updated 11:40 pm EST, Wed November 9, 2011
RIM reacts to being abandoned by Adobe on Flash
RIM will keep working on Flash on the BlackBerry PlayBook despite Adobe's exit from mobile Flash, the company said in a statement. It vowed to AllThingsD that, as a licensee of Adobe's source code, it would work on its own variant on Flash. Despite Adobe itself saying HTML5 was a superior choice for mobile devices, RIM was still echoing Adobe's previous attitude, saying that a complete browser needed both Flash and HTML5 to work.
"We will continue to work on and release our own implementations," it said. "RIM remains committed to delivering an uncompromised Web browsing experience to our customers, including native support for Adobe Flash Player on our BlackBerry PlayBook tablet (similar to a desktop PC browser), as well as HTML5 support on both our BlackBerry smartphone and PlayBook browsers."
RIM also spun the switch to HTML5, claiming that it gave more "opportunities" to developers.
The comments, while helpful for those continuing to support the PlayBook, still show the consequences of RIM putting all its trust in Adobe as the foundation of most of its tablet apps. RIM now has to take on the responsibility itself. It will also have to tone down its marketing since it, like most Android makers, has spent a disproportionate amount of time marketing Flash but won't get Adobe's direct help.
BBX, its next-generation smartphone interface using the PlayBook's foundations, may not get further cooperation from Adobe.
Other companies have similarly tried to use Flash as a make-or-break feature without any success. Toshiba attacked iOS users visiting the Thrive tablet's teaser page in January, but the tablet didn't ship for another six months and received poor reviews. Motorola used flash as the cornerstone of the Xoom's pre-launch campaign; ultimately, it had to delay it until spring and has so far seen sales level off early and quickly decline.
RIM itself shipped a modest 500,000 PlayBooks in the spring but is believed to have made the bad assumption that it could sell many more, leading it to cut its summer shipments to just 200,000 units and allow steep discounts of $200 or more. The decrease points to few buyers caring about Flash as a feature enough to buy the PlayBook over the iPad or a few Android tablets.