Adobe Ceases Development of Mobile Flash in Favor of HTML5

By Wesley Fenlon

HTML5 wins, in the end, as Adobe acknowledges that the standard is better for video playback on the web. Mobile Flash development closes up shop after the next release.

Today marks the beginning of the end for Adobe Flash. Adobe has announced that it plans to discontinue Flash for mobile devices after the release of 11.1 because HTML5 is, quite simply, better. The promised Flash experience for mobile never matured beyond half-baked video playback, and Apple's refusal to adopt the format has pushed Adobe into acknowledging HTML5 as the future of video and interactive design on the web.

Two major changes are in store for Flash going forward. On the mobile side, Adobe will focus on AIR as a packaging solution for mobile app developers, while on desktop systems Flash development will keep on trucking. For now, anyway--after admitting HTML5 is the superior experience, Adobe may be refocusing its desktop development towards games rather than video.

Adobe's latest work with Flash 11 introduced 3D graphics hardware acceleration, and there are developers who will continue to make games in Flash. After all, the platform has been around for years--it's an easy way for indie developers to get started. One of Super Meat Boy's developers recently released a deep Flash game of his own in The Binding of Isaac. But as we've written before, Quake II has been ported to run in HTML5--it's only a matter of time until HTML5 takes over gaming, too. This is the beginning of the end for Flash: once mobile development is dead for good, PC development will inevitably follow.

At least Adobe's smart enough to recognize that:

We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the W3C and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible, just as we have done with CSS Shaders. And, 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.

This is a bittersweet end for Android owners who bought phones and tablets for Flash support, but it's better that Adobe admit mobile Flash was a failure now than continue to hold onto the format for another year or two. Bring on the HTML5.

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