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.
Big Players Supported HTML5 Over Flash
5. Adobe’s desire to advance Web standards
Although it’s easy to say that Adobe was forced into this decision, it’s worth noting that the company has also been trying to advance Web standards as of late. In fact, as it pointed out in its announcement on Flash, it looks forward to helping improve HTML5. While Adobe once tried to lock people into its Web standards, it now realizes that advancing other solutions is the best move right now.
6. The threat of security woes
As Jobs pointed out in his open letter on Flash,the platform is one of the leading security threats on the desktop. In fact, many of the threats Windows users contend with come in via Flash. With that in mind, it’s quite possible Adobe didn’t want to field fresh complaints over possible security threats that could arise in the mobile space because of Flash. Improving the security of mobile devices and applications is an important goal in the market these days. Adobe didn’t want to be seen as contributing to the problems.
7. The big players want HTML5
When one looks at the companies that support HTML5, it’s no wonder Adobe lost its mobile battle. Apple, Microsoft, Google, RIM and other companies are trying to advance HTML5, while those companies that actually want to support Flash are few and far between. The big players want HTML5, and that is where the mobile market is going to move.
8. Customers didn’t care
When Apple made it clear it was never bringing Flash to the iPad or iPhone, Adobe thought for sure that customers would complain and force Apple to change its stance. But now years later, it’s clear that they didn’t care that much one way or another. They just wanted their mobile devices to work reliably no matter what underlying technology kept them connected.
9. Developers worked around it
As Web developers started realizing that Apple wasn’t going to budge on Flash, they started supporting HTML5 in record numbers. At first, many Websites that users surfed to on the iPhone were inaccessible. But nowadays, it’s harder than ever to find Flash-only sites on the iPhone. Once Web developers moved to HTML5, Adobe had no other choice but pull back from its support of Flash on the Web.
10. Shareholders revolt
Examination of Adobe’s financial statements reveals a company that’s generating billions of dollars in revenue every year and scoring sizable profits. However, what’s less apparent is that shareholders have grown increasingly concerned with Adobe’s decision-making and have called on the company to start making some changes. Ditching Flash for mobile is one of the key parts of that.