Okay this is a slightly controversial post but it’s something that’s been nagging at me for a good few months now so I thought I’d put it out there and see what people think.

Will Adobe’s mobile vision for Flash restrict future features?

“Why would it?” you might ask. Well the whole point of Flash Player 10.1 for mobile is to deliver the exact same desktop web experience to our mobile devices. Considering the performance gap between desktop and mobile it surely wouldn’t make sense for Adobe to add any new features to Flash that were CPU intensive or memory hungry. Such a strategy would risk producing content that performs poorly on mobile and gives Flash a bad name. Unfortunately the really cool features are often the ones that require fast CPUs and bags of RAM.

Adobe has committed considerable time and effort educating developers about mobile and encouraging them to optimise their existing Flash content – Take a look at the Ads Optimizations and Optimizing Performance for the Flash Platform white papers. It’s clear they’re desperate to ensure that web-based Flash content runs well on mobile and shows Flash in a good light, so I seriously doubt they’ll want to introduce any new features to the player that might cause problems on mobile.

You could argue that Adobe should just keep adding great new features regardless of how well they might run on mobile and leave developers to decide whether or not to use them. The problem with this approach however is that they risk fragmenting the web with great content that runs brilliantly on desktop but poorly on mobile, which is exactly what they’re trying to prevent at the moment.

Sure, as time goes on, mobile devices will get faster and faster but there is always going to be a gulf between the power of mobile handsets and desktops. My guess, and my hope is that Adobe let their mobile strategy dictate, to a certain extent, the future of Flash and the features that we’ll see in upcoming releases.

In the short term I think it’s very important we start to see some performance parity between mobile and desktop Flash content. Much of it is down to the developers producing the content but I think Adobe can help by ensuring that any new features aren’t likely to melt our mobile phones.