Today Adobe has published a pressrelease in which they announce to stop the development for Flash in mobile browsers. And again, these discussions start all over again. Was Steve Jobs right? Will Flash now completely die? Has HTML5 finally won?
For me, Adobe‘s decision is completely right. Because: What was the benefit of Flash being displayed in mobile browsers? Every Flash in the WWW was optimized for mouse input and desktop performance. Only a few Flash developers on earth did change their Flash movies or – which is standard for HTML elements already – provide a mobile version of it. Personally, I’ve never seen any embedded Flash which was optimized for my mobile browser – they’re most likely simply scaled down and in most cases ran poorly. Besides I feel like half of them are ads and 30% are animations no one needs. Complex web apps still needed a lot of optimization for mobile devices. And if you’re going for that way, why not do it right and use the benefits of Adobe AIR and it’s mobile packagers?
The decision reflects the reality that the kind of highly-interactive content people build with Flash, games being a great example, are much-better suited to run as mobile apps. Also there is the fact that Flash is not nearly as ubiquitous on mobile browsers as it is on the desktop.
At the end of the day I’ve deinstalled the mobile Flash plugin on my Android as I simply didn’t need it and all the unnessesary flash movies were causing extra traffic and performance. If the site does not provide any good fallback variants for no-flash devices, what’s the point of being barrier-free these days? If you want to deliver your browser-content to a broad variety of devices – seriously, would you ever have gone for Flash to block out all iOS devices?
And here comes Steve Jobs into play. With his “We will not allow Flash to be displayed in our browsers” he set the course for every webdeveloper to think of good fallback variants, as iPads probably will display the rest of the page all fine. This decision might have been a weird one some months ago but now leads to a seamless transition into non-mobile Flash Players as most pages already have these alternative contents which work everywhere. And – this – is – fine! Thank you, Steve.
However, I’m a Flash Dev 24/7 and I do love it. For me, Flash remains being an outstanding platform and this “loss” is more a win, as Adobe now can investigate in Adobe AIR and their HTML5 dev without fighting all these mobile browser discussions. And if we’re taking a glance at the future, we can all be happy with that. Adobe AIR is becoming more and more awesome and I love every single project in which we’re able to use it.
When it comes down to a complex webapp: I use Flash. When the client then wants to use this app on his iOS device or Android: I use Adobe AIR. If a client wants a game, multi platform e.g.: I use Adobe AIR. Of course it will never (most likely) compete with native applications but there are a lots of situations where it simply makes sense to use Adobe AIR. And in addition with Native Extensions the remaining no-go-situations will decrease as well.
To sum it: Flash Mobile died. So what? I totally agree with Grant Skinner, saying:
If this decision allows Adobe to focus on increasing innovation in the desktop player, significantly improving their app packagers, and investing heavily in HTML5 tooling, it’s got my vote.
Besides I’m really looking forward to some awesome performance boosts with Stage3D. If this is how a dying platform looks like, I’d love to follow it straight to hell:
- Adobe MAX: Unreal Engine 3 a Flash Player 11
- Console Quality 2D and 3D Games with Stage 3D Hardware Acceleration
Have a nice day and don’t get lost in too many discussions.