Steve Jobs' famous Thoughts on Flash article from April 2010 marked the beginning of the end for Adobe Flash's future on mobile. Jobs listed several reasons why iOS wouldn't support Flash. At the time, Mobile Flash was seen as a pretty hot technology and a great way to create cross-platform apps — if only Apple would just get with the times and approve it for the iPhone.
Not supporting Flash was a bold and controversial move. In short order, however, Apple's position pushed Web developers to start learning about HTML5. It also got Adobe to move beyond Flash and reinvent some of its core product offerings.
After Apple Rejected Flash, Adobe Had to Embrace Open Source
Adobe has a long history with open source — primarily in creating expensive commercial products that spur others to develop open-source alternatives. Photoshop inspired GIMP, Dreamweaver beget a passel of open-source WYSIWYG HTML editors, and Adobe's large commercial font library prompted many low-cost, free and open-source alternatives.
For years, though, Adobe and Flash seemed to compete with the Open Web. Until recently, Adobe was clearly winning, too. The free (but not open source) Flash plugin is installed in nearly every desktop browser and was the de facto standard for Web video and multimedia. Adobe's goal was to make Flash just as ubiquitous on mobile devices. When Apple rejected Flash, quashing that dream, Adobe embraced HTML5 and the Open Web wholeheartedly.
Adobe's problem, however, was the lack of a good alternative to Flash. HTML5 was still in its infancy, and key features still weren't well-supported in any browser, especially mobile versions. Apple's creation and open sourcing of the WebKit browser engine moved the Open Web and HTML5 a giant leap forward — but there was (and still is) a long way to go before Web standards could compete with Flash in terms of functionality, ease of development and ubiquity.
- Lack of good development tools
- Unfinished HTML5 and CSS3 standards not fully implemented anywhere
- Inability of HTML5 and CSS3 to access device functionality directly
- No way to distribute HTML5 apps in app stores
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