Adobe Lays Off 750 in Wake of Decision to Kill Mobile Flash
Roughly a year and a half after Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs’ open and very frank letter discussing Apple’s decision to not support Flash on mobile devices, Adobe has thrown in the towel. The company has ceased development of mobile Flash and is now turning its efforts to HTML5, to the tune of 750 jobs. Here’s the scoop …
Adobe attested to its new focus for Q4 2011 in a news release, which also laid out plans for layoffs:
In order to better align resources around Digital Media and Digital Marketing, Adobe is restructuring its business. This will result in the elimination of approximately 750 full-time positions primarily in North America and Europe.
One day later, Adobe announced it will “more aggressively contribute” to creating technology that fosters the development of the HTML5 standard. In its official blog, Adobe noted this also means dropping support for Mobile Flash:
Over the past two years, we’ve delivered Flash Player for mobile browsers and brought the full expressiveness of the web to many mobile devices. However, 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. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.
Why the change of heart? It’s not exactly clear, but reception to mobile Flash has been less than stellar. Many times — even on modern devices — it can freeze or crash a browser window.
But perhaps Adobe sees HTML5 as a real opportunity to carve out a place of its own. Adobe makes money on tools and software, not plug-ins. In that respect, Adobe has the unique resources and capabilities to develop more fully featured creative and developmental tools that make building HTML5 sites easier and less time-consuming, maybe even dropping the learning curve for new developers — and maybe even making it as easy to develop for Flash.
Flash hasn’t gone away, of course. It will — and continue to — exist on the regular desktop computing platform. But the question is, for how long? As a growing number of computer users turn to tablets for their computing needs, will Flash become less relevant? I think so. This could be the beginning of the end of Flash as we know it, but it could also mark a new day for Adobe if it re-calibrates its compass and sets a course for the open web.