Flash is dead (on mobile). Long live Flash! – part 2

On the contrary, Adobe bought phoneGap last month and clearly turned its strategy to focus on mobile apps (phoneGap AND Air) rather than Flash-based websites for mobiles.

Adobe has announced that they stopped Flash Player development on mobiles. I’ve been hearing so much noise around this that I think it needs some explanation.

Adobe has stopped Flash Player on mobiles. That’s all. Nothing more. It means that Flash Player won’t be updated for mobile plateforms but let’s face it: Nobody developed Flash Websites for mobiles…

On the contrary, Adobe bought phoneGap last month and clearly turned its strategy to focus on mobile apps (phoneGap AND Air) rather than Flash-based websites for mobiles.

However, this doesn’t mean that they have killed Flash for desktops!  Flash is going to turn into a “shockwave like” technology, more dedicated to 3D than to simple animations.

Mobile development is split in two different parts: Apps and Web.

  • Applications are built either with native or hybrid technologies. Applications are very popular because they are fast, can be used offline. Pure HTML5 for example isn’t robust enough to handle the work for the time being.
  • Web on mobile is built with HTML/javascript.  Again, HTML5 is the future but just can’t handle as many features as Flash or apps for the moment.

So what kind of technology choices do we have for mobile?

Firstly, we have agnostic technologies. By “agnostic”, I mean one source code for several mobile OS. Adobe Air is one of these technologies (just like SUP, Unity, etc), and a good one if you know how to work with it. And… Adobe Air is just a container for Flash/Flex!

Secondly there are hybrid apps, which are typically developed using HTML5/JQuery, with native extensions provided, for example, by Adobe’s phoneGap. Hybrid apps have been recommended by Forrester over native developments (see next point).

Thirdly we have native apps, which in my opinion kill the ability to make applications that work across devices and therefore are not great for the consumer.  It could be justified on rare occasions, for example when you need to use a feature that exists on the hardware, like NFC.

So Flash is dead on mobiles (and TVs), but long live Flash for mobile apps.

PS: You want to use your Flex/Flash talents to develop mobile? Hey, you know what? Adobe has an app for that! ;)

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About the author

Jérôme Lorido
Jérôme Lorido

More than 10 years in web development from Microsoft to Adobe, PHP or webdesign, instructor at l'école des Gobelins d'Annecy for 5 years. Chose this path because it's an endless adventure, always moving, morphing, changing.