As you may have seen a few weeks ago, Adobe is giving up on Flash for mobile devices, and is embracing HTML5.
Flash doesn’t run on Apple’s iOS devices. That’s not news, of course. Flash has never run on the iPhone, iPod touch or the iPad. This was big when the iPad was introduced: How could Apple claim that the tablet provided access to the Internet when so many popular Flash-based websites wouldn’t work?
Pundits declared Apple arrogant in its refusal to install a Flash runtime on its iOS devices. In early 2010, Adobe claimed that Apple was creating a closed ecosystem with its portable computers, and that Flash was an open technology.
In April 2010, Steve Jobs fought back with his thoughts on Flash, in which he argued (convincingly in my opinion) that the opposite was true: That Apple, by pushing Web developers to use HTML5 instead of Flash, was on the side of open standards, and that Adobe’s Flash was a closed proprietary system.
Jobs further argued that Apple had never seen a Flash implementation that performed well on portable devices.
Since that time (a year and a half ago), iOS’ lack of Flash has become less and less of an issue. As a consumer who owns both an iPhone and an iPad, certainly I found fewer and fewer websites that relied upon Flash. And although you can run Flash on Android devices (and I own both Android phones and tablets), to be honest, this was never a significant reason for me to pick up an Android device instead of an Apple one.
In large part, that’s because developers of popular websites did exactly what Jobs predicted: They either moved away from Flash entirely, or created parallel graphics display systems that sniffed out iOS devices and offered them an HTML5 experience.
Once a website starts down that road, it’s nearly inevitable that the site will abandon Flash altogether sooner or later. I won’t miss it.
It looks like Adobe won’t miss it either. On Nov. 9, the company’s official blog wrote “Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5.”
The blogger, Danny Winokur, an Adobe vice president, wrote, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.” Yes.
What’s the future of Flash? Adobe says that it is still developing it as a PC-based technology. But as you saw in SD Times last week, Adobe has turned its Flex development environment over to the Apache Software Foundation. Flex has been open-source software for some time, and while Adobe is expected to continue contributing to its development, Apache will now be calling the shots.
I wonder how long Adobe will hold out on Flash. As a desktop-only platform, it’s not very compelling. The future belongs to HTML5.
Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.