Flash has been around for quite a while and the company behind it, Adobe, has been faithful in adapting it to emerging technologies. When tablets came into the scene, Adobe were on hand to develop and deploy Flash for tablets. When smartphones came along, it was the same deal. But things started going awry when Steve Jobs dissed Flash and opted to use HTML5 instead on Apple devices. Adobe of course did not feel the immediate effect because there were millions of other devices that were using Flash.
But it seems Adobe have finally felt the pinch of changing times as Flash has slowly began to slip into the back burner in terms of mobile development. One of the biggest reasons for this is the inherent difficulty Adobe have faced in trying to adapt something that was built for desktop browsing to mobile devices. Flash is typically a high bandwidth, high processing-speed technology and many smartphones simply do not have this sort of juice.
On the other hand, Adobe were stuck trying to create versions of mobile Flash player for all existing and emerging mobile operating systems and this became a headache they simply were not up to keeping up with. In a press release to their investors, Adobe said they would be “Shifting resources to support even greater investment in HTML5”. This does not come as a big surprise because most mobile tech companies, led by Apple, have been laying more emphasis on HTML5 as the technology of the future. This move by Adobe is seen as a way of insuring itself against the flood of technologies that are and shall emerge based on the HTML5 development framework.
Adobe is also trying to streamline its financials as leaner and more nimble technologies emerge and slowly eat into Adobe’s markets. Two recent moves, also mentioned in the press release, demonstrate this. First, Adobe will be cutting 750 jobs across its world wide operations. This move will help reduce operating costs as well as free up liquidity for investing in new and emerging technologies. One such investment is in the acquisition of Nitobi, the company behind PhoneGap, the HTML5 development platform.
One interesting thing to note however is that BlackBerry have opted to keep Flash Mobile alive on it’s BlackBerry phones. This makes sense because QNX, the RIM-owned company behind BlackBerry’s new OS BBX, seem to have made some heavy investments in making the upcoming OS Flash friendly and are not about to pull the plug on Flash.
Adobe have for a long time been known for their enterprise grade, and rather pricey software offerings but as with most other companies, the argument for open web development is a nagging reality that just won’t go away. If you cannot beat them, join them.