Mobile Flash and the mCommerce Opportunity
Last Wednesday, we watched as Adobe hammered the final nail in the coffin of mobile Flash by removing Flash Player from Google Play. We already knew that it would not be available for Jelly Bean, and as Adobe halted development of Flash Player for mobile browsers, Google’s Chrome for Android does not support Flash content either. While this version of Chrome is not the stock Android browser, it is likely to become so in future – the Nexus 7 tablet came with only Chrome pre-installed. Of course, not being able to access Flash content is something that iOS users are familiar with. The lack of Flash is typically not a problem, as mobile web developers are keen to get the attention of iOS users and leverage their higher spending habits. Now, while those Android devices which already have Flash Player installed will receive updates, no new Android devices will be able to download Flash Player, effectively killing Flash off. So why should we care about the demise of mobile Flash? The answer is simple: Flash is near-ubiquitous on desktop and people using older browsers may not be able to view HTML5. HTML5 does not offer any digital rights management, and so content such as videos or music cannot be protected. Many businesses may choose to continue using Flash, rather than HTML5 and its complementary technologies for these reasons and others, such as, the lack of device support in HTML5. Flash will continue to be a mainstay of the desktop for a long time. We strongly believe that it isn’t quite ready to take over from Flash. Not all Flash functionality is replicated in the HTML5 specification and as it is still a work in progress, it might be some time before HTML5 is the definitive answer. We don’t doubt that in the long run that HTML5 (and its complementary technologies) will become Flash’s successor but we don’t believe that it will happen in the near future. Unfortunately many brands still do not have mobile optimised sites, and without a mobile site or a mobile browser with a Flash plugin, these brands will simply become inaccessible on the mobile platform. For these brands, this is bad news; more than $730bn will be spent via mobile devices annually by 2017, and we are seeing that transactions, which would previously have taken place on a laptop or a PC, are starting to take place on tablets instead. The end of mobile Flash may well be the spur for brands to ensure that they have suitable mobile presence – in the long run, they may not be able to afford not to.