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Making Lemonade: Adobe Abandons Flash on Mobile Devices, Will Pursue HTML 5 Instead

Adobe this week announced a major capitulation in its strategy for promoting Flash, saying that it will now focus on aggressively contributing to HTML 5 instead. The Apple-obsessed press has routinely described this move as a "vindication" for former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who infamously railed against Flash performance and stability and refused to allow the technology on his company's iOS-based products. But really, this is just an overdue, pragmatic move for Adobe, given how the market is changing.

"HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively," the announcement reads. "This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers."

Aside from the curious inclusion of RIM in that list--I'm pretty sure RIM isn't driving anything these days, aside from itself into the ground--this type of "making lemonade" in the face of a strategy failure just makes sense. Flash was necessary a decade ago because the web was in its infancy and didn't have the layout and presentation capabilities needed to create professional-looking web sites and apps. But today, HTML 5 provides these capabilities, and it works everywhere. Flash is superfluous.

Of course, there are thousands of Flash developers out there, so Adobe isn't just stepping off a cliff. So while the company will discontinue Flash Player for mobile devices, it will continue its use of Flash in Adobe AIR, which can be packaged in native apps for most leading mobile platforms. And Adobe has been working on a cross-platform version of its Flash developer tools that can implement web apps (and mobile apps?) as Flash or HTML 5. And Flash isn't going anywhere on the desktop browsers ... yet.

"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," the announcement notes. "Together HTML5 and Flash offer developers and content publishers great options for delivering compelling web and application experiences across PCs and devices."

Eventually, that will just be HTML 5, I bet.

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