While Adobe’s decision to end support for Flash mobile came as a surprise to many industry pundits, for Adobe APAC open web evangelist, Paul Burnett, it basically came down to refocusing on how content is presented.
“It’s become very clear over the last few years that the way people consume content on mobile devices differs from the way that they consume on the desktop, especially in regards to web content,” he said.
Adobe found that users with mobile devices such as smartphone and tablets are mostly consuming rich and interactive content through applications, while browsers are typically used to access quick and ready information.
“The amount of work and effort we put into getting the Flash player across the whole range of different platforms, browsers and chipsets on mobile devices really didn’t solve much for the end user,” Burnett admitted.
Adobe recognised that apps are driving content consumption on mobile devices, so the company made the decision to refocus its attention on how it would capitalise on the space.
Burnett also highlighted how HTML 5 has “matured in the last couple of years,” especially on smartphone and tablets, as another driver for Adobe’s decision on Flash mobile.
Despite being the de-facto interactive media solution on desktop PCs, Flash mobile never really set the smartphone world on fire quite in the same way its desktop iteration did.
“Things such as games and videos are popular on PC, but on smartphones people look for that type of content in applications and not necessarily in the browser itself,” Burnett explained.
Burnett dismissed the notion that Apple, more precisely the late Steve Jobs’, vocal opposition to Flash mobile had an effect on the platform’s fate, as well users’ perceived concerns about performance issues.
“We saw some great performance in Flash on Android and BlackBerry Playbook, as well as a lot of positive feedback, but we just found that it’s not really the sort of content that people were accessing on those devices,” he said.
With apps becoming incredibly popular across smartphones and tablets, it is an area that Adobe has already seen a significant uptake of its technology.
“Users have the ability to build an application once using Flash and using Air to publish it across various mobile platforms, and that’s where we’re moving our focus to,” Burnett said.
Adobe’s Edge standard had already incorporated HTML 5 before the announcement about Flash mobile’s end, so the company has shown interest in the HTML 5 standard despite heavy investment into its own proprietary platform.
As an example, Burnett highlighted that its Dreamweaver suite has had full support for HTML 5 and CSS 3 development since an update was issued for the CS5 edition and it was built into CS5.5, making Dreamweaver the “first, fully featured web editor” to support HTML 5. “The reasoning behind the decision [to discontinue flash mobile] was really to focus on what would make the most difference for our designers and developers,” he explained.
“Our attitude is that we want to enable people to build for every platform and not worry about browser compatibility, so we take a platform agnostic approach to enable the development community to express themselves irrespective of the platform.”
While the Flash mobile announcement may have shaken the public’s confidence in the platform, Burnett reassures that Adobe is fully committed to the continued growth of Flash.
“It is not as if we just canned Flash for mobile completely, as we’re actually taking those resources and putting them into increasing our focus on Flash on the desktop and Air applications across all devices,” he explained.
To highlight Adobe’s efforts in desktop space, Burnett pointed out that Adobe recently made several big announcements at this year’s Adobe MAX event with some gaming partners, who have moved their technology across to the Flash platform.
“Gaming is an area where we see an increased effort on the desktop, as well as premium video,” he said.