to start focusing on something else. And that something else is HTML 5.
The second part of that long article has something to say about the future of adobe flash for both mobiles and desktops. This announcement has nothing to do with flash for desktops. Adobe will continue to work and develop flash for desktops and provide its users more enhanced experience with rich media on web. Further more all those users who are using mobile flash will continue to do it and Adobe will be releasing some security updates for mobile flash as well. However Mike did not mentioned till when Adobe will continue to supply those security attributes.
All in all Mike has done a wonderful job of explaining the reasons behind this move. Although it is equally sad that no one from the senior management bothered to do the same job.