Adobe – argues Michael Mace, Cera Technology CEO, was chiefly to blame for mobile Flash’s failure, having built itself into a corner from which they couldn’t escape once the mobile market began to take off.
“If you look for root causes of the Flash failure, I think they go back many years to a fundamental misreading of the mobile market, and to short-term revenue goals that were more important than long-term strategy at both Macromedia and Adobe,” Mace wrote.
In other words, Macromedia initially built the Flash market by giving away the player completely free. As that began establishing a Flash foothold on the consumer side of the equation, Macromedia did what so many other companies do with the oft-used strategy: It charged developers for access to the tools to create Flash content.
“The free Flash player eventually took on two roles on the web: it was the preferred way to create artistically-sophisticated web content, including an active subculture of online gaming, and it became one of the most popular ways to play video,” Mace wrote. “Flash reached a point of critical mass where most people felt they just had to have the player installed in their browser. ”
So where does the mobile market fit in? According to Mace, Macromedia started licensing a “Lite” version of the Flash Player to Japan’s NTT DoCoMo for the company’s iMode phones. But that put Adobe into a tricky predicament: It couldn’t offer the same Flash Lite to other manufacturers for free in an attempt to grow Flash adoption on mobile devices, lest it undercut its own deal. But other manufacturers weren’t interested in shelling out for Flash Lite.