In April, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained in detail why consumers aren't going to see Flash support on the iPhone and iPad. Long story short: Adobe Flash "is no longer necessary." Although Apple's lack of support for Flash is often cited as an iPhone/iPad drawback, Flash certainly isn't going to win a whole lot of popularity contests either. But the question remains: is there a place for Flash in the mobile market?

We may soon have an answer.

Yesterday, Flash 10.1 made its full debut on Android 2.2, the latest version of Google's popular mobile OS. Not surprisingly, Google's Andy Rubin sees the full launch of Flash on Android as a big thing:

We are excited that Android is the first mobile platform to support the full Flash Player. Now mobile users can browse the full web on their smart phones, and Android developers can use industry-leading tools to create immersive experiences on the web.

But Google won't have Flash all to itself for long. According to Adobe's press release, Flash 10.1 has also been released to other mobile partners and will soon make its way onto BlackBerry, webOS, Windows Phone, LiMo, MeeGo and Symbian OS devices as well. Some of these devices, of course, will not be mobile phones -- they'll be tablets. If Flash isn't dead and consumers truly want Flash on their mobiles and tablets, the release of Flash 10.1 will ensure that they have no reason to complain. After all, Apple's devices may never support Flash, but plenty of competing devices will.

Obviously, as Flash gets bundled with new devices, Adobe will carve out a large install base that it can boast about. But the real question is how important Flash will really be in the mobile world. Apple has reportedly already 3m iPads and received hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for the newest iPhone on launch day. Right now, it's hard to imagine that a significant number of consumers will choose to avoid Apple devices simply because they don't have Flash.

So has Adobe already lost the war? At the end of the day, Flash's success in the mobile market will be based on the actions of businesses and developers. If enough of them continue to abandon Flash, the presence of Flash on a device won't be a very convincing selling point long-term since compelling Flash content and applications would be harder to find.

From this perspective, Adobe's challenge is just beginning. Getting Flash onto a significant number of mobile and tablet devices will be the easy part; getting creators to stick by Flash and make it meaningful in the mobile environment is going to be much, much tougher.

Photo credit: midiman via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 June, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)



I am pretty sure we will end up developing with Flash ONLY when it can't be done in HTML5 / CSS3.

So I guess the questions will become, what can Flash do that HTML5 can't? Are Adobe going to introduce new tools and features to push the technology AND how much faster is it to develop on Flash rather than HTML5.

about 8 years ago


John Dowdell

<em>" But the real question is how important Flash will really be in the mobile world."</em>

It doesn't seem like the need for a predictable high-performance cross-browser, cross-OS, cross-device rendering engine with advanced capabilities willl all go away any time soon.... ;-)

I'd encourage you to talk with more content producers, particularly those who produce highly-valued content. They want to meet their audiences, wherever they may be. And Adobe is focused on publishing solutions that help those creators meet their audiences.


about 8 years ago


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

I've always had a love hate relationship with Flash.

When trying to run meaningful User Journeys for web monitoring a site, flash applications can make that a challenge. So much so, that many sites I know simply don't monitor 24/7 anything on their site using flash! They are in the dark.

So HTML 5 makes the scripting of user journeys easier.

But at the same time, I have tested some web apps that are really clever uses of flash, and offered features that at the time couldn't be done any other way.

But anyway - won't some clever hackers out there one day soon be able to get Flash running on iPhones, despite Apple's intentions: some people do feel genuinely annoyed when they buy some hardware, and the manufacturer wants to arbitrarily prevent them 'using it the way I want to use it'.

Witness Sony's decision to change code to prevent users running Linux on their PlayStations - isn't there a court case planned?

about 8 years ago

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