For make no mistake, Adobe is killing Flash entirely. The moment Flash failed to scale efficiently to mobile devices it was doomed. Mobile Internet access is the heartbeat of technology’s future and Adobe has had the nous not to prolong a slow death. Like almost every technological invention, progress has deemed it irrelevant. It has taken 16 years, but HTML has caught up.
With HTML5 we finally have an open source alternative which is just as good and – what is more – it scales. The theory behind HTML5 has excited many for years, not least the late Steve Jobs, but in dropping development of mobile Flash it is Adobe which has quit on its own terms and given the format its biggest boost to date. It is an execution Adobe has been quietly planning for some time. It began trialling a Flash-to-HTML5 converter in March and it has given its three million developers an ongoing bread line by enabling Flash, in its own words, “to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores.”
By killing Flash and putting its backing behind HTML5, Adobe is also effectively killing other proprietary multimedia platforms and Microsoft Silverlight is seemingly next for the chop. Oh the irony: the purveyor of proprietary formats voluntarily ceding its position to open source and in the process dooming all others with the same mentality. Of course Adobe itself will be fine. In its Q3 financial results announced in September operating margins were nearly 30 per cent, annual revenue growth up 10 per cent and annual earnings up 20 per cent.
“Our industry is in the midst of a major transformation,” said Adobe CEO and President Shantanu Narayen on announcing the figures. “We are aligning around two large initiatives: Content Authoring and Digital Marketing. Each of these opportunities offers significant growth potential, and Adobe is well-positioned to be the market leader in both.” This doesn’t even take into account Photoshop and its latest jaw dropping innovations.
All of which means we should be thanking Adobe and Flash for both past and present. Firstly Flash for taking web development out of the dark ages – the rich pages you enjoy now owe it a huge debt, regardless of how they were coded. Secondly to Adobe for not holding on until the bitter end, despite paying $3.4bn for the technology, and allowing the open, predominant markup language for the web to once again take centre stage.
HTML5 the floor is yours. You better not get stage fright…