Steve Jobs Gets His Revenge As Adobe Kills Off Mobile Flash



After years of promises and over a year of buggy, lame Android builds, Adobe’s finally ready to concede that Apple was right all along: Adobe is finally admitting that Flash is wholly unsuitable for phones and tablets and halting development, once and for all.

Well, it’s actually not quite that simple. Adobe will still provide bug fixes and security updates for the current version of mobile Flash for Android and RIM’s Playbook, but otherwise, it’s every licensee for himself.

In a statement to developers, Adobe wrote:

Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates

Good riddance. Although Android smartphone and tablet makers proudly advertised their devices’ ability to run Flash as a major selling point, consumers either didn’t really care at best or openly hated what Flash did to performance and battery life on their devices at worst. After years of work trying to prove Steve Jobs wrong, Adobe still couldn’t deliver a version of Flash that ran on a smartphone well.

Let’s not mince words. In canning Flash for mobile platforms, Adobe’s essentially admitting that Flash is a dead-end product that they will be phasing out over the next couple of years. The writing’s on the wall: the whole web is moving to HTML5, and so is Adobe.

Looks like Steve was right. Again.

  • gareth edwards

    Muwaahahahaaaa. evil laugh over.

    So, Stevie-boy was on the money, now there’s a surprise.

    Skate to where the puck’s gonna be baby.

  • Mike Pisino

    I think it’s funny that they are still working on this Air to develop apps thing.  If you want to learn to do it right, and be able to do it at all after a few years, learn Cocoa and the Xcode platform.  I feel sorry for the flash developers out there.

  • guest

    I was thinking recently that to honor Steve’s memory everyone should get together and @#$% flash once and for all.

  • aardman

    I wonder how much the timing of this announcement was delayed because Adobe dreaded the prospect of conceding to Steve, while he was still alive, that he was right.

    It’s just over a month since he died and I don’t think a company would reach a critical decision like this in the space of a month.

  • _mcat

    HTML 5 was always the answer. It may not be where flash is now but the sacrifice in functionality for performance is worth it, and it won’t be long before it can do as much and more. Apple once agains kills off dated bloatware.

  • madhatter61

    John, your title is off base.  It is not about Steve getting revenge.  It is about chosing services that work effectively in the mobile world, which Flash does not.  There are standards that help everyone, but not all companies follow the standards.  IE for starters.  It helped spread the Flash technology that has poor performance on mobile devices, expecially with power demands and multitouch features.  Workable in the PC world, but opens up a whole world of hurt in defense against malware.

    If you want a classy presentation read “daringfireball” by John Gruber.  

  • Mystakill

    You do realize that AIR is a runtime for Flash, Flex, HTML, and Ajax, right?  Flash isn’t going away; only the standalone player is.

  • csman

    Steve Jobs is dead, man. Get over it. He will never know Flash died. 

  • Shaunathan Sprocket

    Translation: @#$% = uninstall.

  • Dutch_Razor

    He already knew, back in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced. It just took this long for Adobe to know, too.

  • mlahero

    Exactly, I really do suspect that these tech bloggers don’t actually understand the technology they are writing about.

    Mobile Flash Player: Dead
    Flash on mobile: Still alive as apps

    Flash simply compiles (via AIR) to a native Android or iOS app. The AIR runtime is bundled into the app. For Joe Public they are not aware of the apps nature, an app is an app as far as they are concerned.

  • mlahero

    Truth be told the hints and clues were all there that this was happening for the best part of a year. Lee Brimelow (Adobe Flash Evangelist) was constantly talking about how AIR was getting better and better for making apps, and there was absolutely no mention of the mobile Flash Player on his blog.

    In retrospect its obvious that he knew that mobile Flash Player was a dead end, and that Flash-to-App was the future for Flash on mobile devices.

  • mlahero

    Compiling apps through Flash via Air yields exceptional results. Its obvious that they’ve been working very hard at it.

    For instance;

  • erephus


    I have not read so much about Flash, iPhone and Steve Jobs. All I know (knew) was that flash not avaibke for my old iPhone 3G.

    But as I can hardly see that adobe did anything wrong to Steve Jobs by releasing flash to android I have to assume that is there something more to it that warrants the epithet revenge. What is that?

  • iDaBoss

    classy is overrated

  • iDaBoss

    there’s no surprise. apple just moves on standards faster

  • mlahero

    I imagine that the team usually investing their time into the mobile Flash Player are simply now working on the HTML5 tools instead.

    I suspect that Flash CS6 will have “convert to HTML5/Javascript” as an export feature, HTML5/CSS3 can handle the graphics and Javascript is so similar to Actionscript that the conversion there should be possible too.

  • Mike Pisino

    I don’t know, the way that many sites are starting to offer their content in formats other than, although along with, flash, makes me believe that we are seeing the end of cycle for Flash.  It’ll be around for a while longer, but the technology has become a little cumbersome in comparison to other formats over recent years.  It’s a shame too, because for a designer there is no easier way to create an animation without having to know more than a few lines of code.

  • mlahero

    Now I think about it….. I dont know any design agencies out there who have been making Flash specifically for a mobile device. Every single agency has a flow that splits between the desktop site and the mobile site. The desktop site might have Flash, and the mobile site would be designed specifically for mobile devices in general (i.e. no Flash whatsoever).

    Maybe Adobe realised this and that continuing to work on a mobile Flash player was simply a waste of time as it had been bypassed anyway by the fundamental nature of mobile web design.

  • Ddng

    what a shit-stirrer you are

  • Conrad Nelson

    This is bad. I liked having Flash on my Droid.

    Thumbs down for kissing Steve Jobs ass. He didn’t predict this, he was just making excuses for not letting flash on the iPhone. Most of the excuses were outright lies, and the rest was Jobs accusing Adobe of something he’s done from the very beginning.

    I shouldn’t be surprised they put that out in that way, because it is a site that even admits its a Cult of Steve Jobs front.

  • Conrad Nelson

    Apple hardly moves to standards that fast. Faster than Microsoft, but nowhere near as fast as Linux.

  • mlahero

    To be fair Flash is still on your Droid, and if your android is anything like mine then it probably runs fairly well.

    And yes I didn’t like the pretentious tone of this article, I have no idea why “revenge” is relevant. But thats brownlee for you, not quite MG siegler thank god.

  • MarioWario

    Adobe regains street credibility by this good decision. A problem I see right away is about crippling web standards today – e. g. Google (last time I could reach CNET-TV just with CHROME) and ISP’s who are faking even the usability of mail (reroute 404 – filter TCP/IP – prioritize web traffic – outsource search to Google a.s.o.) – oh and don’t forget Microsoft (IE-specific websites – buggy emails). BTW Apple isn’t the cleanest in this bunch – just look at their web apps (MobileMe – please learn one day from Google (Calendar – Mail))

  • mlahero

    “So the big question I’m sure you have is, why did we do this? The
    decision reflects the reality that the kind of highly-interactive
    content people build with Flash, games being a great example, are
    much-better suited to run as mobile apps. Also there is the fact that
    Flash is not nearly as ubiquitous on mobile browsers as it is on the
    desktop. Because of these things we have decided to focus all our
    efforts on taking the AIR runtime to the next level on mobile in
    addition to new development areas with HTML5 like PhoneGap. No longer
    having to support the mobile browser version of Flash frees up valuable
    resources that we can redirect to these more important areas.”

    From Lee Brimelows flash blog. Makes a lot of sense to me.

  • lol brownlee

    Everyone already knows flash is proprietary and has a high overhear before jobs got on his pony.
    I see it like this:When jobs had his flash hissy fit, the iphone accounted for 65% of mobile browsing. He effectively shut the door on flash, and locked out 65% of consumers from being able to use it, even if the wanted to (and there were many that wanted to, and still do)So naturally without having a market for your app, why would you continue to develop it? I’s a simple business decision. Adobe could have negated most of jobs’ points in his open letter with further development of flash but what’s the point if you cant deploy it to the largest chunk of the market.
    BTW, nice article brownlee, I especially like how you make things up that have no factual basis, I see you value your (lack of) credibility 

  • rockarollr

    Face it, Apple haters. The man knew his sh*t.

  • RandyG

    Where do I report crimes against journalism?
    This site is going downhill…. fast

  • RandyG

    We don’t hate Apple, infact we quite like what Apple have done. We just hate bad journalism, unsupported claims and silly statements

  • RandyG

    Would it hurt for you to report the facts, give supporting evidence for your posts and leave out your personal opinion and cheap shots at others?

  • aardman

    As I said, they just couldn’t bring themselves to eat humble pie while Steve was still alive.

  • rockarollr

    That statement was not directed toward you, RandyG. It also was not a reply to what you had said. I was speaking to “Apple haters” in general.

  • joshuacurtiss

    Hahahahahah I tell you what, you’re one of the few journalists I occasionally read that actually irks me even when I agree with you. Your writing is so terribly unprofessional that it truly is a crime as others say.

    I am almost ashamed to say that my desire to read your “articles” has gone from dislike to disdain and wrapped all the way around again to eagerness due to morbid curiosity.

  • Keith

    The best use of any tablet….Angry Birds.

  • mlahero

    I dunno man… Brownlee is always like this. Unprofessional and amateur.

  • David Wallace

    I’m a windows geek. I am on my newly minted Hackintosh right now, but I am still a geek. The number one thing I prefer about Android is flash. This is because flash is still a fact of life, and because I use Subsonic to stream videos from my home computer to my Asus Transformer. I owned an iPad for 24 hours and an iPad 2 for just over 48 hours. The problem with both is that the non-flash video streaming options couldn’t handle a mobile connection. I spent more time restarting and fast forwarding videos than I did actually watching them. My use of Android may not be the most common, but on the fly transcoding never seems good in non-flash implementations. I look forward to low overhead HTML5 transcoding, but where is it?

    Further to the point. Android/Flash offers freedom to choose. I run flash “on-demand” so its not on until I want it to be on. I would actually keep an iPad if they gave me the same level of freedom to make choices. Imagine a car with a governor not only to keep you from never going over 65MPH, but also kept your acceleration to the most efficient slow acceleration to ensure what the car manufacturer considered to be in your best interest. Sounds ridiculous but in many ways that is what Apple is saying about it’s mobile users. That you don’t have the brains to manage your battery life or performance on your own, and that you must be coddled. Liberty or death.

  • Lol brownlee

    and it appears i was right…
    “This one should be pretty apparent, but given the fragmentation of the mobile market, and the fact that one of the leading mobile platforms (Apple’s iOS) was not going to allow the Flash Player in the browser, the Flash Player was not on track to reach anywhere near the ubiquity of the Flash Player on desktops… Just to be very clear on this. No matter what we did, the Flash Player was not going to be available on Apple’s iOS anytime in the foreseeable future.”

    –Mike Chambers, lead product manager for Flash