Matt Gemmell

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Adobe Communication

interface, user experience & writing 3 min read

Adobe announced today that they won’t be making any more versions of Flash Player for mobile devices, but as usual for large companies, you have to work hard to decipher what they’ve said.

Confusing, marketing-voiced corporate communication is a terrible problem in this industry, and it’s damaging to the companies themselves. Adobe’s press release (that’s what it essentially is, even though it’s nominally a blog post) sounds sterile, aloof, disconnected and tentative - perhaps even with a note of desperation. I decided to rewrite it.

Here’s the original text:

Adobe is all about enabling designers and developers to create the most expressive content possible, regardless of platform or technology. For more than a decade, Flash has enabled the richest content to be created and deployed on the web by reaching beyond what browsers could do. It has repeatedly served as a blueprint for standardizing new technologies in HTML. Over the past two years, we’ve delivered Flash Player for mobile browsers and brought the full expressiveness of the web to many mobile devices.

However, HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers.

Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations.

These changes will allow us to increase investment in HTML5 and innovate with Flash where it can have most impact for the industry, including advanced gaming and premium video. Flash Player 11 for PC browsers just introduced dozens of new features, including hardware accelerated 3D graphics for console-quality gaming and premium HD video with content protection. Flash developers can take advantage of these features, and all that our Flash tooling has to offer, to reach more than a billion PCs through their browsers and to package native apps with AIR that run on hundreds of millions of mobile devices through all the popular app stores, including the iTunes App Store, Android Market, Amazon Appstore for Android and BlackBerry App World.

We are already working on Flash Player 12 and a new round of exciting features which we expect to again advance what is possible for delivering high definition entertainment experiences. We will continue to leverage our experience with Flash to accelerate our work with the W3C and WebKit to bring similar capabilities to HTML5 as quickly as possible, just as we have done with CSS Shaders. And, we will design new features in Flash for a smooth transition to HTML5 as the standards evolve so developers can confidently invest knowing their skills will continue to be leveraged.

We are super excited about the next generations of HTML5 and Flash. Together they offer developers and content publishers great options for delivering compelling web and application experiences across PCs and devices. 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!

Pretty bad. It’s far too long, and they’re overly eager to sound like it’s business as usual. The fact is, despite being somewhat late, Adobe is doing a really brave and clever thing. The wording above dilutes that, which is a shame.

Here’s my version, which says the same thing:

Adobe's goal is to help you create engaging content. Flash has served that goal for more than a decade, often inspiring new features of HTML, and has been very popular on mobile devices as well as the desktop.

However, HTML5 is now supported on more devices than Flash, and we're excited about it. We're committed to HTML5, so Flash Player 11.1 will be our last version for mobile devices, except for bug fixes and security updates (though source code licensees may still release their own implementations). Instead, we'll focus on helping Flash developers create Adobe AIR apps for the major app stores.

We're still actively working on Flash Player for PCs, and the recent new version 11 introduced exciting features like hardware accelerated 3D graphics and HD video. We plan to keep driving innovation online, and we're devoted to web standards.

We think the future is bright for Flash and HTML5, and we can't wait to see it.

To my eye (or rather, mental ear), this version sounds more earnest. Sincere, upbeat, and well-considered - without the sense of nagging insecurity and a need to prove itself.

Take time to think about your own professional communications. Don’t accept biz-speak as the right solution, regardless of how ubiquitous it is. Be human, and engage directly with people - they’ll respect you for it, and be more willing to give your business a chance.

If you’re interested in more thoughts about the human side of computing, feel free to follow me (@mattgemmell) on Twitter.