Categories: Mobile Phones News   Tags: , , ,
3 Pages


UPDATE: Adobe has made it official. ZDNet was spot on with its report: the company will indeed move away from Flash Player on mobile “to increase investment in HTML5.”

Big news today: according to a report on ZDNet, Adobe has pulled the plug on its Flash Player for mobile plans. If you’ll recall, processor intensive Flash became something of a high stakes poker game between Apple, Adobe and rivals. Did it provide the full internet experience on your phone, or an unnecessary, laggy, surplus one? Millions were wagered in R&D, marketing and manpower.

You could argue this is a posthumous victory for Steve Jobs, who went so far as to pen a 1,700 word diatribe against Flash. Today Adobe, and thus Android, folded on its hand.

Actually though, I’m an Android fan, and I’m glad Adobe is backing down on this. You should be too.

As of right now, Adobe is shifting its approach to Flash on mobiles, which allows for streaming video and desktop games on your blower. It’s no longer planning on producing Flash Players for new mobile platforms, so you can probably forget about Flash on Windows Phone, which had previously been in the pipeline. Flash for Android and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will be supported, but only patched with bug fixes and security updates: don’t expect any more useful features or performance boosts.

Instead, Adobe is focusing on using Flash as a means to make apps multi-platform easily using Adobe AIR, so it’ll cease to be something users have to deal with.

Good riddance, I say. I love Android, I love the ability to use whatever browser I want as the default browser, I love the ability to install plug-ins. I’m one of the people who isn’t willing to play in the iPhone’s walled garden. But Flash for mobile made that grass look very, very green indeed.

Adobe Flash for Android is a complete mess, and a crux for lazy developers to rely on. Take the BBC for instance. After booting the flawless BeebPlayer app, which tapped into the mobile streams meant for the iPhone and other devices, off the Android Market, it eventually came out with a BBC iPlayer Android app earlier this year.

It was more than a little pointless, because it required your Android phone support Flash, and as I pointed out at the time, if yours did, you could already watch BBC iPlayer. The app didn’t help: my Google Nexus S is completely incapable of streaming the high quality 800kbps stream of any Auntie channel or program on it.

I’d find myself putting my phone down and reaching for my iPad instead, because I knew the same show would work smoothly. That wasn’t even the worst of it either: less powerful smartphones were also given the update. Here’s someone’s attempts at getting Adobe Flash to run on a Google Nexus One:


Now, I’ll admit I don’t really have these problems on dual-core Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and LG Optimus 3D. It runs smoothly enough on them, but that’s the rub. If it runs on some Android phones well and not others, it’s just confusing to users, especially when the mobile YouTube app runs just fine.

And that’s not even taking into account all the Android phones that don’t support Flash at all, or the Android tablets without Android Market access that boast of Flash support, except that it’s not always available on launch and turns up a little later and – do you see where I’m going with this? I know the ins and outs of this because I’ve reported on it for so long, but the one in four people in the UK who own an Android phone shouldn’t have to. I don’t think anyone can say Steve Jobs was wrong if he wanted to make something that “just works”.

“What’s the difference between that video type and this one?” Joe Bloggs might ask. But in an ideal world, he shouldn’t need to know. If his phone can film and playback HD video, why does it tank when he tries to switch to 720p resolution on YouTube?

But surely it’s better than nothing, right? I disagree. Flash for mobile is a band-aid, a selling point to help Apple’s rivals sell their phones and tablets to the consumer against the iPhone. It’s a “Droid Does” thing, as one network’s marketing campaign went, back before it was allowed to sell the iPhone. It’s time for it to come off.

To be clear, Flash still has its place on the desktop. Don’t take it from me, take it from a YouTube engineer: there are all sorts of reasons why Flash still sticks around, from security for rights holders to camera/mic access for recording your own webcam rants for YouTube.

But why settle for it on some Android phones? If big rights-holders are finally coming round to mobile video and HTML 5 (In September, Channel 4 finally brought 4oD to iOS), why force some Android owners to settle for a miniaturised desktop version that sometimes works maybe if you’re lucky but you’ll probably have to put up with a lot of stutter and even then etc etc?

Android is more than good enough to stand on its own against the iPhone without having to shout about support for Flash, and that’s without even factoring the features coming in Ice Cream Sandwich.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. 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,” wrote Steve Jobs in his April 2010 open letter.

“Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticising Apple for leaving the past behind.”

Adobe has been investing in HTML 5 for a while, but today, it drew a line in the sand. As an Android devotee – and not an apologist – that comes as a great relief.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t love having Flash on my Android device but it has proven to be quite handy in the past, it’s a nice backup to have for some of the sites who refuse to admit Flash is a massive turn off for a lot of users.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the thing though. It’s a backup and should remain just that. Adobe sidelining it like this means it and everyone else can concentrate on getting HTML5 up to spec.

      • travelsko

        wp7 is the biggest failure ever. after KIN. No apps and no games sorry wp7

        I stay with may Iphone or Android

      • travelsko

        wp7 is the biggest failure ever. after KIN. No apps and no games sorry wp7

        I stay with may Iphone or Android

  • Anonymous

    Flash isn’t going anywhere.  Adobe won’t be pulling it from the market.  It’s already upto Flash 11, and no sites really take advantage of Flash 11 features.
    Android phones will continue to be the only phones that support flash, and have desktop versions of sites that work on tablets and phones.

    5 years from now, that story might be different, when HTML5 powers the web, but right now to say it’s game over for flash is naive.

    • Anonymous

      I’d say this is the beginning of the end on mobile! Certainly not going anywhere on desktops anytime soon.

      PS Some webOS phones support Flash too. Or did, depending on whether you consider them as sitll existing or not. Even HP says that’s up in the air right now.

  • Anonymous

    I have never had a problem with flash on my Android phone, never had any forced crashed either.  With out flash the user experience on a phone is limited, what ever apple fanboys say.  But with Adobe working more & more on html5 I guess it is natural to stop releasing new versions. 

    • Anonymous

      Indeed! So, my Nexus S has pretty bad Flash performance but I’ll admit it runs just fine on newer Android phones. The problem is when it’s a desktop site, the controls just aren’t made for mobile. Trying to go fullscreen, say, or jump back and forward, can be incredibly tricky. 4oD also runs badly on Android, and tends to fail after an advert break which is very frustrating.

  • Anon

    Weird, iPlayers works fine on my Nexus One and Kongregate arcade is one of my most used apps. All the talk of ‘resource hungry Flash’ seems rather short sighted. My 2 year old single core phone manages with most stuff so surely the quad core, graphics chip enhanced phones of 2012 will eat it for breakfast?

    • Anonymous

      Sure, but that’s besides the point when Flash on Android is such a mess to the average Joe. Which phones have it and which don’t? As I said above, it makes no sense, especially when some video runs perfectly on every single Android phone – the pre-installed YouTube app, for instance. BeebPlayer really underlined that – same image quality and smooth performance on any Android phone as iPhone. Was a tragedy Auntie shut it down.

  • Fred

    I prefer having a a plugin that enables me to do everything in my browser on my android tablet that I would normally do on a PC. I dont have to have apps to view parts of websites on my PC and I dont want to do it on my tablet either.

    For me and perhaps others this makes a mobile platform on 10 inch tablets completely pointless because you can not view and do half the stuff you can on the web without a stupid app being installed. This is the exact reason I didnt buy an iPad because it is a big phone.  

    • Anonymous

      Well, where HTML5 is going, the video should run in the browser, so no app required there either. It’ll just be less flaky. Some of our parent company’s sites already provide this for tablets. Easy.

      • Rajdeep Rath

        Sorry but here are some things i will disagree about. I fully agree about the part that, flash plugin for mobile browser is a must go. But thats because conent made for big screen wont work half as well on a small screen. - >  Adobe AIR  = Flash as a application runtime.- >  Please dont say things like smartphones are phones with low power. Today we are at quadcore. Most peopel dont even have a quadcore desktop at home. If you see which phones dont run Adobe air in Android 2.3 and greater versions of OS, please see their hard ware configs.- >  The reason Adobe AIR is a success is because you can do live streaming and watch live streaming from Adobe AIR.- >  App development of native android vs Adobe AIR is just too time taking. Thats why Google has allowed Adobe to be on their horseback.- >  HTML5 video is a baby and if you can put up a html5 video on your website now i can show you quickly how i can rip your sites bandwidth using that. Thats why youtube is not moving anywhere with its html5 version.This is not to defend Adobe air, but rather to state some tools out perform  others in some areas.  So its good to have choice of tools in your hand.

        • Anonymous

          Fair enough – although I’d argue that just because a few quad-core phones are on sale does not mean all of our phones our capable of this. Far from it – all the low power Android and BlackBerry handsets mean quite the opposite. But yes, the more choice the better.

        • Anonymous

          Fair enough – although I’d argue that just because a few quad-core phones are on sale does not mean all of our phones our capable of this. Far from it – all the low power Android and BlackBerry handsets mean quite the opposite. But yes, the more choice the better.

  • Benjamin Krausse

    What relief? I use flash on my single core android device, and, while it’s not always smooth, I wouldn’t want to be without it. I even prefer to watch youtube videos in the browser instead of in the youtube app, because I get the whole thing, not just some dumbed-down version of youtube. It takes some patience, but in the end, the video runs smoothly. My sister, for example, might not want to use it on her Android device, but then, that is what Android is all about, right? Doing what you want, having a device that does what it’s hardware is capable of. Maybe, if I get annotations, links within videos, that nice “gallery” that comes up after the video is done, a proper comments section, and everything the flash version can do, I’ll switch to the mobile app. Until then, flash is what I’ll be using. But, after that, there are the thousands of websites that still use flash. And I don’t mind that all too much.
    The main problem is how much effort was put into it by Adobe. It seems like Adobe rushed to get it out on Android as quick as possible, and then forgot about it. It shouldn’t be this laggy, this slow. That’s just plain old lousy programming without paying attention to places where less processing power could be used. As a comparison, I’ve tried flash on my dad’s BlackBerry Playbook, and it runs beautifully as ever. Sure, it has double the processing power of my Android, but the difference is unproportional.
    Flash for mobile didn’t have to be dead. It obviously is, but it wasn’t necessary. I don’t see much of a room for survival on the desktop now, either, because website developers want to make their sites viewable to desktop and mobile viewers. Sure, you can have different layouts for mobile, etc., but the content still should be the same, so they’ll stick to html5. I’m dissapointed in Adobe for killing whatever flash there was left. But then, it’s Adobe’s own fault. Adobe could have made it run nice and smoothly, but it didn’t. Now, I’ve got some youtube videos playing on html5 in the android browser, and I can’t get it to run in flash, and it’s pissing me off. Flash had potential, Adobe just sat back and didn’t seem to care.

    • swallaby

      Hey there Benjamin, I just got an Acer Iconia A700 tablet and cant watch what I want or listen to radio playback from my home country! Really Lame!! Any advise on what I should do? It would be appreciated. Cheers Andy

  • guest01

    I did Flash development for over 10 years. It was and still is pretty fun and awesome. However Steve Jobs purposefully harmed it and I think it was really needless. Html5 still isn’t where it claimed it would be and I wonder if it ever will be. Open standards are way over blown. Html5 is what html should have been years ago and it’s still not fully comparable to Flash numerous versions ago. The fact of the matter is Steve Jobs unleashed hordes of anti flash jerks as a sort of fad or something on a relatively unexpecting flash community who had a hard time understanding what the big freaking deal was when flash has done so much for the web. I for one was happy when Jobs died. The guy was a jerk.

  • Anonymous

    Well im using jellybean on my nexus s. I can now NOT watch iPlayer, 4od and countless other streaming avenues. All this has done is give Apple an advantage

Hot chat, right here!

Our most commented stories right now...