Adobe abandons work on Flash plug-in for mobile devices

Image caption,
The Flash mobile plug-in offered Android tablets a feature missing from Apple's iPad

Software developer Adobe Systems is halting development of its Flash Player plug-in for mobile devices.

The multimedia software is used to run movies, games and other applications.

Adobe says it now believes the alternative HTML 5 technology offers the "best solution" because it is "universally supported".

The Flash plug-in works on Android devices and Blackberry's Playbook tablet, but Apple barred it from iPhones and iPads.

"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," a statement published on Adobe's blog says.

"We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations."

Adobe adds that it will still support third party Flash developers who use its Air product to package their software for various app stores.


In April 2010 Apple's late former chief executive, Steve Jobs, attacked Flash's mobile plug-in for being unreliable, a security threat and a drain on battery life.

Adobe responded shortly after saying the plug-in would "continue to be the dominant tool" for media on the internet.

However, reviewers criticised its performance on other devices, and in September Microsoft also announced it would not support the product on the tablet interface of its upcoming Windows 8 browser.

"It was a battery hog and cumbersome - those are two negative things to have on a mobile device," said Colin Gillis, senior tech analyst at BGC Partners.

"Steve Jobs helped shift the whole industry to HTML 5, and 40 million iPads later it turned out that Flash wasn't a selling point as many supposed."

Job cuts

The news comes a day after Adobe revealed plans to axe 750 posts as part of an effort to place more focus on digital media and digital marketing.

The cuts are being made in Europe and North America and represent more than 7% of the company's workforce.

The news was timed to coincide with its annual analysts' meeting.

"It will affect their revenues, but not by a huge amount. The Flash player for mobile is a product that is either given away for free or given away to device makers for a small royalty," said Chris Green, technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe.

"The real money is for the server technology. Adobe charges thousands of dollars per licence. However, since so much of our internet use is now on mobile devices, it does questions the long-term viability of Flash full stop."

Shares in Adobe fell close to 12% on Wall Street in morning trade.

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