Adobe to drop Flash for mobile

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Adobe to drop Flash for mobile

No iOS, webOS or Metro sees the end of Flash saga.

The upcoming Flash Player 11.1 release will be Adobe's last it creates for the two remaining mobile operating systems that support it, Android and BlackBerry PlayBook.

"We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook," Danny Winokur, Adobe's vice president and general manager of interactive development, said Wednesday. 

The decision comes as the fate of one of the key operating systems that did support Flash mobile, webOS - at least when HP's TouchPad was alive - hangs in the balance. 

HP is currently in talks with Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Intel to offload it.

Adobe has persisted with Flash for mobile over the past two years despite Apple's refusal to release a Flash plugin for iOS since the iPhone's 2007 release.  

While smartphones remain a much larger distribution network for Adobe Flash than tablets, Adobe had pinned its hopes for Flash on one of Apple's iPad rivals gaining traction. 

When Jobs in April 2010 launched the iPad and then famously dashed all hope of Flash making it to iOS, Adobe's chief technology officer Kevin Lynch responded defiantly that the vendor was "moving forward" with the forthcoming tablets by HP, Microsoft, RIM and Google. 

"We have already decided to shift our focus away from Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices for both Flash Player and AIR," Lynch said in response to Jobs' criticism that was Flash ill suited to low powered mobile devices. 

"We are working to bring Flash Player and AIR to all the other major participants in the mobile ecosystem, including Google, RIM, Palm (soon to be HP), Microsoft, Nokia and others."  

As the tablets came to market, the availability of a Flash plugin remained a talking point, but its potential fleet of torch bearers have dwindled in recent months.

HP's TouchPad was put down a month after launch, RIM's PlayBook has struggled with slow sales and delays on native email, while Microsoft recently canned Flash in Metro mode for its yet-to-be-released OS, which left Google's Android as the last potential, but as yet insignificant, channel. 

Adobe will now focus on "universally supported" HTML5 and Adobe AIR, the runtime environment that packages native Flash apps for "all the major app stores". 

"HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms," said Winokur.

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