Adobe Cripples Flash

by Matt Klassen on November 10, 2011

It was just shy of two years ago when Apple first sparked the Flash Wars, making changes to its developer agreement that saw the door closed to Adobe’s popular Flash multimedia platform on all Apple mobile devices. It was a move that polarized the mobile world, with one side predicting the demise of the archaic Flash, while the other side cried foul in regards to Apple’s strong-arm market tactics regarding the ubiquitous video player.

Since then the war has quietly slipped into the background, as ongoing feuds are want to do, but yesterday it all came storming back to the forefront as it was revealed that Adobe has essentially crippled its once popular multimedia platform.

In an announcement that came as a surprise to most in the mobile market, Adobe confirmed yesterday that it has ceased production on its Flash Player plug-in for mobile devices, effectively withdrawing itself from the new frontier of mobile browsing and streaming video. But the question remains, can Flash live on PC alone?

The decision to cancel the development of its Flash Player mobile plug-in could not have been an easy one for Adobe, as its clear to most that the future of the Internet lies in mobile devices. Further, the company had exhaustively dedicated resources to developing its Flash software for mobile platforms, promising, as CNET writer Stephen Shankland explains, “To help programmers create software that spans many different computing devices.”

Upon closer inspection, however, perhaps the decision to scuttle mobile Flash should not be so surprising, as clearly Adobe was struggling to make inroads in the mobile market. Admittedly not entirely its fault, it seems to me that Flash simply isn’t as popular as the comprehensive technological lifestyle that Apple sells through its cadre of popular mobile devices. To the point, Adobe’s Flash platform did find a home in the mobile market, particularly in the tablet market, on Android-based tablets that have all, to date, been spectacular failures when pitted against the iPad.

Further, Apple’s pervasive popularity in the mobile computing markets certainly didn’t do Adobe any favours. As Shankland writes, “By banning Flash on the browser responsible for 62 percent of mobile Web usage, Apple effectively exercised third-party veto power over Adobe’s ambitions.”

The question remains, can Adobe’s Flash continue to exist, continue to prosper, in an exclusive PC environment or has Adobe effectively signed Flash’s death warrant? As is often the case with paradigm shifts in technology, things are often overstated, and it’s no different when it comes to the emerging mobile web market. While there’s no question that mobile web usage is growing, 94.2 percent of all web access is still done with a personal computer, and Flash still dominates that medium.

In my mind however, regardless of the current state of web usage statistics, regardless of the current web domination by the personal computer, and regardless of the continued use of Flash on that technological medium, mobile technology is the wave of the future, meaning that Flash’s execution may have be stayed, but it still remains an inevitability.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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