Loss of Adobe Mobile Flash Leaves a Void, or Does It?
Adobe’s decision to abandon future development of its mobile Flash Player is certainly newsworthy, but one has to wonder if the platform will really be missed when all is said and done. BlackBerry PlayBook owners and Android users will feel the effects of the move as future mobile Flash updates for new configurations, operating systems, or browsers will become non existent, but life will surely go on. This becomes especially true when you consider that Flash offers more disadvantages than perks when it comes to the mobile arena.
Steve Jobs did a great job in identifying Flash’s drawbacks in an open letter released in 2010. Jobs crafted the letter in response to critics who questioned Apple’s decision to not support Flash on the iPhone. Jobs countered the criticism by noting that Flash was not properly suited for touch-screen devices, was a battery hog, and that it also lacked in the realms of security and performance. While many thought Jobs barbs were personal, it now seems as if they were true from the outset.
There are plenty of real-life examples of Flash’s poor performance on mobile devices that back Jobs’ sentiments expressed in his rather piercing open letter. Android manufacturers often listed Flash compatibility on their smartphones as an advantage over Apple’s iPhone. Unfortunately, much of that competitive edge only existed in theory, and not reality, as performance issues overshadowed any true compatibility advantages.
Ginny Mies of PCWorld cited such mobile Flash performance issues in 2010 when describing the Android-based Nexus One smartphone. She noted that browsing some mobile websites was a “painfully slow” process. As for gaming, Mies was quoted as saying that she “tried playing a couple of beloved Flash games that aren't optimized for mobile and was disappointed that I couldn't play some of them without a keyboard.”
Fast forward to 2011, and the mobile Flash reviews are not much better. Galen Gurman of InfoWorld described performance on the BlackBerry PlayBook, saying: “Flash objects are often slow to load, and some would not function. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that Flash and mobile don't mix.”
Rather than completely folding in the mobile arena, Adobe plans to concentrate on development geared towards its competitor, HTML5. The technology does not require additional plugins, and has managed to take a huge bite out of Microsoft’s Silverlight platform as well. Adobe will eventually release an official version of its Edge software, which provides the capability to create animations similar to Flash via HTML5. In addition, Adobe has already introduced Wallaby, a program that gives developers the power to recycle Flash content into HTML5 for use with Apple’s line of popular products such as the iPhone and iPad.
So, in the end, will the void left by mobile Flash be irreplaceable? It doesn’t seem that way. After all, Apple iOS users managed to live without it, and Android users never got to really enjoy the platform with true optimal performance.