Jul 2, 2012
We can finally say that mobile Flash is dead, as Adobe says that Jelly Bean will officially not support Flash. Now, we’ve known that Adobe had designs on killing mobile Flash for a while now, with limited support for Ice Cream Sandwich, but it is pretty much dead for real now. Of course, Flash on mobile was basically killed by the fact that it was basically forced into obsolescence by Apple not including it in iOS. If iOS was unsuccessful, then Flash on mobile would be a bigger issue.
But, gaming as native apps took off in a huge way. And those who deliver mobile video essentially had to hop on to HTML5 playback for mobile â€“ which Android could latch on to thanks to a similar WebKit foundation and because MPEG-4 has taken hold as a standardized set of codecs. So, mobile Flash wasn’t exactly filling many needs, and the gap was steadily shrinking over time. It got pushed into obsolescence on mobile. With the rise of mobile, and the spread on to bigger screens, this may not bode well for Flash as a whole â€“ if they’re not relevant on mobile, then will they be relevant in the long-term? Adobe has talked about shifting their product feature set to a series of HTML5 tools over time, and it may be the key to Adobe’s survival, if not Flash.
Of course, gaming may yet be the life-support system that Flash runs on. It’s still multi-platform, and many of the web-based free-to-play games rely on it. But where it was once ubiquitious, the day where it becomes a niche piece of software is sooner than ever before. Adobe Air is helping to power some mobile ports of games as well.
Does this have an impact on the influence of Android? After all, if Android couldn’t keep Flash alive, then what does it say about the platform as a whole? Well, I think that it was killed as much by the fact that it became a moot point instead of that Android couldn’t support it, though the fact that it was supported on Froyo and higher, when Android update rates are slow enough as it is, may have harmed its adoption. But political and favorable technological circumstances were the biggest dictator of HTML5 winning out, more so than anything Google and Android could have necessarily done.