I'm not ordinarily one to gloat or dwell on I-told-you-sos, but I'm going to make an exception in this one instance. I took an awful lot of heat for those blog rants backin 2009 for saying things like
I hate to break it to you, but Flash, as it currently exists, is dead. Oh, it's not going to die quickly, it's going to die a slow painful death precisely because there has been such a large investment of time and money into using it by so many large corporations like Disney. Flash's roots run way too deep for it to disappear quickly.
Here's the thing, though: Flash is a product of a different generation of computing. It's a product of a world where 90% of the people used one platform, and the bulk of the remaining used another. There was Windows, and there was the Mac.
And now, the world is changing. People are increasingly browsing the web from mobile devices, and unlike the computer world of a decade ago, the mobile computing landscape is not anything like a monoculture or monopoly. There are several viable mobile platforms all competing in that space. We have the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian and probably others that have slipped my mind. All of these are operating systems currently shipping on phones and all come with browsers. None of them, except a solitary model of Android phone, has Flash.
But before I get too smug, you know what? I missed a huge factor in the demise of Flash. I assumed the performance issues they were having back then were simply technical hurdles that would be overcome by Adobe's engineers before long. In the end, the lack of a monoculture was certainly a significant factor in the demise of mobile Flash, but the real nail in the coffin was that Adobe never even got mobile Flash working demonstrably well on a single model on a single platform, let alone working well on the "billions of mobile phones" they were shooting for with the Flash Consortium. I completely overestimated Adobe's ability to deliver, technically.
But all is not lost for Flash developers. Adobe has stated that they are going to "refocus" their efforts on allowing Flash to create HTML5 compliant web apps. What a brilliant idea!
If I may… one last quote from my much-reviled Flash rants:
I said that back in August 2009 and, frankly, I was kind of stating the obvious. Maybe Adobe should have made me CEO. I doubt I would've done much worse than the current management given the recent layoff announcements.
I know people think of me as an Adobe hater. I'm not. More accurately, I'm a disgruntled fan. In the nineties I held Adobe in higher regard than I held Apple (at least Apple before Jobs' return). I adored Photoshop, which I had started using around version 1.5 and which enabled me to make a living for a couple of years. Somehow, in the span of fifteen years, Adobe went from being a company that made amazing things to being a company that made mediocre things that they marketed as amazing. A company that had no focus. A company that churned out new versions of software in order to generate new income, not to meet honest customer demand. I watched a great company become a company that didn't care about being great as long as quarterly profit sheets looked good.
I, for one, am hoping for a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes on the order of Apple's comeback. Hoping… but not expecting.