The past few hours have made things look pretty grim for Adobe employees and mobile Flash users alike. On one hand, 750 Adobe employees in North America and Europe will receive the pink slip. For Flash users on Android and RIM's PlayBook devices that support Flash content in web pages, the layoffs are connected to another decision made by Adobe today: development on the Flash plugins will effectively cease, according to a statement made to ZDNet (via The Verge) by sources close to Adobe:
Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.
A couple of years ago, it was clear Adobe and Apple were at odds over adapting web content to mobile devices. Apple remained stubborn in their resolve to get HTML5 content pushed as an alternative to Flash. The late Steve Jobs made his thoughts clear on this topic last April in an open letter titled "Thoughts on Flash."
With this latest move, it appears both Adobe and Apple are now on the same page, with Adobe promising more investments in generating HTML5 content for the Web.
For mobile Flash users, it's good to know they'll still get fixes for serious vulnerabilities for at least the near future. For other sites, they would be wise to adapt new technologies offered in the HTML5 specification, which fortunately the major browser vendors are openly embracing.
The only real loser in this scenario may be, well, RIM. After all, they touted Flash support as a major selling point in their television ads earlier this year. Surely they may need to do more with their recent attempt to push sales.