Adobe Ceases Future Development of Flash for Mobile Devices

The tech industry received somewhat of a surprise earlier this week when it was announced that Adobe would discontinue future efforts to develop its beloved Flash multimedia platform for mobile environments. ZDNet reported that some of the mobile versions of Flash that will cease to exist in the future include those for RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, as well as Flash for Android, among others.

According to a quote derived from ZDNet, Adobe broke the news to developers by saying: “We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations.  Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates."

While Adobe’s latest move obviously creates a negative impact for the company itself, others are sure to feel the ill effects as well.  In particular, manufacturers of Android devices could see a dent in sales, as they have cited Flash compatibility of their tablets and smartphones as a competitive advantage over the mega popular iPad and iPhone from Apple.  Steve Jobs, Apple’s highly recognizable former CEO who recently passed, refused to offer Flash support on his company’s mobile products for a variety of reasons.  Now that Adobe has decided to continue its mobile Flash development, it appears as if Jobs may have been right all along, despite the fact that many believed his reasoning was purely personal.

Beyond Apple’s rejection of Flash, other reasons likely stand behind the platform’s downfall.  HTML5 has steadily gained in popularity over time, and Flash performance has been deemed as underwhelming in several instances.  Flash gained the unbecoming reputation of being lethargic and unreliable on the BlackBerry PlayBook and many Android devices, even if it was supposed to perform at satisfactory levels on such products.  Factor in Adobe’s recent announcement that it would cut 750 jobs and shift its focus to more winnable battles, and it is easy to see how Flash took a nosedive.  On the bright side, Adobe did say that it would work on designing tools to aid Flash developers with creating mobile apps.  Such tools would push development by allowing users to package their code to function on the Adobe AIR platform.

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