In an abrupt about-face in its mobile software strategy, Adobe will soon cease developing its Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers, according to an e-mail sent to Adobe partners on Tuesday evening.
And with that e-mail flash, Adobe has signaled that it knows, as Steve Jobs predicted, the end of the Flash era on the web is coming soon.
The e-mail, obtained and first reported on by ZDNet, says that Adobe will no longer continue to “adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations,” instead focusing on alternative application packaging programs and the HTML5 protocol.
“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,” the quoted e-mail says.
In the past, Adobe has released software tools for mobile developers that create a single platform programmers can use to make applications that work across three major mobile platforms: Android, iOS and the BlackBerry OS. While it’s seemingly easier than learning all of the native languages for each operating system, some developers have claimed a loss in app performance when coding in a non-native language that then gets translated into other languages.
The move indicates a massive backpedaling on Adobe’s part, a company who championed its Flash platform in the face of years of naysaying about its use on mobile devices. Despite Flash’s near ubiquity across desktop PCs, many in the greater computing industry, including, famously, Apple Computer, have denounced the platform as fundamentally unstable on mobile browsers, and an intense battery drain. In effect, Flash’s drawbacks outweigh the benefits on mobile devices.
Apple made its biggest waves in the case against Flash in April of last year, when Steve Jobs penned a1,500-word screed against the controversial platform, describing it as a technology of the past. Jobs and Apple disliked the platform so intensely, it has since been barred from use on all iOS devices.
The drastic reversal in Adobe’s mobile plans comes in the wake of the company cutting 750 jobs on Tuesday, a move prompted by what Adobe labeled “corporate restructuring.”
In a separate release, Adobe emphasized the continued development of its Creative Suite software, a greater investment in HTML5, enhancing digital publishing solutions, investing in media monetization (the company just acquired Auditude) and increasing focus on electronic contracts and signatures through the recent acquisition of EchoSign. This will be combined with offering marketers better solutions as well.
What does this mean for those of us that already have Flash on our phones? Not much. Security patches and bug fixes will still be developed. The real changes come when you consider new hardware architecture or new builds of Android. These deceives won’t be supported. It’s an interesting move, and we’re curious to see how it plays out.
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