Adobe recently announced that it was effectively killing Flash for mobile devices, and the company’s Principal Product Manager has felt the need to take to his blog and share the reasons that Flash failed.
Hardware fragmentation, the growth of HTML5, and Apple itself all played into Adobe’s decision to end Flash.
Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager at Adobe:
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.
The ubiquity of HTML5 made Flash obsolete:
Related to the point above, HTML5 has very strong support on modern mobile devices and tablets. Indeed, on mobile devices, it has a level of ubiquity similar to what the Flash Player has on the desktop. While performance and implementations haven’t always been great or consistent across devices, they have continued to improve at a pretty dramatic rate (just look at the insane Canvas performance increases between iOS 4 and 5).
Apple’s App Store and the success of apps in general have pushed users away from Flash:
On the desktop, users are used to consuming rich content (such as games and applications) via both the browser and native applications. However, on mobile devices users are much more likely to look exclusively toward applications for consuming rich content. The mobile platforms make it very easy to discover new content and applications by providing tight integration between the app stores (Apple App Store, Android Marketplace, etc..) and the mobile operating system. In general, users do not look to the web on mobile devices for finding and consuming rich content (such as games and applications).
Chambers goes on to list other factors, like the difficultly involved in making Flash plugins for multiple mobile browsers. Adobe is shifting its focus towards AIR and HTML5 development. Flash will continue to be supported on the desktop.
We recommend reading Steve Jobs’ incredible letter on Flash from last year. We’re sure that he would say something along the lines of “good riddance” today.