Nov 12 AT 1:15 AM Dustin Earley 38 Comments

Adobe product manager says Apple is one of the top reasons they abandoned Flash Player mobile


The end of development for Flash Player mobile has been a hot topic these past couple days. Adobe announced that HTML5 was the future of mobile media, and that the company needed to put their efforts into that and Air. But is that the only reason?

Adobe product manager Mike Chambers took to his personal blog today to lay out the reasoning behind the move away from Flash Player for mobile browsers. HTML5, Air and “differences in how users consume rich content on mobile devices compared to the desktop” were all cited as valid reasons, but the first thing Chambers mentions is the fact that Flash Player for mobile would never be as popular as Flash Player for desktops.

This one should be pretty apparent, but given the fragmentation of the mobile market, and the fact that one of the leading mobile platforms (Apple’s iOS) was not going to allow the Flash Player in the browser, the Flash Player was not on track to reach anywhere near the ubiquity of the Flash Player on desktops.

Just to be very clear on this: No matter what we did, the Flash Player was not going to be available on Apple’s iOS anytime in the foreseeable future.Mike Chambers

As you can see, Chambers also lists market fragmentation (different OS vendors, hardware manufacturers and component manufacturers) as a deciding factor in Adobe’s move, but Apple’s refusal to adopt Flash left Adobe in a tight spot. The amount of resources that go into development were overwhelming, and the demand for Flash on mobile devices was nowhere near that of desktops.

If Apple had allowed Flash to run on Safari mobile, would things have turned out differently? There’s a good chance they would have, but that’s all in the past now. Android’s browser is well suited for HTML5, and there’s still a recent version of Flash available to combat any short-term compatibility issues. Whatever the future holds, Flash or not, Android will be ready for it.

Via: Engadget

Source: Mike Chambers

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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    It’s totally cool that they switched to HTML5. My Android can run that too.

    • flashes to ashes

      We are all glad the flash plague and genocide is finally gone!!!!

  • 4n1m4l

    Flash is the reason a lot of people abandoned iOs …..

    • bumblepuppy

      I abandoned Flash on my N1, because it took up too much space and didn’t add my browsing experience. My company runs a mission-critical web-based app written in AIR. It wasn’t useable on the phone.

  • Jack

    That’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it?

    Apple was right, after all, but I think they were a little less than a decade early in that infamous decision. HTML5 does some awesome things now, but until the video codec thing gets figured out Flash still has a place in today’s web (besides Farmville and Kongregate, of course…).

    This is actually kind of a blow to Android, though. Not having Flash is often a primary reason people look beyond the iPad.

    • Phil

      Luckily the OnLive browser will be coming soon and will of course have flash and run it better than any phone or tablet could.

  • Phil

    Yup, apple can screw you even when you don’t buy their products.

  • Legend

    Just need chrome for android to take full advantage of HTML5 *hint hint google*

  • Andrew

    This is not only the end of Flash, this is the end of all browser’s plug-ins.
    In one hand it’s a goog thing but in the other hand there will be tons of old contents that will become unavailable: that’s content fragmentation because the entire Web will not be updated to be HTML5 compatible!!!

  • Dr.Carpy

    This is what makes me hate Apple. Just more of them “lording” what influence they have to malign a company that didn’t line up with what they want them to do. Apple being evil, is like dog bites man. Something like this lines up with Apples lack of character. They’re a terrible corporate citizen,and this renews my zeal to never own a product that they make.

  • Phil

    ….looks at mobile OS market share…..looks at mobile OS market share trends….laughs at dumb move.

    I’m trying to figure out why some people ignore all the data at hand and still think Apple is going to have some significant market share. Within the next couple of years it will be just as safe to ignore iOS as it is OS X.

    • iphone is much better

      android is for homo.sexuals

      • muadhnate

        Actually, most of the gay people I know have iphones. But that’s beyond the point…

  • Messiah was right

    Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe’s founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer, adopting their Postscript language for our new Laserwriter printer. Apple invested in Adobe and owned around 20% of the company for many years. The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products. Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers — Mac users buy around half of Adobe’s Creative Suite products — but beyond that there are few joint interests.

    I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. 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. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.

    First, there’s “Open”.

    Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

    Apple has many proprietary products too. Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript — all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

    Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.

    Second, there’s the “full web”.

    Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.

    Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.

    Third, there’s reliability, security and performance.

    Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.

    In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?

    Fourth, there’s battery life.

    To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 — an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

    Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

    When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

    Fifth, there’s Touch.

    Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

    Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.

    Sixth, the most important reason.

    Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.

    We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

    This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.

    Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.

    Our motivation is simple — we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins — we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.


    Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.

    The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

    New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

    Steve Jobs

    • Brandon Peters

      Dear Messiah:

      Do you want to tell me why Skyfire was allowed to be placed in the “App Store” and why it had to be pulled 5 hours after release

      patiently awaiting your answer, LOL…

      • muadhnate

        Doesn’t skyfire allow you to play flash video?

      • ablkida

        You actually read all that?? hahaha

    • david

      All valid technical reasons, except that it’s Steve jobs saying what i can and what i can’t do with MY device. What kind of content I can or cannot view on MY device. Everyone knows flash sucks, but it’s a thing called choice, something that people with soul of dictators will never understand…

      Steve jobs was the kind of guy who looked at you amazed on how someone could have a choice different from his own. I mean, how do we dare? Are we stupid in need for a “great leader” to guide us and judge on our behalf? We know how that works out in this world…

      In my professional area (law) there is a bunch of people like this, so i know how that works.

      • droidboy

        til now, iphone still cant even support live wallpaper…which sums it all
        whether it drains battery or not, thats another question

    • Andrew

      You don’t know what you are talking about, your words are full of mistakes.

    • counsel

      …and the gulf war is ALL about freedom for those in Iraq and Afghanistan… of course, we don’t provide freedom for those in Palestine, Syria, etc… perhaps oil had SONETHING to do with the decision making…

      Flash works well on my PHONE. Perhaps those who can’t use it don’t know why it does work… I use my wife’s phone and wonder how everyone does without it… drink the kool-aid!

      It isn’t just about delivering video… why adobe doesn’t market is a huge corporate blunder!

      What matters in today’s world is what the uneducated masses think and want. If nothing else, that should scare you. Companies that continue such practices don’t get my dollar.

      Bite that MacIntosh ;)

    • kazahani

      That was the epitome of tl;dr. I’m just going to keep on thinking that Apple is stupid.

    • muadhnate

      Flash is closed:

      Actually there are a number of programs that I can use that allow me to create flash content.
      Adobe has the better product, but I don’t see how Apple can throw stones from their own closed glass house

      All the apps in the world will not replace the full flash experience. Youtube’s app is crap at best. Not all videos are available becuase you can’t play flash.

      Show me anything that is remotely secure when it comes to the web? Hackers will always find and in. Flash is in the same ship as Windows, when you dominate the market, it’s more efficient for me to attack via those routes since I’m more likely to get a hit. Flash is the number one reason macs crash- seems like a problem with Macs because Windows and Linux works just fine.
      It seems that Apple refuses to adapt themselves to other people and instead prefer to force others to do things their way. Funny for a company with a tagline of “think different”

      Battery life
      And here I thought dual core processors, 3g, wi-fi, bluetooth, and background programs had more to do with battery life than video. There’s no phone on earth with 10 hours of video playback. You’re delusional. I managed to get through 3-4 hours of video on my iphone with a full battery. By the way batteries never hold the same charge they did when first used. It’s impossible.

      3rd party:

      “We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.”

      Just a nicer way of saying that “If you don’t do it my way, then screw you! Yeah we know you want access to all of the cool flash effects, but we hate flash therefore: Screw you! Do it our way or no way at all. We decide what you have access to. And you sheeple blindly believe that we are doing it for your safety. This is why we hate Android and Flash. They are actually open. They actually give people choices.”

      I mean it would be fine with me if they would just acknowledge this reality but the fact that they actually believe this nonsense is what makes me puke. I mean who honestly believes that Adobe wouldn’t keep up to date? It’s funny that you don’t want to be dependent on 3rd party developers to tell you what you have access to, but are more than willing to be dependent on Apple.

  • Nathan

    Dam apple, always screw up everything for Android.

  • Kalango

    A bold action would be Adobe stop making Flash Player for MACOs instead.

  • counsel

    I gueballS would abandon word if apple decided to not play ball. Tylenol should just give up if advil won’t use tylenol in 40% of the hospitals…

    Why not show what flash can do well that html5 can not do at all?

    I think adobe is like applethe first time jobs left…floundering rather than directing (get it?) Their own future and product line?

    • muadhnate

      Yeah it seems like they would focus on making a flash friendly web browser vs just dropping it all together. HTML5 sites are nice, but can not compare to the things that flash is capable of.

  • Counsel

    For instance :)

    10 things HTML5 can’t do that flash does well:

  • Mark

    Adobe Product Manager Mike Chambers said their top reason was because of Apple not supporting it. That doesn’t make any sense considering, Android has a far more larger user base and tons of people switched over from iOS purely because of flash. F*ck Adobe and their sh*t product.

  • chris

    Flash never ran that well on android phones anyway. Good they are going to html5 and now more will move away from flash.

    • EngineerGA

      Flash works great on my Droid Incredible. There are some apps I use that I am pretty sure will NOT be ported to HTML5. Unless I can start a petition to have Bank of America create an HTML5-based “ShopSafe” app, I won’t be able to use it on my phone if they migrate it to the next Flash. They inherited it from MBNA when they bought them out, and it seems to be a bit of a red-headed stepchild to them (as evidenced any time I call for support issues and their CS people know little to nothing about it). Anyway, I digress…

      My point is that Adobe will continue making desktop Flash, and people who use Flash now will continue using it. Mobile devices will be left in the cold… well, except for those that have their own Flash Player like the QNX one that BlackBerry Playbooks use. QNX licenses the Adobe source and rolls their own, and they have publicly stated they will continue to do so. They have also said the BBX phones that are coming in 2012 will have this same homebrewed Flash Player app. Want Flash support on your phone in 2012 – the next version of Flash that Android can’t support? Get a BlackBerry. I expect a surge in market share for RIM unless Google steps up and licenses the Flash source and makes their own player for Android. I literally bought my Droid Incredible rather than another BlackBerry because it had Flash support and BBs did not (and still do not). There are many others like me.

  • matb321

    Flash works great on my vibrant.Flash is the biggest reason i gave up on apple and stuck with andtoid.and im glad i did.

  • muadhnate

    Eh, who knows. Maybe with Adobe focusing on HTML5 it’ll actually become cool. They may add things to it. We’ll see.

  • McLovin

    Will this affect those that choose to run their browsers in desktop agent mode? I prefer to see things on my phone the exact same way they appear on my desktop. Those brain dead mobile agent apps and limited browsing modes suck.

    • Ramshambo2001

      Bah, I know what you mean. I laughed at my friend when he was browsing Gizmodo’s mobile site when the iPad came out. Just a series of links. I was like “The future of the internet sure looks a like an old text based boring internet to me!”.

  • charliethesuperturtle

    There sad apple didn’t want iflash
    Rip flash

  • Ramshambo2001

    Content providers blocking the use of their sites by android didn’t help either.

  • pritams