Adobe Lost the Mobile Flash Battle With Apple: 10 Reasons Why

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-11-09 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

News Analysis: Adobe has decided to ditch Flash Player for mobile browser applications and, in the process, has lost its prolonged and bitter battle with Apple over this Web application development platform.

When Apple shipped the first iPhone in 2007, it became clear that the future of the space would be dominated by Apple. Many consumers who wanted to own an iPhone were just fine by that. But there were a host of companies that weren't so pleased to see Apple try to impose its will on the industry. Chief among those companies was Adobe.

Over the last several years, Apple and Adobe have been engaged in a bitter battle in the mobile space over whether or not Flash should be supported in iOS. Apple has argued it shouldn't, since it can cause security issues and because Flash can be replaced with better technologies, such as HTML5. Adobe, on the other hand, has argued that the popularity of Flash, both in online video and games, makes it a necessity.

But now, years later, Adobe has finally capitulated. The company announced on Nov. 9 that it will no longer offer Flash Player for mobile devices and will instead work with other companies to improve HTML5. Adobe's surrender was, as much as the company might not want to admit it, surprising but inevitable.

Read on to find out why:

1. First and foremost, Apple's resistance

If it weren't for Apple, Adobe would have never been forced to discontinue Flash Player for mobile browsers. Apple is a major agent of change in the mobile space, and it has the unique ability to determine just about any product's fate. It proved that once again with Adobe.

2. Major iPhone, iPad adoption

Although Apple wasn't too keen on Flash, it wouldn't have mattered all that much if the iPhone and iPad were failures. But over the last several years, as millions of iOS-based devices were sold, Adobe's chances of making Flash relevant in the mobile space continued to decline. Flash's death in the mobile market can be directly attributed to the success of the iPhone and iPad.

3. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was able to impact the decision-making of competitors when he was running Apple. After he wrote an open letter about Flash on his company's Website, the battle lines were drawn and he effectively made it clear that if application developers wanted to be successful in Apple's mobile space, they needed to follow Apple's lead. And that meant turning their backs on Flash.

4. Other smartphone makers followed suit

It's significant that after Apple took its stand, other smartphone makers and mobile OS providers balked at the idea of supporting Flash. Many companies viewed HTML5 as a better option and decided to follow Apple's example rather than try their luck with Flash. Sure, Android supported Flash, but by then, it was too late. And every stakeholder knew it.



 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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