Adobe ditches Flash mobile plans

Adobe Flash

Adobe today confirmed it is quitting development of Flash for mobile browsers, a day after it revealed 750 staff are to be asked to leave.

The software maker had been losing its battle with Apple over getting Flash on iOS device browsers.

The two were involved in a protracted war of words, with Apple claiming Flash was buggy and insecure. Adobe responded by lambasting Apple's 'walled garden' approach to the management of iOS.

Now it seems Adobe has given in. It will instead look at how to make money out of HTML5, as well as support developers in their mobile app efforts.

"We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook," Adobe said in an official statement.

"Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores."

Adobe has been relatively successful in helping provide platforms for iOS developers. For instance, Flash was used in the number one selling iPad game Machinarium. The company also recently released an HTML5 development tool called Edge.

What we think...

We suspect Adobe's decision has as much to do with manpower issues as it does with technology.

Maintaining active development on the Android and Playbook versions of Flash Player as well as a potential Windows Phone 7 version, alongside the Windows and Mac OS X players, has to be a drain on resources and developers which could be better spent elsewhere.

We wouldn't be surprised if Adobe minions were redeployed to work on Edge, the company's new HTML5 development tool a product that will directly bring in revenue unlike the free mobile Flash Players.

Alan Lu, Reviews Editor

"We are super excited about the next generations of HTML5 and Flash," the software maker added.

"We will design new features in Flash for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve so developers can confidently invest knowing their skills will continue to be leveraged."

Adobe even admitted Flash was not the top platform for web content anymore, describing HTML5 as "the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms."

Apple, who did not include Flash as default in Mac computers either, was not the only tech giant to flee from Adobe's platform. Microsoft recently distanced itself from it too, confirming Flash would not be included by default in Windows 8.

A major issue with Flash was the number of security flaws that hit the software. The latest version, Flash Player 11, was released in September.

Corporate restructuring

Adobe yesterday revealed restructuring plans, confirming around 750 full-time workers were to be let go in North America and Europe.

The job losses came as a result of Adobe's strategy realignment to focus on two core areas: Digital Media and Digital Marketing. The former relates to the developer-focused business, the latter to Adobe's plans to become a leader in "solutions to manage, measure and optimise digital marketing and advertising."

"Our mission is to produce the world's content and maximize the impact of that content," said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe president and CEO. "Adobe is doubling down in the Digital Media and Digital Marketing categories, markets rich with opportunities for innovation and grow."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.