Adobe’s Flash is making a comeback despite the petulance of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Adobe is rising because of AIR and Flash. Can you imagine such a turnaround? 9 months after being pilloried unmercifully [and unjustifiably] by Mr. America Innovates, Adobe’s Flash is staging a huge comeback. One can see it in the many design-wins in the hot markets for smartphones and tablets created by Steve Jobs. Android, RIM, and all the other major smartphone and tablet players are embracing Flash because it gives them a compelling competitive advantage against Apple. Steve’s iDevices appeared to be in an insurmountable lead with nearly 300,000 apps for their iPhone and 30,000 geared for the iPad. But Steve has been wrong on several fronts regarding Flash:
1)First Apple appears to be primarily responsible for poor Flash performance in Mac OS X and iOS systems. Late delivery by Apple of 64bit and GPU accelerator APIs to Adobe are part of the problem. But as this link shows, Apple software developers have not been able,on identically the same hardware, to deliver nearly the same video and Flash graphics performance that Microsoft has delivered in Windows. And the announcement that RIM is incorporating Flash and AIR as a key part of its Playbook’ tablet, underlines the performance and reliability complaints by Steve Jobs as being badly misplaced.
2)By ignoring Flash, Apple has given to its competitor hundreds of thousands of nearly instant-on apps. And so Android, RIM and other mobile developers are turning to Flash for all of the reason cited here.
3)By Jobs saying that Flash and AIR lacked multi-touch, offline and multi-media capabilities and then have Adobe turn on a dime and deliver those in Adobe AIR 2.5 and Flash, the question of timely delivery of state of the art UI features in Flash is eliminated.
4)Jobs has been trying to avoid what the market is demanding – cross platform app development. Steve banned not only Flash but also Java. These ostensibly did not meet Apple’s high development standards. But in fact, Apple is trying to establish a Windows-like development strangle-hold on the mobile and tablet markets with proprietary development methods and tools. But organizations and developers, confronted with the prospect of having to develop as many 4-9 versions of the same basic application are looking for cross platform and highly interoperable tools. Flash+Air is the leading software in this Rich Anywhere Interface Application-RAIA development tool market.
Adobe AIR – the best cross platform RAIA -Rich Anywhere Interface App tool?
The net result is that aspiring smartphone and tablet vendors are flocking to Flash. And the results for Android based smartphones has been spectacular as Android phones from Motorola, HTC, Samsung and others have collectively run up a smartphone market share larger than Apples iPhone.
Consider reason (4) as one of the most compelling in favor of Adobe. Organizations and developers are already behind the 8-ball in keeping up with existing organizational apps. And now they are being told to innovate and deliver new apps as well. But innovation on the client side means having to maintain a number of very different versions of the same applications. Thus, cross platform apps that work on mobile, smartphone , tablets, and desktops are again a developer’s holy grail. And Adobe Flash+AIR is one of the better tools for delivering high functionality and speedy apps that run on the major mobile OS as well as Linux, Mac OS/X and Windows. Adobe AIR also adds online and offline operation to the mix.
HTML5, which has been anointed by Steve Jobs as his cross platform tool of choice, is wracked by two major problems. First, there is little agreement in standards definitions for the vital multi-touch operations, offline operation, and Web database sub-projects. In addition, the current browsers are quite fragmented in their support of HTML5. No browser scores better than 66% complete on the current HTML5 standards.Even the new Microsoft IE9 barely passes a third of the HTML5 tests.
So with Flash+AIR, Adobe jumps back into the lead on RAIA-Rich Anywhere Interface Applications. But this market race has been so volatile its hard to predict a winner. Who would have thought that Microsoft, with its huge Windows base, would stick defiantly to a highly proprietary codebase and all but miss the markets turn to mobile+tablets? So Adobe is making a big comeback; but for how long is still in the AIR.