∞ On the demise of mobile Flash

Editor’s Note: Matt Alexander is the owner and editor of ONE37.net, a writer, a technology enthusiast, and a contributing writer for The Loop.

Mobile Flash is, and always has been, pointless.

Regardless of platform, Mobile Flash absorbs battery life, heats phones, and provides an unquestionably lackluster end-user experience.

And yet, hardware manufacturers continue to tout Mobile Flash’s relevance. Best Buy clerks try to sell you on the advantages of Flash over sans-Flash platforms. Ads flaunt the apparent benefits of a Flash-enabled web on your tablet and phone. Meanwhile, reviewers across the web grapple with its usefulness and buggy implementation. So, the question is, why has there been such prominent exposure of one feature?

Simply put, Mobile Flash has been an excuse of a “feature” for platforms in the face of iOS.

In the face of the ever-growing App Store, hardware manufacturers have used Flash compatibility as a cheap way out. With the uneven distribution of media apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus on Android, Mobile Flash has provided vague, unfounded hope to the uninformed consumer.

Realistically, the majority of media outlets block Mobile Flash, thus rendering any hope of watching Flash video as limited to obscure situations, or victim to bothersome workarounds. The primary use for Mobile Flash has largely become rendering aging Flash-based ads, and older web interfaces.

Whether you agree with this assessment or not, Adobe seems to have sensed the pointlessness of the endeavor, and that speaks volumes.

The rise of web standards has cast renewed focus on the modernization of the Internet. With focus on HTML5 and responsive web applications, both Flash and Mobile Flash have stood out as the stubborn, pointless protectors of uninspired, 1990s-esque web design, and today, one of them at least, has taken a welcome, final bow.

Adobe has made a mature and sensible decision here. Let’s hope this is a pattern they choose to follow in future.

As for Apple’s Flash-offering rivals, how might they choose to account for this? Having pushed Mobile Flash as such a key differentiator, they’re looking at dealing with a whole host of confused and misinformed consumers.

This ought to be interesting to follow.



  • Anonymous

    Tablets are going to start using “real flash” and use the full flash implementation (I believe many do already).

    • Anonymous

      pointless.

      • Anonymous

        Yep, but so was mobile flash and that didn’t stop them.

        Btw, I’m pretty sure all smartphones/tablets that claim flash support are using the full flash. Mobile flash was a separate product that was for very low end devices.

        I’m expecting the announcement to be “nobody used it because full flash is so awesome”

        • Anonymous

          The “full flash” experience won’t cut it. Flash (and flash lite) is a browser plugin and it’ll discontinued and replaced with Adobe Air support.That means development will be aimed at platform apps, not in-browser mayhem. 

  • Welcome, Matt! This was a well-written article which happened to mirror for the most part my own thoughts on the matter.

    I always thought Steve Jobs’ statement regarding Apple’s decision to ban Flash from iOS was a level-headed one to make. They even left the door open to Adobe to “fix” Flash and then reevaluate.

    I don’t think anyone could have predicted Flash’s eventual demise around the time of the Macromedia acquisition.

    But such is the game of life, n’est-ce pas?

    • His Shadow

      I routinely run across people who have insisted for the last 4 years that Apple “couldn’t make Flash work” on iOS and that Jobs reasons were a smokescreen. Which would make sense if in 2007 mobile Flash was working anywhere, never mind working well.

      The battle cry will shift to “real Flash” and history rewritten to make mobile Flash a stopgap to pave the way for “the full Flash experience” on what I’m sure will be billed as the next generation of powerful tablets whose batteries will be oddly short lived, and noisy because of their fans.

      • Anonymous

        There is no such thing as “real Flash”. The mobile Flash version was supposed to be “real Flash” for your phone. Don’t get confused between mobile Flash and Flash lite. 

        The only real Flash has ever been for Windows. It has sucked for every other platform. Mobile Flash was to be desktop Flash developed for ARM CPUs and phone hardware. Adobe is not going to develop Flash for mobile devices any longer. So unless your phone runs “real Windows”, you aren’t getting “real Flash”.

        This is Adobe announcing that Flash will continue to suck for every platform except Windows. And it looks like Windows 8 is going to make it hard for Adobe to even keep desktop Flash going.

        This is the death of all Flash. Even if Adobe won’t admit that yet.

  • Anonymous

    The “full flash” experience won’t cut it. Flash (and flash lite) is a browser plugin and it’ll discontinued and replaced with Adobe Air support.That means development will be aimed at platform apps, not in-browser mayhem. 

  • His Shadow

    Laugh? I damn near died…

  • “Having pushed Mobile Flash as such a key differentiator, they’re looking at dealing with a whole host of confused and misinformed consumers.”

    Not to mention a whole bunch of pissed-off restaurateurs.

  • Anonymous

    But how will I play “Bloons?”

  • Maybe now restaurant websites will finally post their hours/menu/phone number on their website in a non-Flash format.  You know, like HTML.

  • Congrats to Matt. He’s a solid writer and will contribute great material.