85 percent of Alexa top 100 sites. 70 percent of web games. 75 percent of web video. 98 percent of internet connected computers. What do all of these have in common? Flash. Those percentages represent just how large of a presence Flash holds over web content, and it just begs the question ‘Why not?’ Why not have Flash as a mobile platform? Whether or not it fits in the mobile picture seems to be the raging debate ever since Apple flat-out refused the service on the iPhone. But it isn’t just Apple. If you want proof that there is a very vocal group against Flash just let this article sit for a bit and then check the comments.
But that doesn’t matter, because Flash is here. And it works. Adobe has dumped countless man hours into getting their big web content delivery system onto Android handsets, with development stretching all the way back to the G1 before shifting over to the Motorola Droid and finally the Nexus One. And even if Flash for mobile isn’t perfect, Adobe is committed to creating the best possible experience for smartphone users.
Let’s talk about subtlety. In the on-demand world that exists today thanks to things like smartphones that are constantly connected to endless streams of data, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say people want something to just work. Whether or not Flash is a selling point I can’t say for sure, but it sure doesn’t hurt. If you were oblivious to Flash as a platform, didn’t even realize your favorite sites use it, and go to open up said sites on your Android phone and they loaded as normal that is a huge benefit. It is subtle, but it is huge at the same time. Imagine the same scenario but instead of seeing your favorite site you see a blue box with a question mark in it. Maybe multiple boxes. Maybe no content at all is even accessible. That immediately handicaps your device.
But you will shout “HTML5!” My response to that is to go re-read the beginning of this article. Flash is engrained in the web. It isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And most smartphone manufacturers get this. Want another percentage? 95 percent of the top 20 phone manufacturers are committed to bringing Flash to their platforms.
And why? Because Adobe isn’t just doing some shoddy port of their desktop equivalent. No, Flash 10.1 for mobile was built from the ground up with smartphone features and battery optimizations in mind. Multi-touch, mobile commands, gestures, accelerometer support, smart zooming and full screen modes. All features that are currently baked into Flash for Android or will be coming in the near future. And Adobe has been working closely with hardware partners, CPU architects and manufacturers, and Google to make sure the service is usable and intuitive across a large swath of devices.
And even if Flash as an experience isn’t perfect — even if web content isn’t quite optimized for the mobile experience yet — a demand exists for it. Can we say the first official out of beta release of Flash player isn’t without its problems? Absolutely not. There is so much more work to be done between refining the actual platform, gaining developer support, and generating great mobile content, but as it stands Adobe just opened up a whole new avenue of web for mobile.