On November 9th, Adobe’s decision to discontinue active development of Flash for mobile platforms spread like wildfire, and was heralded as the death of Flash. Tech journalists and analysts wrote on the obvious and the news further validated the notion that HTML5 can substitute what Flash could do. After all, Steve Jobs was redeemed.
The reality is, that in its current state, HTML5 simply does NOT have the ability to replicate the rich animation, and slick user-experience, that Flash is capable of through Action Script and Flex. The key contribution HTML5 made to replace Flash is its support for embedded video within web-content. However, Flash’s contribution goes way beyond the audio/video support in a web-page. HTML5’s animation through Canvas Java scripting is rudimentary compared to the power of Flash animation.
So why did Adobe choose to take this decisive step? My guess is they want to pass on this burden to the mobile OS developers, namely Android and Blackberry. Any loss in potential revenue from Flash authoring tools will be more than compensated by the huge demand for HTML5 authoring tools, as Adobe now becomes the lead flag bearer for the technology. My reasoning is driven by the following write-up from Danny Winokur, Adobe’s VP and GM of Interactive Development.
“We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementation.” -Danny Winokur, Vice President & General Manager, Interactive Development at Adobe
Read the full blog at: http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2011/11/flash-focus.html
The last sentence in this write-up tells me that Android and Blackberry are probably the source code licensees who will pick-up the ongoing development to differentiate their devices from their main competitor, Apple, which has sworn to ban Flash on their mobile devices. The advantage for Google and Research In Motion (RIM) to support their Flash is that they only need to provide support for their own devices, and not every mobile OS, chipset or browser. The jury is out on Microsoft.
My assertion is driven by the fact that we are all used to the high standard of animation made possible by Flash. Will content developers, and their audience, settle for a web-experience that is a decade old? Perhaps not, but until we have an alternative technology able to create that slick user-experience, mobile Flash will survive, may be even thrive through support from Google and RIM. Time will tell.
Shadan Malik– President & CEO, iDashboards