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Adobe VP On HTML5: Why We're Not Giving Up On Flash

Heeding industry trends, companies are often forced to give up on once-premiere products and offerings in order to survive. That's the thinking behind HP's reported plan to spin off its PC business, recognizing a longer-term solution in software rather than hardware. And Netflix is undergoing a similar transformation, splitting its DVD subscriptions into Qwikster and staking its future on streaming content.

But for other companies, change is not so easy—sometimes, that sacrifice can be too much to swallow. Case in point: Adobe, which last week doubled down its efforts on Flash, releasing Flash Player 11, Air 3, and ramping up its 3-D and HD support—even as many critics argue the industry is shifting away from Flash and toward HTML5. With such a disruptive technology as HTML5, at what point does Adobe give up on its flagship Flash product, which has long been Adobe's bread and butter? At what point is Adobe stubbornly ignoring the writing on the wall?

According to Danny Winokur, Adobe's VP and general manager of platform, the company has no plans to give up on Flash. Publishers and content creators, he says, are still "really excited" about the technology. But that doesn't mean Adobe is rooting against HTML5—in fact, the company has heavily invested in HTML5 with its Edge suite of tools.

"We do not have any religion at all around how this is all done," Winokur says. "We seek to use the best technologies available, and enable our customers to have freedom of choice. We're going to continue to drive innovation on both fronts [of Flash and HTML5]."

Not everyone shares Adobe's long-term support for Flash. Top directors of Google Chrome and Internet Explorer have sung HTML5's praises; in March, Mozilla Firefox product VP Jay Sullivan said Flash was probably going away "in the long run," and that "HTML5 is the longer-term answer."

When asked about Sullivan's prediction, Winokur offers a more optimistic vision for Flash's future. "Flash, with this new release, is going to pioneer a new wave of capabilities that are not yet in HTML5," he says.

But what happens when HTML5 catches up?

"[The capabilities] will absolutely come to HTML5 over time. It's just a question of what the timeline is," Winokur says. "But in each round of innovation that we've seen with both platforms, what has tended to happen is that you see things move into HTML5—and we're trying as aggressively as we can to help drive that process of HTML5 innovation—but there are always opportunities to go out and innovate ahead of the standards and bring content publishers the latest and greatest capabilities that are available on devices, and let them take advantage of those things even before they've been fully standardized."

Is HTML5 the longer-term answer though?

"We're investing in both [HTML5 and Flash], and if at some point in the future, we reach a day where HTML5 is the thing that content publishers want to use, we'll of course support that," Winokur says. "But I think we're a long way away from a place where content publishers are not interested in ongoing investment in Flash."

[Image: Flickr user EssjayNZ]

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