Adobe announced this week that it would no longer be developing a Flash plugin for mobile browsers, prompting comments that Steve Jobs has had the last laugh. After all, the iPhone does not support Adobe Flash and Jobs was highly critical of its reliability, security and performance. Jobs’ essay, ‘Thoughts on Flash
’ is well worth a read for anyone who isn’t familiar with Apple’s arguments against the use of Flash on its devices.
The question we really should be asking is this – is Flash really dead on the mobile platform?
The answer is – not just yet. Although Adobe won’t be producing any further versions of its Flash plugin for mobile, there are still many devices out there which already support Flash. According to Adobe, more than 130 million Flash supporting smartphones will have shipped by the end of the year. They have also announced that they will continue to offer bug fixes and security updates for the current plugin.
We should also consider the large number of developers already using Flash and Adobe AIR to create native apps for the iOS, Android and BlackBerry. As one of the solutions for cross-platform developers to produce native apps across a number of mobile operating systems, the combination of Flash and AIR is likely to continue as it offers a simple way for desktop developers to transfer the Flash applications to the mobile platform.
So yes, over time, mobile devices will stop being able to access the latest Flash content and this will definitely have an effect on the use of Flash on the desktop and we will see a transition to the HTML5 stack. For now though, Flash in the browser and Flash developed mobile apps are here to stay.