Update: Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) how now posted an item on its own blog confirming that it will stop developing Flash for mobile devices, and will instead concentrate on apps using Adobe Air and HTML5. It will continue to support Flash for PC browsing, it said. Original post below.
Widely debated, and now settled for good: Adobe is preparing to announce that it is canning its work on mobile versions of Flash, a popular plug-in used for video and audio web content.
While the company has not confirmed the reports, yesterday it issued two statements on its site noting that 750 staff would be cut as part of a restructuring program.
The news was first reported by ZDNet, which copied what it says will be the official statement that Adobe plans to release — probably today, now that the cat’s been let out of the bag:
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. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.
ZDNet also included a summary of what the company plans to send to its partners further explaining the move to stop development on Flash Player for mobile browsers. It says that Adobe will now focus development efforts on apps, “expressive content” for the mobile desktop, and HTML5.
The news is a belated victory for the late Steve Jobs, who as CEO of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) was unequivocal in his criticism of Flash and why it was not supported on Apple’s iOS mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
“Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven — they say we want to protect our App Store — but in reality it is based on technology issues,” Jobs wrote in an open letter on Apple’s site that gave a line-by-line explanation of why it is that Apple hated Flash so.
Those reasons included performance issues — Flash is one of the main reasons for crashes on Mac computers, he noted — but also criticism of Adobe owning a closed platform would not be optimized for Apple products.
Adobe had long argued that Flash needed to be on all mobile devices, including Apple’s, because of its ubiquity on the web. But the weight of content that has either been optimized for iOS, Android and the rest in the form of apps, or through other web technologies like HTML5, has made Adobe’s claims sound hollow.
It wasn’t all about Apple versus Adobe, of course: Flash currently works on Android devices and RIM’s PlayBook — devices that Adobe says it will continue to support.
We have contacted Adobe for comment and confirmation, but there is actually already some indirect admission of what is to come on the site already.
Yesterday the company posted two documents, giving a business update with some top-line guidance for Q4, which ends December 2, as well as an outline of its growth strategy.
Central to this will be the cutting of 750 jobs in North America And Europe as part of a restructuring that is expected to result in a charge of $87 million to $94 million for Adobe.
From the looks of it, neither mention mobile Flash by name, and shift the focus elsewhere. The two goals in mobile will be as follows:
» Shifting resources to support even greater investment in HTML5, through tools like Adobe® Dreamweaver, Adobe Edge and PhoneGap, recently added through the acquisition of Nitobi
» Focusing Flash resources on delivering the most advanced PC web experiences, including gaming and premium video, as well as mobile apps
Adobe will be having a call later today to discuss this in more detail — Flash required to participate, of course. We’ll be on that call later to hear what more Adobe has to say.