Adobe Axes Mobile Flash in Favor of Rival HTML5
Adobe confirmed today that it is no longer adapting its Flash Player to newer mobile devices, instead guiding developers to package native apps with Adobe Air or build cross-platform applications in HTML5.
The move indicates just how badly Apple’s ban of Flash hurt Adobe in terms of getting traction with mobile developers. Apple frequently called out the inefficiency of the Flash platform on mobile devices, most recently in an April 2011 blog post from the late Steve Jobs. A ZDNet report came out last night, breaking news of Adobe’s decision.
There were a handful of apps (e.g. iSwifter) that could more or less convert or run Flash apps on iOS devices, but this doesn’t seem to have been a long-term solution for most game developers looking to take their Flash-based games cross-platform. This leaves Flash-loyal game developers with two options: write native apps for each mobile device, or explore alternatives that can produce a single product that runs on various devices.
With a big push from industry giants like Google and Facebook, HTML5 has emerged as an alternative to writing native applications, despite frame-rate issues that present challenges for game developers. Facebook recently launched its own mobile platform with support for HTML5 games from a test pool of established mobile and social game developers.
A handful of indie developers are currently launching HTML5-based arcade and board game titles on Facebook, iOS and Android. Though some of these titles are experiencing growing pains in their early days, they are functional on both web and mobile. Most developers have told us, however, that it’ll be at least another year before HTML5 comes into its own for game development.
Adobe says that it will now take a larger role in contributing to HTLM5 development both through investment and by working with Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM. Hopefully this will yield better HTML5 tools more quickly than a year out from now, as Adobe’s strength has always been tools.
The rest of its mobile work will focus on native app packaging with Adobe Air and the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. The developer will also supply bug fixes and security updates for existing Flash mobile apps. Adobe Flash Player 11 and Air 3 launched in October with a keen emphasis on high-end gaming graphics and HD video for PCs; Adobe says it’s already at work on Flash Player 12.