I’m not sure if we should call this a victory for Apple or a defeat for Adobe. I suppose that depends on who you ask.
Adobe has officially abandoned support for the Flash interpreter it previously trumpeted as a gateway for developers to get their games on the iPhone and iPad. As reported in 9To5Mac, Adobe will leave the interpreter/compiler currently included in the CS5 suite but with little hope of it working on future iterations of the iPhone OS. Adobe has also stopped any future investments in development of the system. Additionally, Adobe advised developers with apps currently available for the iPhone OS platform they fully expected them to get yanked soon.
And just like that, one of the most contentious issues in the iPhone environment is over. When the iPhone debuted in 2007, Flash was a dominant force in the dynamic web. Many foretold the lack of Flash support as a significant weakness in the system. Three years into the grand iPhone experiment and it was Adobe that blinked, not Apple. The same held true of the iPad. Many moaned and groaned it did not support Flash but the maturity of the HTML 5 and H.264 standards have all but assured Flash’s place in history.
While Google has welcomed Adobe with open arms during their spat with Apple, it has been, as I’ve said before, for rather cynical reasons. Google was happy to have Adobe in their corner for as long as it benefits them. Being able to say you support Flash on your platform versus Apple that doesn’t is a key element in a strategy of attracting the users who want Flash-enabled content. It will be interesting to see how long that strange marriage lasts. As noted in the article:
But Is Google excited about Flash? Remember, it was Youtube that went to H.264-encoded MP4s (and made lack of Flash on the iPhone that much more bearable). That wasn’t because Google was head over heals for depending on Flash and their technology.
Ultimately this whole episode demonstrates two things. First, Apple carries such influence and power in the current computing environment it creates trends, it doesn’t follow them. By blocking Flash and becoming a proponent of HTML 5, Apple shaped the future of computing. When was the last time Google or Microsoft did that? Second, Flash is quickly becoming an anachronism of a time where the plug-in internet was the only way to support dynamic content. As standardization makes the web experience universal, companies like Adobe will have to adapt or move on.
What do you think of Adobe’s decision to quit the iPhone platform? Is it a victory for Apple and standardization? Is it a defeat for choice and platform freedom? Let us know what you think below.