Earlier today Adobe made a very unpopular decision: it’s abandoning development of Flash for mobile platforms, including Android, as part of a company-wide restructuring effort. Shareholders likewise abandoned their Adobe stock, closing out the trading day with an almost 8% loss, up from even greater losses in the morning. To add insult to injury, former Adobe executive Carlos Icaza told Read Write Web that the company ignored his call to focus on touchscreen displays way back in 2007, leading him to leave his job and get an incredible amount of post-employment vindication right about now.
According to Icaza, Adobe dropped the ball and failed to realize the disruptive power of the iPhone and other smartphones, choosing instead to focus their efforts on cheaper and (at the time) more ubiquitous feature phones. The company believed that large-screen touch phones would be a niche. It would be three years later before Flash showed up on Android devices, and even then, support and performance left many underwhelmed. After attacking the Android space with Flash and adobe’s encapsulate app platform AIR, which they’re focusing their efforts on now, Adobe has yet to make any meaningful dent in the mobile market.
Icaza goes on to say that Flash took a backseat within the company to more profitable development tools, and as a result, development on the more widely-used Flash stuttered and eventually died. If early reactions are anything to go on, consumers, developers and not least Adobe investors are upset at the whole process. Many see this as a mea culpa for Adobe not just on the mobile platform, but for Flash on the desktop as well, making the company’s extremely public feud with Apple over Flash and HTML5 a poor decision in hindsight. Adobe will continue to offer bug fixes and security patches for mobile flash, but the next version to be released will be the last major update.