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The Beginning of the End of Adobe Flash Player

Adobe is digging its own grave by ceasing development on Adobe Flash for mobile browsers.

Adobe is trying to put a positive spin on the news that the company is stopping development on mobile Flash Player. From now on, Adobe will focus on HTML5 and AIR-based native apps for smartphones, while pushing forward with Flash Player on PCs.

"We are super excited about the next generations of HTML5 and Flash," Adobe's Danny Winokur wrote. "...There is already amazing work being done that is pushing the newest boundaries, and we can't wait to see what is still yet to come!"

Props to Adobe for keeping its chin up. But now that the company isn't developing Flash Player for mobile devices, it's only a matter of time before desktop Flash Player fades away as well.

Although desktop computing is still the best way to get work done, people are increasingly turning to smartphones and tablets for leisure. According to Comscore, phones and tablets now account for 7 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic, and that number will surely skyrocket over the next few years, affording less breathing room for desktop Flash.

Meanwhile, mobile and desktop operating systems are coming together. The iPad is becoming a more capable PC with each successive hardware and software update. Android now supports PC accessories including mouses, keyboards, hard drives, and game controllers. Within a year, Microsoft will likely launch Windows 8, which will feature a tablet-optimized interface and support for ARM-based processors. This touch-friendly side of Windows includes a version of Internet Explorer that doesn't run Adobe Flash. As GigaOM's Erica Ogg points out, that may be the main reason Adobe is pulling away from Flash now.

Adobe seems optimistic that it can do great things with desktop Flash Player, including hardware accelerated gaming and premium HD video, but all Adobe is really doing is hanging onto a stagnant market. The things Adobe is working on for desktops--advanced 3D gaming and premium copy-protected video--already exist in mobile through native apps and HTML5. As mobile and desktop platforms merge, Flash Player will get overtaken.

Old technology doesn't die easily. Just as Windows XP has stuck around for 10 years, the PCs and operating systems of today have a long life ahead of them. As long as they're around, Flash Player will exist. But by abandoning mobile development, Adobe is ensuring that Flash Player has no future on any platform. This is the beginning of the end.

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