Adobe confirmed it will no longer be developing mobile Flash on Wednesday, saying that HTML5 is the “best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms.” It’s a major turning point for mobile dynamic content and video delivery, but it’s a step that will specifically affect Apple products and Apple users in unique ways. Here’s how.
1. The “full web” has less power to hurt Apple
In the short term, Apple’s competitors will lose the ability to beat consumers about the brow with talk of the “full web” experience that comes with Flash-supporting mobile operating systems like QNX and Android. That’s a good thing for consumers on both sides of the divide, since even mobile Flash support on most devices except the most current, most high-end ones amounted to an unpleasant, laggy, stuttering experience. But the real winner is Apple, since one of the competition’s most distinguishing traits, which is often used to try to make Apple’s platform appear weak by comparison, has now been taken away.
Existing versions of mobile Flash will remain available for devices, but without support from Adobe itself, it’s hard to tout that as much of an ecosystem advantage. Especially when Adobe admits the superiority of, and will support efforts to improve HTML5 technology for cross-platform content.
2. More content coming to an iOS device near you
Now that there’s only one game in town, companies who operate websites have no option but to make their content compatible with the most popular portable devices. For mobile browsing, iOS is the most-used platform. Now, there’s no excuse to wait and watch: Even if Android does eventually win out and take the lion’s share of mobile visits, HTML5 will be the content delivery vehicle of choice.
Since Adobe will also be actively promoting HTML5 as a solution for mobile devices, there’s also no one trying to work against development efforts in that direction. In fact, Adobe will likely work with content provider partners who’d been hanging on to Flash to upgrade to solutions that can deal with both technologies, depending on whether a user is on mobile or the desktop, like Flash Media Server 4.5.
3. A Flash-less desktop future
Apple no longer ships Flash pre-installed on its Mac systems, and some users find that installing it themselves can negatively affect battery life and performance. The full version of Flash might be the next to fall, however, now that its mobile cousin is no more.
As Aral Balkan pointed out on Twitter, “No Flash Player for mobile platforms means don’t use Flash on websites, period.” The statement makes sense, since mobile access is becoming an increasingly important way that users come to web content. Mobile Internet is predicted to eclipse wireline access by 2015, and mobile browsing is already overtaking desktop browsing in some markets.
Live streaming is another area where Adobe is losing out to Apple. Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) is becoming a popular option for connected televisions, as well as the default tech of most streaming content providers. That’s just one more reason users will soon be able to do without Flash, no matter the platform.
Long story short, Adobe’s capitulation is great news for Apple, since it no longer has to fend off accusations of presenting a “limited” version of the web, and for Apple users, since content providers would actually have to actively go out of their way to make content that doesn’t work on iOS devices going forward. Even Adobe wins, since it no longer has to devout resources to bailing out a boat with way too many holes in its rusty hull.