This Steve Jobs Victory Is Now Complete

It was just a matter of time.

Evan Niu
Evan Niu, CFA
Jul 2, 2012 at 12:00AM

On the eve of the iPhone's fifth birthday, Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) officially pulled the plug on Flash for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android.

In five short years, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) catalyzed the death of a technology that dates to 1996. FutureWare Software originally came up with the technology before it was acquired by Macromedia that year and was rebranded as Macromedia Flash 1.0. Nearly a decade later, Adobe would acquire Macromedia in all-stock deal worth $3.4 billion.

Just two years later, Apple would famously exclude Flash support for its iDevices, starting with the iPhone. It wasn't until the iPad was launched in 2010 that the high-profile spat would reach epic proportions, citing numerous reasons for the decision in an open letter, the most important of which being that Steve Jobs didn't want a layer of third-party software between the iOS platform and developers that would only inhibit innovation. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) soon joined in on Flash bashing, voicing its support of the same HTML5 technology that Apple was championing.

Jobs concluded by saying, "Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind." At All Things D's D8 confernece, he would also outline Apple's general approach to choosing technologies in their "ascendancy," of which Flash was not.

Late last year, Adobe also announced that it was abandoning Flash development for mobile devices, and the recent update cements Flash's mobile fate. Interestingly, at the time Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) said it would continue developing Flash on its own as a licensee of the source code, as further evidence of the BlackBerry maker's inability to adapt with the times. Even as Adobe itself was preparing to pull the Flash plug, RIM proclaims, "The show must go on!"

The software maker now says there will no longer be any certified implementations of its Flash Player, starting with the next major version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean, which notably starts with Google's own brand new Nexus 7 tablet. Starting on Aug. 15, Adobe will remove its Flash plugin from the Google Play store and recommends uninstalling the software on all devices that get upgraded to Android 4.1. Instead, Adobe will focus on PC-based Flash and mobile apps packaged with Adobe AIR.

This day was inevitable, considering Adobe ceased development in November, but it's now even more official: Mobile Flash is dead.

Technological revolutions inevitably shift power, and Adobe lost its power in the mobile web. Apple has been the undeniable winner of the mobile revolution, but it still has plenty of opportunity ahead of it. If you want to know why, read our top tech analyst's exclusive research report on Apple today!

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