Adobe Manager Explains Why Mobile Flash Failed

Last week, Adobe announced that it was going to be discontinuing its work on its mobile Flash player. The news wasn’t that surprising, but it seemed to catch a lot of folks off-guard. There was even some confusion regarding the company’s decision to end the project.

With that in mind, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for developer relations on the Flash platform, Mike Chambers, took to his blog yesterday. He felt that he needed to clear the air on why Adobe chose to nix the mobile Flash project…

In his lengthy post, Chambers lists several factors that contributed to the failure of mobile Flash. Among them includes the growing popularity of HTML5, hardware fragmentation (different screen sizes, resolutions, etc.), and, of course, Apple.

“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.”

That’s because Flash hasn’t ever performed well on mobile devices. At least not consistently. And even if it does work for an extended amount of time, it drains your battery. Tests have shown that running Flash video can reduce a device’s battery life by over 50%.

Chambers fails to mention this in his post, even though it’s obviously relevant. Just think, if Flash performed well on mobile devices, and it didn’t suffer from any of the hurdles Steve Jobs outlined in his “Thoughts on Flash” letter, why wouldn’t Apple have used it?

The bottom line is, mobile Flash didn’t fail because of Apple. It didn’t fail because of HTML5. It failed because it sucked.