Adobe Flash to Shine on All Smartphones – Except One

Adobe on Monday released new details about its forthcoming Flash Player 10.1 application, designed for for smartphones, smartbooks, netbooks, PCs and other devices connected to the Internet.

A public developer beta of the browser-based runtime is scheduled to be released later this year. It will cover Windows Mobile and Palm webOS in the mobile realm, as well as Windows, Mac OS and Linux desktop operating systems. Public betas for Google Android and Symbian mobile OSes are scheduled for early 2010, and RIM is working with Adobe to bring Flash to the BlackBerry.

Notably, the iPhone was absent from Adobe’s list of target platforms.

About Flash Player 10.1

Adobe describes Flash Player 10.1 as the first consistent runtime release of the Open Screen Project that enables Web browsing of expressive applications, content and high-definition (HD) videos across multiple devices.

“With Flash Player moving to new mobile platforms, users will be able to experience virtually all Flash technology-based Web content and applications wherever they are,” said said David Wadhwani, Adobe’s general manager and vice president for its platform business unit.

Flash Player 10.1 lets users distribute content created with Adobe Flash across a wide variety of platforms. The browser-based runtime lets app designers and developers reuse code and assets, Adobe said.

Adobe also has a new project, code named “Zeri,” under which HTTP streaming will be encapsulated with digital rights management in Adobe Plash Player 10.1.

The Pros and Cons of Flash on Mobile

Flash Player 10.1 is interesting because it will be available on mobile platforms. It supports multi-touch, gestures, mobile input models, accelerometers and screen orientation. All these features are in existing many smartphones, such as the HTC Hero, the Palm Pre and, of course, the iPhone.

“Smartphones might support features like multi-touch and gestures, but Flash hasn’t, so this is significant,” explained Allen Nogee, a principal analyst at In-Stat. That’s because it opens up new possibilities on the smartphone.

For example, if a Flash ad in a Web page supports an accelerometer, shaking the phone could make the ad respond, Nogee said “To date, mobile screens have lived without Flash, but it is nice to have, and many complex Web pages need it to display motion-related content,” he told TechNewsWorld.

However, this feature could prove to be a double-edged sword. “Wireless service providers might become much more restrictive on download limits, perhaps pricing by the megabyte now that mobile ads will be able to incorporate motion,” Nogee warned. “If this happens, users might be upset by the added data that these Flash ads contain, and there might be backlash.”

Where Open Screen Is Going

Flash Player 10.1 is released under the auspices of the Open Screen Project, which is led by Adobe. The project’s membership consists of about 50 leading high-tech companies. They are trying to develop a consistent runtime environment across mobile phones, desktops and other consumer electronic devices.

Project members include chipmakers Intel and ARM; networks NBC Universal and MTV Networks; mobile phone manufacturers Nokia, Motorola and HTC; and media companies BBC and New York Times.

Their goal is to be able to publish content and applications seamlessly across all devices.

Achieving that isn’t going to be easy, warned Carl Howe, an electrical engineer who’s director of anywhere research at the Yankee Group. “Flash does run on everything, but it struggles to provide a consistent experience across various screen sizes — you’re consistently having to resize images,” he told TechNewsWorld.

This is because Adobe uses an interpreting engine that tries to interpret what a user wants to do. “This inserts a level of interpretation between content and the decoder,” Howe explained. The interpreting engine also requires additional processing power, Howe said.

The Adobe Land Grab

With Flash Player 10.1, Adobe is really trying to get all developers to use its platform, Yankee Group’s Howe contended. “Flash is one technology from one company, and the Open Screen Alliance has very tight licensing restrictions on the Flash player,” he said.

“Adobe wants people to develop everything on its platform, and that might lead to a closed environment. It could lead to a world where one company controls how you see content, and that company could be Adobe,” he added.

Adobe did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

No Love to Apple

Whereas Flash in one form or another has been available for some time on several mobile platforms, it’s never been available for the iPhone, though Adobe has commented it would like its technology to one day play on the device.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has commented that a mobile version of Flash would not be adequate and the desktop version would be too beefy for the iPhone.

Adobe struggled on and, in February of this year, it announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it would introduce a version of Flash Player for mobile devices and was working with Apple on a plug-in for the iPhone.

Adobe likely didn’t mention the iPhone as a platform for Flash Player 10.1 because it’s still trying to come to terms with Apple, In-Stat’s Nogee speculated. “Maybe this announcement of Flash Player 10.1 will speed negotiations,” he said.

3 Comments

  • I don’t remember how many times I have used my iTouch and hit a site that needed flash and had to go somewhere else to get my info or play a game.

    Now with the advent of this Mobile Flash seeming to be an answer to many prayers, including mine, we might be forced to deal without it because someone thinks otherwise.

    Personally I like the iPhone and the iTouch. I think that they are perfect for a multimedia platform that is portable, mind you I have never really been a fan or supporter of anything Apple.

    That’s why it’s really confusing for me to not understand why Apple hasn’t grabbed at this to improve on their systems. I’m starting to wonder what Apple’s true idea/purpose of the iPhone or iTouch are. It’s just as confusing as to why they decided to put a camera on the Nano? Huh? Seriously, the Touch would have been a better choice. I think that Apple really needs to get off their High-Horse before people who use their products find something else to replace them.

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