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InfoQ Homepage News Adobe Will No Longer Develop Flash for Mobile Browsers

Adobe Will No Longer Develop Flash for Mobile Browsers

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Adobe has decided to stop developing Flash for mobile browsers. They will focus instead on creating tools for native applications using AIR and HTML5 ones.

Adobe is going to host a Financial Analyst Meeting today, Nov. 9th, 2011, explaining their strategy for the future. They outlined the main points of the strategy in a press release, mentioning a shift of resources to HTML5 development through Dreamweaver, Edge and PhoneGap, and an adjustment of their plans for Flash:

Focusing Flash resources on delivering the most advanced PC web experiences, including gaming and premium video, as well as mobile apps.

It is not very clear from this press release what the change means for Flash, but Adobe’s partners have been informed that Adobe will no longer develop Flash for mobile platforms, according to ZDNet:

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.

Adobe continues their email to partners detailing that they will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers, and instead will focus on creating native applications for mobile and will continue investing in HTML5.

In yet another blog post, Adobe says they will release Flash Player 11.1 for Android and RIM’s PlayBook, but they will not continue developing for mobile browsers after that, except for critical bugs and security fixes. Flash will continue its life on the desktop, being tuned for gaming and video. Adobe says they are already working on version 12, without detailing what new features they are preparing. On the mobile front, Flash developers will be able to package native applications with AIR, extending Flash's life on iOS and Android. This means Adobe focuses on Flash as a runtime rather than as a browser plug-in.

This move from Adobe has been expected. There have been signs along the way pointing to the fact that Adobe needs to do something radical about Flash. See InfoQ’s HTML5 vs. Flash: Where does Adobe Stand? and What is the Future of Flash and Flex? for more information on past evolutions.

The first alarm signal was triggered by Apple by not including Flash in the iPhone in 2007. Then it was Steve Jobs’ post, Thoughts on Flash, explaining that Flash is consuming too many resources on smartphones and Adobe is not making the technology ready in time. Adobe finally released Flash for Mobile on June, 2010, making it available for Android. It seems that Adobe has not being able to keep up with the smartphones market which has been extremely dynamic over the last few years.

Adobe now plans to have a two-fold strategy: native apps and HTML5. Adobe has recently bought Nitobi, the developer of PhoneGap, a cross-platform open source mobile development framework generating native applications from HTML and JavaScript, so this acquisition will help them with the native app strategy. But they will also invest more in HTML5 tools to make sure they are on this market too in case this web technology proves to be a winner or at least a major contender.

It is interesting to note that Adobe has also announced the elimination of 750 full-time positions mostly in North America and Europe, representing about 8% of the total workforce.


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