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Adobe’s First Full-Blown Flash Player for Smartphones Announced, No iPhone

Adobe Systems has announced that its first full-blown multimedia Flash player aimed at smartphones will be released by the end of the year, yet Apple remains steadfast in its opposition against the media player making its way to the iPhone.

AdobelogoAdobe is claiming that Google, Microsoft, Palm and Nokia will all be releasing either platforms, or phones that will be able to play the same videos and flash-based applications as their desktop and notebook counterparts.

At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Adobe will be demonstrating a beta build of their upcoming Flash 10 for smartphones. However, in direct response to the obvious holdouts, Adobe said that it was “not close to delivering Flash players that would work with Apple Inc.’s iPhone or Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry,” according to a report over at Computerworld.

This comes as no surprise given Apple’s longtime opposition to both mobile versions and desktop versions of Adobe’s flash player. Apple’s intentions with web technology revolve around open standards, and Flash does not. With Mobile Me, and now iWork.com, Apple has made it clear that anything Adobe thinks Flash is needed for, can alternatively be done with open, scalable technology such as Ajax, high-level programming languages such as JSON and frameworks like Sproutcore. A similar open-source application framework is Cappucino, and aside from Mobile Me and iWork.com, 280 slides is a wonderful example of what these open-standards can deliver.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot of engineering work to be done,” said Anup Murarka, director of partner development and technology strategy for Adobe’s platform business unit, Computerworld explains. “We’re working with Apple on what we have,” Murarka said. “We’re committed to make the Flash plug-in work on the iPhone.” And with RIM, Adobe has made even lessprogress. Of note, Adobe says that it has optimized the Flash player’s performance specifically on the iPhone’s ARM v6 CPU, as well as the ARM v7 which Palm is planned to be using for the upcoming Palm Pre.

“We’ve had some initial conversations and are evaluating different approaches to be taken,” Murarka said. “There is a lot of interest from BlackBerry enterprise customers to be able to build Flash apps. But there is no working solution yet.”

Reports between Apple and Adobe surrounding Flash have been ongoing. For the most part, we cannot see Apple allowing any version of Flash to run on the iPhone. As it currently stands, the only real relevance Flash has anymore is for web video. The FLV video format remains so ubiquitous, that until something comes along that catches on faster, with better quality, Flash will stick around. Apple is pushing their H.264 format hard, and a deal with Youtube last year proved that other major players aren’t married to Flash. As we’ve previously explained, if the iPhone’s mobile Safari gets Flash, it better have an “off” setting.

Comments [4]

4 Comments to “Adobe’s First Full-Blown Flash Player for Smartphones Announced, No iPhone”

dave @ February 16th, 2009 at 1:18 am
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At best, they have added SOME of the features that the full ‘desktop’ Flash plugin has to the plugin/whatever they copy onto some cell phones. But since the Flash plugin periodically (when I actually click to load the Flash plugin for something, which is rare) makes the CPU on my dual-core 2.5 Ghz desktop machine to go 100% usage, there is NO way they can make it have the same functionality on a 400 or 500 MHz, single, low-power CPU.

Maybe Adobe should spend their effort making the Flash plugin for Mac OS X work reasonably well, instead of just jumping on the iPhone bandwagon. You can bet Adobe will drop Flash for the iPhone faster than you can say “But…”, if another phone happens to come along that energizes the market the way the iPhone has (not that I think this is likely to happen, even with the super-hyped Palm Pre).

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dave @ February 16th, 2009 at 1:19 am
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I missed saying this, but it looks like this mostly a rebranding exercise (namely, renaming their Flash Lite plugin/app to be just ‘Flash’ because of what Steve Jobs said about how crappy it is).

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Aviv @ February 16th, 2009 at 1:23 am
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@dave: If you’re saying that Adobe cannot and won’t be rebuilding Flash from the ground up for the iPhone and instead rebranding some crappy version based on what Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, then I agree with you. The thing is, I have a feeling that Apple does not give a sh*t about Flash, and they shouldn’t… And there’s some conflicting interests that are stopping Apple from whole-heartedly admitting (in the public), what they admit behind closed doors… That Flash is garbage.

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dave @ February 16th, 2009 at 2:36 am
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Aviv, I would guess that Adobe is trying really hard to port their full Flash plugin to the iPhone somehow, so they can go to Apple and say “See, we can do it. Now, can we please ship it?”.

For other cell phones, it’s mostly rebranding Flash Lite, with some additional functionality (as more modern smartphones have faster processors and GPUs).

And I agree, Apple should not bother trying to assist and/or consider Flash on the iPhone. Open, public standards (which Flash most definitely is NOT) are the way to go. Hell, Apple is responsible for all the effort Adobe is putting in to rebrand Flash Lite and get so-called real “Flash” support on all the other smartphones.

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