Steve Jobs' Latest Victory

It's a shame that Steve Jobs just barely missed his latest victory. He would have been beamingly proud of Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) recent announcement that it is ditching Flash development in mobile devices.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) has been waging a high-profile war on Flash for years, despite its widespread dominance on popular websites. The first skirmish was when the original iPhone in 2007 lacked Flash compatibility, and while Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen had said in 2008 that it was working on compatibility internally, that obviously never came to fruition. Apple added insult to injury when the iPad in 2010 similarly excluded Flash support.

Jobs had written an open letter, which is still available on Apple's website, on why Apple felt so strongly. He outlined six primary reasons for his hatred of the platform, including its proprietary nature and its lack of reliability, security, and performance. Jobs added that Apple knows firsthand that Flash was the No. 1 reason that Macs crash. Its power inefficiency adversely affects battery life for mobile devices, and it was never meant for touch interface.

He concluded with what he considered the most important reason: developers. Flash was another third-party layer of software between developers and users, one that's flawed and that they should not have to depend on to distribute content.

Jobs' points were soon validated after Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) joined in the derision and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) also voiced its opposition, despite including Android compatibility.

Well, the war on mobile Flash is over, and Flash lost. Adobe is ceasing development on mobile devices as well as televisions. In its place, Adobe is now strongly supporting the standard that Apple, Microsoft, and Google have long been advocating for: HTML5. Adobe now concedes that HTML5 is the "best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms," as it is "universally supported on major mobile devices."

Oddly, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) is deciding to go it alone and will not only continue to support the abandoned platform but will also keep developing it, since it licenses the source code from Adobe. As if we needed any more proof that RIM is falling behind the times, this one is a freebie.

Well done, Steve. Even though you've passed on to the other side, you're still shaping technology .

To stay updated on the Flash drama, add the company to our free My Watchlist service:

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, creating a diagonal call position in Adobe Systems, and creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 12:16 AM, lucasmonger wrote:

    Blaircrow, Steve didn't cause Flash's demise. Adobe did a fine job all by themselves. Buggy mobile code, missed deadlines, power consumption through the roof. When the Motorola Xoom was released, the media jumped all over the flash problems. The bottom line here, Steve was right and Adobe was wrong. The flash platform is fine when you have lots of CPU power plugged into the wall, but on a phone, it's an entirely different story. Just go buy an android device that still has flash and use it for awhile... you'll change your tone.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 1:31 AM, marv08 wrote:

    I don't quite think it's correct to talk about Jobs' "hatred" for Flash. He always tried to come up with the most trouble-free and reliable devices. And they figured that highest standards and Flash do not play well together (for the reasons outlined in his open letter). This is a reasonable and sound decision, not hatred. And his facts were all correct. Adobe has been unable (despite 5 years of empty promises) to come up with one single instance of Flash Player for mobile devices (or Macs, or Linux) that does not suck, stutter and crash. And I think Jobs would have never published that letter, if it weren't for all the badmouthing and campaigning from Adobe's liars in chief (from Brimelow to Nack).

    Adobe is a group of hypocrites. They were supporting open vector standards (namely SVG) when Flash was still the property of Macromedia. If they would have stayed with that, they would smell like a rose today and they would sell all the tools required to produce compliant web sites. Instead, they paid far too much for Macromedia and concentrated a huge amount of product updates in the last years to add some Flash gimmicks to each and every other product they make. And now it is going away. Killing the mobile version is just the start. In the long run, no webmaster will want to maintain two websites, especially since the amount of desktop browsing is going down and mobile is going up.

    I would also not call it "Steve Jobs' Latest Victory". All internet users have won, now that this garbage is off the table.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2011, at 1:42 AM, dregstudios wrote:

    Visionaries like Steve Jobs reveal the true secret to the Universe in that nothing is impossible with time, perseverance, and positive visualization. Such a passion for furthering human communication inspires. His legacy will survive generations with names like Edison, Tesla as the greatest inventors and visionaries of all time. As an artist, I draw from these inspirations and advancements in my work and you may enjoy my recent portrait of Mr. Jobs, now In Memoriam at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/08/end-of-era-steve-...

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