In November of last year, Adobe made a surprising about-face on its popular Flash plugin, announcing that it would stop development of Flash for mobile devices. Today, Adobe will disable new installs of Flash on Android, effectively cutting it off from the future of the mobile web — despite the company's historical assertion that Flash would enable the "full web experience" on mobile devices. Instead, Adobe surrendered the major mobile battlegrounds and pledged allegiance to HTML5.
Adobe, 2007: With Flash, "we've passed a major milestone in bringing a desktop experience to mobile and transforming the wireless industry."
Adobe had grand plans for mobile Flash, but the company met a sizable early wall when Apple refused to adopt it. Despite the company's push to get Flash on all platforms with its Open Screen Project, it never solved iOS support under Steve Jobs, who famously fought against Flash in favor of HTML5. Adobe never really had a chance with iOS, but it faltered where it did have a chance — on Android. Despite attempts at marketing and Android integration, Adobe withdrew from Android, shutting it out of roughly 85 percent of the mobile market. And the final nail in Flash's coffin may be from Microsoft, which only plans to offer limited Flash support in Windows 8. As one Adobe project manager said last year, Flash "was not going to achieve the same ubiquity on mobile that it has on the desktop."
Adobe, 2010: "Adobe, Google, and other members of the Open Screen Project are working together to make sure the full web experience can be delivered on the largest possible number of devices."
Adobe, 2011: HTML5 is the "best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms."
Adobe, of course, is not giving up by any means: the company's roadmap includes plans to focus on gaming and "premium video," and the company will continue to support Flash on PCs. Still, it's hard to imagine Flash's ongoing relevance in a world that's increasingly mobile, and Adobe's support for HTML5 doesn't bode well for the plugin: in a web with increasingly less Flash, HTML5 will soon provide the "full web experience" for most users. But hey — at least Flash still has one admirer in the mobile world.