January 06, 2014

Adobe’s Unlikely Plans for PhoneGap and Web Apps

With Flash on the way out, as sites like YouTube (NewsAlert) make the transition to HTML5, Adobe has had to change its focus somewhat. For all intents and purposes, the company has decided to place its bets on HTML5, which is pretty evident based on its PhoneGap offering, an HTML5 hybrid app framework that allows for the creation of mobile apps using standardized Web APIs.

This may seem to be a clear-cut situation; after all, an HTML5 framework would appear to offer little room for interpretation. However, as Marko Lehtimaki over at App Developer Magazine, recently pointed out, Adobe’s (NewsAlert) relationship with PhoneGap is, well, complicated.

The problem stems from two factors. The first is the fact that creative professionals are, without a doubt, Adobe’s core audience, leaving developers to fall by the wayside. The second is that PhoneGap is, primarily, a hybrid framework, and that just isn’t close enough to pure Web app development for Adobe.

Adobe has long been a prominent figure in the Web development tool space. With Flash on the decline and native app dominance on mobile devices, though, the relevance of this position is fading. On the surface, Adobe’s 2012 acquisition of PhoneGap seems to fit well with its push toward HTML5 development.

But, as we’ve already established, PhoneGap isn’t enough for Adobe. As such, the company wants PhoneGap out of the picture as soon as possible. This is because, while Adobe hopes Web apps will overthrow native app dominance, it doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. As it stands, developers tend to opt for the richer features and performance offered by native, or hybrid, apps.

The only problem, as far as Abode is concerned, is that mobile browsers need to catch up in the areas of features and performance. The company is working on this, by pushing to make core device APIs that are restricted to native apps available to mobile browsers, but this will take quite a lot of time to accomplish.

Because of this, Adobe is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It can’t wait for mobile browsers to improve, and it can’t add richer features to PhoneGap because that would essentially contribute to native app success rather than HTML5 apps.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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