There are a few cliche phrases I could employ just now that would communicate how unlikely I thought this news would be… but it’s true. Adobe has released their Flash Media Server 4.5 that will repackage Flash content as HTML 5, allowing it to display on iOS devices. It would appear this is game and match for Apple.
It is an important distinction that this doesn’t mean iOS devices now support Flash. But it does show a concession coming from the Adobe side of the court, where they have previously held firm. But with the support and adoption of HTML 5 showing no signs of slowing down, they need to do something if they don’t want to be antiquated in a hurry.
This announcement has me wondering if Adobe has finally realized that we don’t need Flash, it’s a question of whether we want Flash.
Many have accused Apple of trying to bully Adobe into a move like this, but I believe the opposite is true. Adobe has a history of playing the domineering role and as a result has failed in many ways to evolve with emerging technologies.
Historically, Flash content has been optional content. It’s the animation, the entertainment and the feature pieces, not the meat of a site. But moving forward, dynamic web sites are expected and required and can be achieved with Flash, HTML 5, or something else entirely.
Either way, this seems like the best of both worlds. Anybody using iOS based devices will have access to Flash content, but no modifications to Flash are required. This means existing Flash content should port smoothly and not having Flash actually installed on iOS means no concerns over battery life or system stability.
Is this too little too late? Will developers abandon Flash as a whole and move entirely to HTML 5? Or is this a meaningful enough move by Adobe to encourage Flash development to continue without excluding those individuals using iOS based devices?