Apple's Steve Jobs vindicated as Adobe kills mobile Flash

By Jonny Evans

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Android-lovers and Apple-friends, lend me your ears: I come to bury that failed, foolish Flash for mobile experiment, not to praise it, for tomorrow belongs to HTML 5. And Adobe's [ADBE] decision to dump Flash for mobile devices means Apple [AAPL] offers the best mobile multimedia experiences in the world.

[ABOVE: Apple's mobile OS is the best around at HTML 5 support. iOS 5 lends a 2,000 per cent improvement in HTML 5 Speed Reading Rendering tests according to]

Adobe's Eureka Flash on mobile sucks moment

In a sudden moment of clarity, Adobe has seen the light and abandoned development of Flash for mobile, proving Apple cofounder, Steve Jobs, got it right when he wrote his diatribe against the formerly important multimedia standard.

"Flash has not performed well on mobile devices," wrote Steve in 2010. "We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it."

It now appears we have never seen it, and, depite all the prayers and exhortations in the storms amid that almost Biblical thunder and imagined lightning on the mountain tops by the wise men and seers of the multimedia age, we never will.

An Adobe memo informs us:

"Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. 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."


[ABOVE: Some interesting data on iOS 5 and HTML 5.0.]

Flash jumps back into the pan

This doesn't mean Flash is going away, it's just going to be refocused as a development environment from which you'll be able to generate multimedia assets for various platforms, all in sexy, sensible and easy to support HTML 5.0.

The move is part of a package of changes at Adobe, which has also announced plans to cut 750 jobs, my thoughts go to all those people.

In truth, the demise of Flash for mobile isn't unexpected.

Even those Android fans who would bleat about how they had Flash on their devices would complain at its poor performance, system impediments and battery draining powers.

Strangely enough, their complaints mirrored the precise reasons Apple wouldn't support Flash on its mobile devices.

Service please

Gandhi once said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." It seems that's how Adobe's hoping to find the future for Flash. It won't be a hitchiker on mobile devices any more, but a servant aiming to deliver multimedia experiences for your platform of choice.

Adobe offered a glimpse at its future plans when it introduced Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5 and Adobe Flash Access 3.0 last September. These offered Flash support to iOS devices in absolutely the best way -- streaming assets from the server to an iOS device.

To stream assets from a server to all devices using HTML 5 is absolutely the best next step. Adobe will obviously be focusing efforts on replicating the whole Flash "experience" for mobile devices, in the most processor and battery-friendly ways it can -- from the server.

"With Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5, media publishers now have a single, simple workflow for delivering content using the same stream to Flash-enabled devices or to the Apple iPhone and iPad."


HTML 5.0 is the new frontier

In his much-cited 'Thoughts On Flash' note published last year, then Apple CEO, Steve Jobs challenged Adobe to get with the new post-PC times.

"New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind," he wrote.

Adobe's move to embrace HTML 5 will be excellent news for iOS users, as Apple's mobile OS is the best around at HTML 5 support. iOS 5 lends a 2,000 per cent improvement in HTML 5 Speed Reading Rendering tests according to

Sencha's recent (November) study supports the position, pointing out that Safari on iOS is much faster than before. Its tests showed that iOS 5 is a much better platform for rendering, WebGL, compass directions and much more.

"Mobile Safari continues to hold the crown as the best mobile browser, providing the best HTML5 developer platform as well as adding new features and improving others," they inform.

That's the point overall. Adobe's decision to flip out of the mobile browser market not only vindicates Apple's decision but also underlines Apple's  great advantage in contrast to other browsers.

"iOS 5 has 36 percent more HTML5 capabilities baked in than its predecessor iOS 4.3, 33 percent more than the current Android 3.2 "Honeycomb" tablet browser, and 61 percent more than the current Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" smartphone browser," wrote InfoWorld last month.

This isn't Apple holic fantasy. These are facts based on data. If you care about virtual experiences, Apple now offers the best mobile experience in the world.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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