Lessons From the Failure of Flash: Greed Kills

Adobe's decision to stop development of mobile Flash has deservedly gotten a lot of attention online.  It's a sad story for Adobe and Flash developers: a dominating standard on the PC web failed to get traction in mobile, and will now be abandoned gradually in favor of HTML 5.  But the story's not limited to mobile -- without a mobile growth path, I think Flash itself is destined to become a dwindling legacy standard everywhere (link).  I think the whole Flash business edifice is coming down.

How did Flash go from leader to loser?  There are a lot of explanations being floated online. Erica Ogg at GigaOm has a good list (link):

--Mobile flash didn't work very well
--It was opposed by powerful people like Steve Jobs
--It was out-competed by HTML 5

(And by the way, how in the world do you get out-competed by something as slow-moving as HTML 5?)

I agree with Erica, but it's more a list of symptoms than root causes.  It's like saying an airplane crashed because the wings fell off.  Yes, that's true, but why did the wings fall off?  If you look for root causes of the Flash failure, I think they go back many years to a fundamental misreading of the mobile market, and to short-term revenue goals that were more important than long-term strategy at both Macromedia and Adobe.

In other words, Flash didn't just die.  It was managed into oblivion.

The story of Flash is a great cautionary tale for companies that want to create and control software platforms, so it's worth looking at more closely.

A quick, oversimplified history of Flash

In the software world, there is an inherent conflict between setting a broad standard and making money.  If you have good software technology and you're willing to give it away, you can get people to adopt it very broadly, but you will go broke in the process.  On the other hand, if you charge money for your technology, you can stay in business, but it's very hard to get it broadly adopted as a standard because people don't want to lock themselves into paying you.

Clever software companies have long realized that you can work around this conflict by giving away one technology to make it a standard, and then charging for something else related to it.  For example, many open source software companies give away their core product, but charge for hosting and support and other services.  Android is another example -- it's a free operating system for mobile phone manufacturers, but if you use it in your phone Google also tries to coerce you into bundling its services, which extract revenue from your customers. 

In the case of Flash, the player software was given away for free on the web, and Macromedia (the owner of Flash at the time) made its money by selling Flash content development tools.  The free Flash player eventually took on two roles on the web: it was the preferred way to create artistically-sophisticated web content, including an active subculture of online gaming, and it became one of the most popular ways to play video.  Flash reached a point of critical mass where most people felt they just had to have the player installed in their browser.  It became a de facto standard on the web.

Enter Japan Inc., carrying cash.
  The rise of mobile devices changed the situation for Flash.  Long before today's smartphones, with their sophisticated web browsers, Japan was the center of mobile phone innovation, and the dominant player there was NTT DoCoMo, with its proprietary iMode phone platform.  The folks at DoCoMo wanted to create more compelling multimedia experiences for their iMode phones, and so in early 2003 they licensed Macromedia's Flash Lite, the mobile version of Flash, for inclusion in iMode phones (link).

The deal was a breakthrough for Macromedia.  Instead of giving away the flash client, the way it had on the PC, Macromedia could charge for the client, have it forced into the hands of every user, and continue to also make money selling development tools.  The company had found a way to have its cake and eat it too!  In late 2004, the iMode deal was extended worldwide (link), and I'm sure Macromedia had visions of global domination.

Unfortunately for Flash, Japan is a unique phone market, and DoCoMo is a unique operator.  The DoCoMo deal could not be duplicated on most phone platforms other than iMode.  Macromedia, and later Adobe, was now trapped by its own success.  To make Flash Lite a standard in mobile, it would have needed to give away the player, undercutting its lucrative DoCoMo deal.  When you have a whole business unit focused on making money from licensing the player, giving it away would mean missing revenue projections and laying off a lot of people.  Macromedia chose the revenue, and Flash Lite never became a mobile standard.

Without fully realizing it, Macromedia had undermined the business model for Flash itself. The more popular mobile became, the weaker Flash would be.

Enter the modern smartphone.  Jump forward to 2007, when the iPhone and other modern smartphones made full mobile web browsing practical.  Adobe, by now the owner of Flash, was completely unprepared to respond.  Even if it started giving away Flash Lite, the player had been designed for limited-function feature phones and could not duplicate the full PC Flash experience.  Meanwhile, the full Flash player had been designed for PCs; it was too fat to run well on a smartphone.  So the full web had moved to a place where Adobe could not follow.  The ubiquity of the Flash standard was broken by Adobe itself.

To make things worse, Adobe was by then in the midst of a strategy to upgrade Flash into a full programming layer for mobile devices, a project called Apollo (later renamed AIR).  The promise of AIR was to make all operating systems irrelevant by separating them from their applications.  At the time, I thought Adobe's strategy was very clever (link), but the implementation turned out to be woefully slow. 

So here's what Adobe did to itself:  By mismanaging the move to full mobile browsing, it demonstrated that customers were willing to live with a mobile browser that could not display Flash.  Then, by declaring its intent to take over the mobile platform world, Adobe alarmed the other platform companies, especially Apple.  This gave them both the opportunity and the incentive to crush mobile Flash.

Which is exactly what they did.

The lesson: Don't be greedy

There are a couple of lessons from this experience.  The first is that when you've established a free standard, charging money for it puts your whole business at risk.  Contrast the Flash experience to PDF, another standard Adobe established.  Unlike Flash, Adobe progressively gave up more and more control over the PDF standard, to the point where competitors can easily create their own PDF writers, and in fact Microsoft bundles one with Windows Office.  Despite the web community's broad hostility for PDF, it continues to be a de facto standard in computing.  There is no possible way for Adobe to make money directly from the PDF reader, but its Acrobat PDF management and generation business continues to bring in revenue.

The second lesson is that you have to align your business structure with your strategy.  I think Macromedia made a fundamental error by putting mobile Flash into its own business unit.  Adobe continued the error by creating a separate mobile BU when it bought Macromedia (link).  That structure meant the mobile Flash team was forced to make money from the player.  If the player and flash development tools had been in the same BU, management might have at least had a chance to trade off player revenue to grow the tools business.

What can Adobe do now?

The Adobe folks say the discontinuation of mobile flash is just an exercise in focus (link).  They point out that developers can still create apps using Flash and compile them for mobile devices, and that Flash is still alive on the desktop.  Viewed from the narrow perspective of the situation that Adobe faces in late 2011, the changes to Flash probably are prudent.  But judged against Adobe's promise to create an "an industry-defining technology platform" when it bought Macromedia in 2005 (link), it's hard to call the current situation anything other than a failure.

I think it's clear that Flash as a platform is dying; the end of the mobile Flash player has disillusioned many of its most passionate supporters.  You can hear them cussing here and here. Flash compatibility will continue to live on in AIR and other web content development tools, of course, but now that Adobe doesn't control the player, I think it will have trouble giving its tools any particular advantage.

What Adobe should do is start contributing aggressively to HTML 5, to upgrade it into the full web platform that AIR was originally supposed to be.  That's a role no one in the industry has taken ownership of, web developers are crying out for it, and Adobe implies that's what it will do.  But I've heard these broad statements from Adobe before, and usually the implementation has fallen far short of the promises.  At this point, I doubt Adobe has the vision and agility to pull it off.  Most likely it will retreat to what it has always been at the core: a maker of software tools for artistically-inclined creative people.  It's a nice stable niche, but it's nothing like the dominant leadership role that Adobe once aspired to.


Anonymous said...

The lesson: Don't be greedy. Apple needs to learn this. Apple is losing out on marketshare, by overhyping overpriced crappy trinkets that go out of fashion.

MV Red Head said...

As an Flash/ActionSctipt/Air developer for multiple years on both desktop and mobile, I think you really missed the point. You're not the only one - I've been shocked at the jump to conclusions that many have made on this over the last 2 days.

It makes no sense running a Flash app inside a mobile browser. In the mobile world, you want to be able to do more mobile-specific things - GPS, multitouch, autorotation, etc. You can't get access to those things inside a browser. Instead, users want apps in an app store.

Does it really matter which toolset created the app? Air is just a tool. I like it because it gives me an iOS, Android, Mac, and PC product with the same code base. It allows for advanced user interfaces without having to code in Objective C for one platform and .Net in another. There just isn't another environment that delivers on the multiplatform capabilities as consistently as Flash/etc.

Would it surprise you to know that some of the most popular iPad games in the app store were written with Flash/Air? Why does it matter to anyone but the developer which tools were actually used to craft the final code?

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the comment, Paws. I don't necessarily disagree with you, actually. Adobe has an interesting development tools story. I don't know how well it will work when Adobe no longer controls the runtime environment, but I hope it will succeed.

My point was that Flash/AIR as a platform strategy has failed. Adobe paid $3.4 billion for Macromedia in order to create the next great platform, not to buy a tool chain.

k.mun said...

A great post Michael! I agree that Adobe's aspiration to create an over-the-top 'platform' on mobile has largely been evaporated, but having a tool chain business is not a bad niche. It remains to be seen how successful Adobe will be in context of native platform tool chains (i.e., Microsoft's, Apple's, etc.)

Tatil said...

I did not know about the different business model Adobe took regarding Flash Lite. Thanks for your write up...

Regarding multi-platform tools: Yes, Adobe may be the only one offering such tools, but the apps that come out of such tools are usually of lower quality than what could be done with the native development tools unless the app is not all that different than a simple web app. It is fairly noticeable by the end users. The interface (buttons etc.) is usually a dead give away.

Developers also need to wait until Adobe adopts the new features of an OS before they can utilize them. In turn, there is not much incentive for Adobe to move until all or most Mobile OSes implement such features. iOS, Android and WP are being developed and adopted by the public at a rapid pace, unlike the desktop world. (Who upgrades a desktop OS? Most of the installed base stays where it is.) Adobe's tools have their uses, but, I suspect, not for the high end developer market. That may not be a bad business for Adobe, but it will not have a leadership position.

Walt French said...

In 2007, it was obvious that the iPhone was woefully underpowered versus Flash (and other!) requirements. Adobe was hardly the only shop that turned up its nose at the toy. (That continues to this day.) So I had always presumed that Adobe had NO intention of continuing Lite, and set their alarm for a 365 day snooze, even coming to the same conclusion in 2008.

I don't think Adobe realized the growth path for mobile until sometime very roughly (I'm not privy to anything resembling inside info; just going by appearances) end of 08. NOW there was a problem. The iPhone of that era STILL had a paltry RAM budget (I've seen Flash use more on my laptop than is free after a clean start on an iPhone 3G), but the demand was building. Now Adobe was frustrated, and when Jobs translated the iPhone's tight specs into “Flash doesn't fit mobile,” Adobe lashed out, and the flame wars began.

“The first casualty is truth” appears to have obscured the business models you discuss so much better than I was envisioning: the Flash revenue model was doing OK, but the cost model was exploding with the need to do intricate engineering, in ultra-rapid development cycles, on dozens of variants of CPU, GPU, graphics drivers… NONE of which have enough power/depth as you need.

Free Flash players can work OK if you only have a variant or three for Windows, plus a “nobody-cares-too-much” version for Mac and a “tough luck, guys” version for Unix. BlackBerry 5, QNX, Android multiple versions, WM, WP7, iOS v 3/4/5, Symbian… it was obviously spiraling out of control.

So I had seen it not so much greed, but rather a war footing with Apple (bad blood that went back a decade and was pretty institutionalized) that kept Adobe from realizing where the industry — not just Apple — was moving.

Thanks for a useful review.

Oh, BTW: Android phones are enough of a critical mass, and Google must have the source code to the Flash player, that I expect Google to be pretty aggressive about continuing support, even implementing the aggressively intense 3D features recently announced.

jason @ Voip said...

Interesting your comment of "Don't Be Greedy" considering that that is exactly what Apple and Google are being at the moment, trying to be the be all and end all of the media world!

Will they learn from this?

I won't hold my breath!

Anonymous said...

Minor fact-check: Microsoft does not bundle a PDF writer with Windows. It has PDF export as part of Office. that's the only PDF.

mesh said...

--What Adobe should do is start contributing aggressively to HTML 5, to upgrade it into the full web platform that AIR was originally supposed to be. That's a role no one in the industry has taken ownership of, web developers are crying out for it, and Adobe implies that's what it will do.

I completely agree with you on this, and this is exactly what Adobe has begun to do

We are actively contributing specifications to the w3c, and implementations to webkit.

Most recently this has included:

CSS Regions

and CSS Shaders (originally in the Flash Player)

We are also working on tooling for creating HTML5, including projects like Wallaby, and Adobe Edge.

We recently acquired PhoneGap, which provides a web / HTML based platform for creating applications.

mike chambers


Tony Fleming said...

Adobe was only really doing what they knew and what got them there. They developed an approach and process They once owned the Desktop publishing industry by leveraging Postscript and through their purchase of Aldus' Pagemaker.
Then they won over the Desktop Illustration and Design industry by buying up little know BarneyScan and turning it into Photoshop. Eventually they swooped up Macromedia and saw Flash as their new Postscript and of course they applied their thrice successful business model, but it didn't work this time. The rest is still playing out.

Michael Mace said...

Anonymous, thank you for the correction. I fixed the post.

Mike Chambers wrote:

>>I completely agree with you on this, and this is exactly what Adobe has begun to do

Thanks for commenting, Mike. An interesting question for Adobe will be how deeply you guys choose to support HTML 5. I don't mean depth of integration in your product lines, I mean how deep is your commitment to do whatever it takes to make HTML 5 successful?

To quote Sean Connery from The Untouchables, "What are you prepared to do?"

Giving HTML 5 graphical features that take advantage of your tools is a fine thing, and very logical. But there's also a lot of other thinking and infrastructure, not related to graphics, that HTML 5 needs in order to be more like a full development platform.

Right now no one in the industry is taking responsibility for making those things happen. Adobe has the size, technical skills, and visibility to do it. It would be in your interest, since closed platforms are inherently unfriendly to Adobe's tools. But will Adobe step up to that leadership role?

What are you prepared to do?

mesh said...

To quote Sean Connery from The Untouchables, "What are you prepared to do?"

Giving HTML 5 graphical features that take advantage of your tools is a fine thing, and very logical. But there's also a lot of other thinking and infrastructure, not related to graphics, that HTML 5 needs in order to be more like a full development platform.

Well, for starters, we are prepared to shift resources from Flash to HTML5 efforts (which we announced this week).

As far as what areas of HTMl5 we work on, given our history of creative tooling for creative designers and developers, we feel we are uniquely position to push forward graphical and expressive features in HTML5. We are focusing a lot of efforts in this area.

We are working on other, non-designer areas, such as working with the jquery team on adding touch support to jQuery.

But, in general, we are open to contributing to HTML5 / CSS3 / WebKit wherever we can made an impact.

mike chambers


Anonymous said...

Anon says:

"The lesson: Don't be greedy. Apple needs to learn this. Apple is losing out on marketshare,"

Let's pause a moment after we are done laughing here. Done? Ok, lets move on:

"by overhyping overpriced crappy trinkets that go out of fashion."

I suppose by going out of fashion you mean 'making the most desirable, fashionable consumer electronic designs in the entire world.

BTW, you have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid for moment to realize that for many of their products (iPhone, iPad, MBA), there are simply no competitors that can deliver the same fit, finish, and user experience at the price Apple is offering them at. Apple is killing it design-wise, OS-wise, build quality-wise, and price-wise for many product categories.

Unfortunately for Adobe, Apple realized something they didn't (but now do). They weren't needed. Their product would have only detracted *overall* from what Apple was offering, -not enhanced it.

I hope that Adobe can be the active advocate for HTML5 that the standard stands to benefit from. Large institutional direction and 'ownership' of the health and development of the platform would be welcome, but something tells me that they just aren't going to step up to the plate. I hope I'm wrong.

Unknown said...

No, no, just no. You got it all wrong.

There is ONLY 1 REASON why Flash died many years ago: They got sloppy. They were lazy. They lied on their laurels.

Anonymous said...


I read the entire article and all of the comments and not one word about the real reason Flash sucked and went belly up... SECURITY, people. Adobe intentionally built Flash to give marketers, advertisers complete access to user data without user knowledge or consent. Every time you load Flash, your CPU is commandeered in servicing the data theft of Adobe's approved "partners."

The user was always bottom of the heap on Adobe's list of partners. It's a scummy, scammy company and no doubt they are hard at work developing ways for HTML5 to also leech data and system resources. It's not Flash. It's the amoral company culture of Adobe. They're dirty.

The syphilitic whore known as Flash may be off the streets, but the whorehouse is still open for business.

Anonymous said...

A long article with all the wrong conclusions. The obvious answer for why Flash died has nothing to do with mobile.

It's this: The plugin model is outdated. The whole idea of needing a plugin to do much of anything on the web is dying. PDFs can now be read natively in the browser. Movies can be viewed natively in the browser. Music can be heard natively in the browser.

Flash is a holdover from a different time, and so it died.

Anonymous said...

What an embarrassing post: " It was a fairly efficient way to play video (and so it was heavily adopted by video streaming sites), ...."

Flash video is a relatively new thing, how old are you? 15?

Michael Mace said...

Thanks, you're right. That was sloppy on my part. I fixed the paragraph in question.

I should never try to write an oversimplified history of anything.

Anonymous said...

I think theres alot of over simplification here. So Ill go even more simpler. The lack of flash on the iPhone killed it. Had they had ONE platform, a major one where flash worked, they could have fork lifted the rest of the mobile platforms over time. But their crale got robbed because they had no idea how fast Apple was moving internally and couldnt keep up.

I think theres another issue as well. Given adobes failure, I have serious doubts as to whether flash is even technically viable on mobile platforms.

It costs adobe huge amounts of money just to support flash on windows, OSX and linux.

Extrapolate that to a ridiculous amount of commodity mobile hardware that makes up the android hardware platform. I doubt anyone could support with OS level support, a native app on so many hardware devices that ran well if it ran at all.

Noone has those kind of resources and flash operates at too low an OS level to be useful in such an environment. The CPU cant do it, theres not enough RAM, the video chip cant handle it, and adobe cant develop it.

Also with a smaller screen, what is flash really worth on a phone? I mean a flash animation on a phone is really nothing more than an animated gif. It has no impact, its just a super heavyweight thing killing your phone for no real value.

Adobe made the right decision. I dont agree with your market analysis but it was square peg round whole all the way. If they gave it away it would not have mattered. There is no IT. Mobile flash simply doesnt exist.

Andrew said...

You also neglected to mentioned the piss-poor quality of Flash on Mac and Linux...eventually the two platforms most used by people who were developing for the web.

Haugen Hamlet said...

"It's like saying an airplane crashed because the wings fell off."

This is a really dumb analogy. Airplane wings don't fall off.

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the comments, everybody. This is a very interesting discussion. I don't think I've ever had a post produce so many mutually exclusive opinions.

I don't know what that says about Flash. Maybe it is/was screwed up in a number of ways, or maybe it just polarizes people. I've always felt that Flash tended to make people passionate -- either passionately enthusiastic among the Flash power users, or passionately angry among the Flash detractors.

Charbax said...

Flash works on Android, and will continue to work on Android, as well as 2 Billion other computers out there. What Adobe needs to do is simply to open source Flash and make it licence-free, and then concentrate on HTML5 because everyone knows, especially Adobe, that HTML5 is the future. But that does not escape the fact that 200 million websites have Flash elements in them and thus it makes no sense for all devices not to support it. Technology means you can support more than one format, it's totally stupid to think it's better to support less features in software.

Supporting more features just means adding a bit of software code to a platform, it does not have to slow anything down, the resources of a device to display such things as video, animations, interactive elements, that is going to require as much resources as programmed with HTML5 or anything else.

davesmall said...

Very interesting article on Flash and Greed. Some of the reader comments are as insightful as the article itself.

I think the larger problem with Flash is a fundamental difference between companies like Apple and Microsoft, who want to differentiate their environments from competitors, versus Adobe who wants to empower developers to create cross-platform products that make the operating system irrelevant.

Jamie Lemon said...

IMO: Adobe should've somehow done a bespoke flash phone years ago. Developers could have had a lot of fun with that. Flash/AIR as a tool to develop native iOS, Android, Windows Apps is always going to mean serious platform compromise. The best Apps use native SDK language - thats just the way it is.

Flash has also been notably dead on the web ( apart from flash advertising banners ) for over a year.

Its a great tool for experimental prototyping and the vector graphics engine rocks ( how to replicate that in HTML 5 ? )

Anyway, like old friends ..., sometimes you just have to say thanks, goodbye, and move on ...

Anonymous said...

“Supporting more features just means adding a bit of software code to a platform …”

Exactly. Dude, have you ever written any kind of software of non-trivial complexity?

Anonymous said...

Astute implication of the affect that different Biz Units / P&Ls have on decision making. Hewlett Packard for years ran Inkjet with supplies separate from printers. Once combined into one group by Carly, price of a nicely profitable print cartridge went from $35 to $55, and innovation by both groups died. Maybe it wasn't combining the groups, but I was there and thought that this was a major factor.

If Adobe can position AIR as a means to develop good apps for Window, MacOS, iOS, and Android this will be a great thing. By this I mean that AIR can compile down to native apps for each OS much like it does today for iOS. Sure, as some have pointed out, the best GUI / UX will be done with pure native dev, but there is are tons and tons of applications that sell because of functionality, not GUI / UX. Examples: Quicken (consumer), and EVERY ENTERPRISE APP I'VE EVER SEEN.

So get to it Adobe. Let me code once, and tell my enterprise customers, "No problem, we support every device your folks are using. (Nice to add Linux to that list, but not mandatory.)

Irina Petculescu said...

Great article.

Although I can think of at least 2 more factors that gradually brought Flash down. And they have nothing to do with Macromedia/Adobe mismanaging their product.

1. CSS3 and jQuery.
2. more and more need for SEO . Which implies constantly growing and changing content.

Still, I think Flash will stick around for quite a while as video embedding standard for non-mobile. At least until browser-guys will finally come to some 1-2 common universally supported video formats. And this ain't going to happen soon.

Besides, if Adobe Edge takes off, why would we need Flash anymore?:)

epobirs said...

Of course, Flash would never have had a market in the first place if the W3C didn't move at such a glacial pace. There is stuff in HTML 5 that should have been done in the 90s. The decade+ time span for getting some important functions standardized is absurd.

Joel said...

Great post. I agree the lesson is don't be greedy. Adobe in particular has always had a problem with this as any PostScript licensee/OEM will tell you.

In some ways the Macromedia buyout was a misguided attempt to create a platform and dominate the market with Flash far beyond that of PostScript/PDF.

I feel Adobe made a great strategic error and has wasted too many resources to recover. After a few years I don't think they won't be around as an independent company.

John said...

Having been the first product manager for Adobe Reader for Palm OS, Pocket PC (Windows Mobile / Phone), Symbian OS and SDK for ACCESS for NTT DoCoMo and also having worked formerly in the Mobile & Devices Business Unit (MDBU) on a prototype Flash Lite and FlashCast service, I think you are spot on inregards to the NTT DoCoMo ecosystem Adobe was trying to extend beyond Japan with high licensing fees per handset, and revenue sharing on Flash Cast.

Your analysis on the MDBU separate business unit is also spot on.

Anonymous said...

Flash failed because Apple was not interested in building products with high specs and lots of RAM, which was contrary to Apple's low cost-low specs-high hype high profit business strategy. Apple's products are never sporting the fastest processors not the biggest RAMs coz they are too expensive and make big dent on profits.

K said...

Adobe can certainly try to contribute to HTML5 but it is the browser vendors in general and one individual in particular (he who shall not be named) who controls the HTML5 spec at the moment. So, even if Adobe can innovate in this space, it is reliant on Google, Microsoft, Apple and so on who have their own agendas...

Tatil said...

> I think adobe had the right idea but the
> wrong execution.
What was the right idea?

HappyHopper said...

The primary reason Flash was successful in the first place, was that it offered a cohesive/uniform(across browsers, Win/Mac/Linux), and frequently-updated(tons of features added every major release).

That helped get around this thing where we had IE, Netscape, etc offering different feature-sets, different sorts of bugs and quirks with each platform.

My question is, has that basic need/vacume that Flash thrived in, completely been filled? Is there going to be no fragmentation with HTML5, no conflicting interests and vendors like Microsoft with entrenched browser market-shares sabotaging web-standards committees and everything?

In phones and mobile devices that are completely hardware-locked onto one vendor(like "micro-computers" were in the 80's), that severely fragmented landscape is a nightmare to develop. Can't there be something better than J2ME, that has that level of reach across all those platforms?

Personally, I liked Adobe under Bruce Chizen better. Under Shantanu Narayen, everything seems over-managed, way too much marketing jargon bloat on their site these days, makes it hard to even understand stuff.

sell my cell phone said...

The problem with the cellular data market as it's structured today is that it often hides from users the real cost of the network.

Anonymous said...

We spent a large amount of time and money building a great flash based app. Not long after completing it Apple (Steve Jobs) declared Flash finished. Everything was going to be html5.

Fine we thought we can go with that. We can swallow the wasted dev costs running to 30k. Painful, but we can do it.

But in turns out that html5 is nowhere near being a replacement. Its slow moving with no real standards. Showcasing some simple transitions just doesn't cut it.

So here we are in limbo, waiting for something that could take years to arrive....or are we missing something here.

Is Air an alternative?

Chui Tey said...

In any competitive ecosystem, Adobe misjudged the viability of licensing flash, just as Sun misjudged the viability of licensing the J2ME runtime to Android.

I'm reminded of the pithy "what's the product?". Facebook doesn't charge users because users are the product. Similarly, Sun was giving away tools for free because developers and ecosystem were the product. Google was able to circumvent Sun's gatekeeper status because Google had sufficient geek cred. Apple was cleverer, it turned the appstore into a product, selling to developers what is essentially a lottery to make money, and doing sufficient PR to keep developers interested.

Alas, Adobe has to create a market - Developers, audience and devices. It had none of the three. I believe they had failed to recognize that, and simply went for a business model that had the highest potential revenue, and in doing so, lost out on the fastest growing segment in technology.