Why Adobe’s killing mobile Flash probably won’t affect you

If former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had lived just another month or so–he passed in early October–you can bet he’d be smiling right now–and possibly even fist pumping a la Jersey Shore.

That’s because software company Adobe today announced plans tokill mobile Flash development, and, in essence, admitted that Mr. Jobswas right all along in his assertions that Flash was an unnecessarycomponent in the mobile browser. Jobs insisted that Flash was simply apoorly architected, proprietary resource hog, and that mobileapplications built with technologies like HTML 5 would be the future ofthe mobile Web. As such, Apple’s mobile Safari browser–found on itsvarious iOS devices, including the iPhone, iPod and iPad–has never supported Flash.

And today, Mr. Jobs is looking even more likethe visionary so many pundits have made him out to be in the many blogposts, feature stories, videos and even full length biographiespublished since his death.

So, you ask, what exactly does this mean for current smartphone andtablet users?

Right now, not all that much, honestly. Apple users shouldn’t see anyimmediate changes, since iOS never used Flash to begin with. AndBlackBerry and Android users with Flash devices will be able tocontinue using their Flash-compatible applications and services with noneed to worry about future security implications, etc. Adobe will”continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates forexisting device configurations,” accordingto a post on an Adobe blog.

Google, RIM still support Flash
The big news here is that Adobe, and the various companies that decidedto support mobile Flash, including Google and BlackBerry-maker ResearchIn Motion (RIM), and their crops of mobile developers, could be lookingat fairly significant development strategy shifts. And, one couldargue, that these companies have wasted a lot of time and resources oninitiatives that now seem not long for this world–at a time whencompetition with Apple is stiff, to say the least.

Both RIM and Google have also presented Flash support as a competitiveadvantage when comparing some of their Flash-compatible products,including the BlackBerry PlayBook and various Android tablets, toApple’s wares. And now, though the products still offer functionalitythat continues to be unavailable to iOS users, Flash support reallyisn’t going to convince potential buyers to pick up a PlayBook orAndroid slate over and iPad in the future. Or it shouldn’t.

Adobe now says that its Adobe AIR technology and HTML 5 are the future of mobileWeb development.

On the other hand, RIM offers HTML 5 development tools to BlackBerrydevelopers via its BlackBerry WebWorks toolkit. In fact, RIM’s brandnew developer guru has really been pushing HTML 5 to devs–so existingRIM developers working on future projects should have the right toolsin place to move forward. Unfortunately, mobile developers with ongoingFlash-related efforts may now be inclined to scrap those products forones that seem more viable in the long run.

In other words, the folks who will likely feel the most significanteffects of this news are the developers who are (or were) currentlyworking on mobile Flash initiatives. (And then there are those 750or so Adobe employees who will lose their jobs due to anupcoming restructuring, which may or may not be related to the decisionto drop mobile Flash.) And that’s unfortunate, especially since Adobeargued so vehemently for Flash over the past few years.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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