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Adobe says iOS, interface realities ended mobile Flash

updated 05:40 pm EST, Fri November 11, 2011

Adobe explains exit from mobile Flash in detail

Adobe's Mike Chambers in an outside explanation clarified the company's decision to drop mobile Flash. As expected by many, the absence of Flash on iOS virtually guaranteed that the plugin would never gain ground. Web developers always had to end up making separate Flash and HTML5 versions of their pages regardless, leaving little point to supporting Flash when HTML5 would achieve a similar goal.

The modern era of smartphones and tablets, ushered in by the iPhone, also meant that many devices were using truly modern web engines that didn't just support HTML5 but were improving rapidly. Where Adobe often has to support archaic browsers on the desktop, it can assume that HTML5 is commonplace on mobile.

"Given the strong support for HTML5 across modern mobile devices, it simply made more sense to create an HTML5 based solution," Chambers wrote. "Now, there are some exceptions to this, especially around advanced video content, but it is very clear that HTML5 is the solution to turn to if you want to provide a richer browser based experience that works across browsers on mobile devices."

The Adobe developer also took down his company's own prior arguments that Flash was still ideal for touch. Phones and tablets not only used touch input but had different screen sizes, resolutions, interfaces, and slower Internet connections that meant Flash pages couldn't just translate directly. Native apps, meanwhile, had a "tight integration" between themselves, their app stores, and the OS, providing not just faster, truly optimized input but an easier way to find apps than a web page.

Platform fragmentation hurt and wasn't limited to Android. To get Flash working, Adobe had to talk to the OS developers, the individual hardware developers, and even individual part makers to develop Flash. Trying to support so many different hardware and software configurations was "simply not scalable or sustainable," Chambers said.

He was adamant that Flash was still alive on the desktop, but also made clear that it had "shifted" focus to taking over features that wouldn't be possible in HTML5 and CSS3. Developers should use whatever tool was the best for the circumstance, he said, and not arbitrarily use Flash for its own sake.

"I am not suggesting that all Flash content should or will be done in HTML5," he concluded. "You have to look at each project on a case by case basis and make a decision based on development costs, target platforms and user experience. Regardless, your customers are going to ask about HTML5, and you should put yourself in a position to best meet their needs, regardless of technology or platform."

By Electronista Staff


  1. chas_m



    Nice to see

    Someone with a clear view and a brain in their head at Adobe again. Maybe great things will result.

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jan 2000



    this straight talk direct from the source will shut the iHaters up now. Doubtful, but it doesn't get much clearer than this.

  1. Eriamjh

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Oct 2001


    Only 4 years too late

    The first iPhone didn't support it because it was c***. Not a single phone today does it well today. Adobe probably wasted millions. Let it die and die quickly. HTML5 is the future (at least for now).

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Not long for desktops either...

    ClickToFlash was a great option for Safari. Killed off all those annoying Flash ads and all those annoying Flash animations on all those poorly-designed web sites. You know them, you hate them: "12%... 15%... 19%... 24%... 26%... 29%...". The splash pages that made you frantically search for the "Skip Intro" button.

    Flash animation, when misused on home pages, is simply a justification for web designers' fees. They dazzle unsophisticated clients with fancy animation. Meanwhile, we all suffer long load times and gaudy, overdone "intros."

    Easily fixed on Safari:
    Preferences > Security > uncheck Enable Plugins.

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