Adobe’s news this week that it will no longer develop Flash for mobile browsers is being celebrated as a victory for HTML5 and the notion that interactive web experiences should rely on common standards, not specialized plug-ins that may or may not work on whatever device you happen to be using at any given moment.
In some ways this is a legacy of Steve Jobs, who outlined his position in his “Thoughts on Flash” essay in April 2010.
“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice,” he wrote. “Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”
But Microsoft has also played a major role, supporting HTML5 in Internet Explorer and taking its own stand against browser plug-ins.
Wrote Dean Hachamovitch, the Microsoft executive who leads the Internet Explorer team, in a September blog post: “Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI. The reality today is that sites are already rapidly engineering for a plug-in free experience.”
The big question now: What happens to Silverlight, Microsoft’s Flash alternative? Mary Jo Foley reports on ZDNet that the upcoming Silverlight 5 could be the last version.
Adobe will continue to develop Flash for PCs, but it’s pretty easy to see where this is headed.