Flash set for mobile exit

Today is the day Flash for mobile effectively dies. As revealed by Adobe in June, August 15 was set as the date the company would “use the configuration settings in the Google Play Store to limit continued access to Flash Player updates to only those devices that have Flash Player already installed”. Any devices lacking a Flash Player install subsequently won’t be able to do so. Adobe also warned at the time that newer devices using Android 4.1 may exhibit unpredictable behaviour should they continue to run the plug-in, and Adobe’s recommendation is to uninstall it.

The Flash-for-mobile battle was fought over a number of years, largely over Apple’s reluctance to allow plug-ins for the iOS version of Safari, and competitors therefore using Flash as a differentiator to the likes of the iPhone and iPad. Then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs outlined his problems with Flash in 2010, arguing it was proprietary and caused problems with reliability, security and performance relating to responsiveness and battery life.

Jobs’s argument was to embrace web standards, and while Adobe at the time countered and argued for co-existence of HTML5 and Flash, it eventually repositioned Flash as a technology for PC browsing and mobile apps. Last year, designer and developer Aral Balkan told .net he believed this was the strategy Adobe should have followed from the beginning.

Although Flash’s removal from mobile will be a shot in the arm for web standards on mobile and welcomed by developers, users again lose out. On the Google Play Adobe Flash Player 11 page, one user complained that he bought an Android device so he could use Flash; another considered Adobe’s decision “commercial suicide”; a third said he could no longer watch videos using Flash Player after updating to the latest version of Android. On the last of those points, BBC iPlayer is one such service that currently lacks a non-Flash solution for Android, although BBC News stated the company is working on a solution.

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