Adobe Flash is now a thing of the past. As of Nov. 9, Flash began to be phased out of the mobile market. In their official statement, Adobe cited the growth of HTML5 as an industry standard as the reason for the abandonment of the mobile platform, but to anyone who has followed the long fight between Adobe and Apple over Flash know the real reason that Flash is dying: the iPhone.
Apple chose long ago to discontinue support for mobile flash; the company never included the option to view Flash on the iPhone. The exponential growth of the iPhone franchise was a huge blow to the Flash platform and to Adobe itself. Last year the fight between the two intensified. In April 2010, Steve Jobs published a letter explaining why Apple did not support Flash, citing a closed system, reliability, battery life and the growth of touch interfaces. Adobe Flash, he said, was not being utilized for the mobile platform, as code that was developed for desktops consumed too much power on mobile devices and waited for mouse interactions that would never come. In May, Adobe countered with a fierce ad campaign denouncing Apple as the true closed system, saying that they cannot and should not control what users can view on their devices.
Adobe’s decision to stop support for mobile Flash may have been unexpected, but it was almost inevitable. Advertisers do not want websites that half of all Internet viewers will see, and that number is growing with every iPhone and iPad sale. They have been fighting a battle that has gotten to the point of being one-sided, and they surrendered.
So what does all this mean? For the average desktop user, not much. There will be fewer Flash websites as HTML5 picks up where it leaves off. The mobile user will see a definite decline in Flash media. Anyone who uses mobile Apple products will not notice the difference too much until they go to a desktop. For the graphic designer, however, this decision causes a lucrative career path to disintegrate. Students here at Oswego State learn how to animate and code specifically for Adobe Flash; watching these skills go to waste hits hard. Marketing and business professionals will have to come up with different means of getting exciting visuals to the consumer, and web developers will have to learn new practices to get around this absence.
What will happen now in the visual Internet world? We will adapt. Design has always evolved with the technology and there will be new opportunities for innovation, but it will take some time. Apple will celebrate its long-sought victory over Adobe, which will invest heavily in HTML5 and continue to work on Flash for desktops. Flash is not dead yet, but this announcement was definitely one of the final nails in its coffin.