Flash and Adobe
I am a bit sad. I'm a bit sad to see Flash is going away and Steve Jobs is not going to see it. Because that's his decision to have no Flash support in iOS that became the death knell for the Adobe technology. Flash became his weapon because:
- Jobs had an old issue with Adobe to solve,
- Apple does not like third-party technologies that become a gordian knot,
- it's a question of good taste and I suppose Jobs has (almost) always considered Flash as bad taste.
So Flash will get security fixes on Android and RIM, will be stopped on all other mobile devices, and will continue to live on Desktop. As I told an interviewer last year in Sweden, HTML+CSS will eventually kill Flash but as a side-effect. By the way, it's ironical to read that at the same moment a rumor says Microsoft could stop Silverlight, its own -ms-Flash...
Speaking of Adobe, that's a big big change for them. They relied on proprietary tech they made ubiquitous, and they now have to rely on the browsers themselves. Since they can't implement themselves all the HTML, CSS and JS goodness they need to replace Flash, they will probably focus only on WebKit. And that's where it's interesting : since they have no impact on the other browsers, they cannot be sure all they need for Web Sites will be available in all browsers at a given time. They can only be sure - if they work themselves on WebKit - they can release a WebKit-based runtime for something like Adobe Air. Please note PDF.js is a threat of a similar magnitude to the Acrobat Reader plugin. So I think that Adobe will probably entirely leave the consumer-oriented plugin market at some point. Their acquisition of PhoneGap is another good indicator of that. They bet on WebKit as the biggest trend in the Web Browser market, thinking that other browsers will have to follow WebKit anyway if it implements new trendy stuff. Not a bad bet, in my humble opinion. That's also why we see a much more active participation of Adobe in the CSS Working Group for example.
Since WebKit is a lot in the hands of Apple, Adobe certainly asked itself the following question: "should we fork WebKit to be more in control?". I bet a box of cookies the answer was "no".
So my predictions, thinking out loud:
- death of Flash and Silverlight, all platforms, as soon as possible.
- death of Acrobat Reader as a plugin, all platforms, as soon as possible. Adobe should even help PDF.js.
- stronger and stronger involvement of Adobe in WebKit ; following the acquisition in Bucharest, more hiring of SW engineers with good knowledge of the guts of WebKit.
- Adobe Air will eventually drop Flash entirely and switch to Web Standards. Or Air as we know it will go away and PhoneGap will be the new Air.
- Dreamweaver's future is probably a strong subject of discussion internally at Adobe. It has grown in circles, is hardly maintainable any more, focuses a lot on Flash-in-the-Web-page and is probably not adapted to what Adobe is currently creating.