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Adobe Promises Flash-ier Smartphones by 2009

By Renay San Miguel
Nov 17, 2008 1:31 PM PT

That blur you saw at the edges of your vision just now? That would be the Internet continuing to move at light speed to your cell phone and other mobile devices. So Adobe's argument is, how can anything move that fast without Flash?

Adobe Promises Flash-ier Smartphones by 2009

The company is staging its MAX 2008 conference in San Francisco this week, and Adobe is putting the spotlight on announcements focusing on its market-dominating Flash Web media platform. The news item getting the most early attention is a deal with mobile microprocessor technology company ARM to help bring Flash Media Player 10 and Adobe's AIR media development tool to the new generation of Internet-centric smartphones and mobile devices. The chips that will work with the Adobe applications are expected on the market in the second half of 2009, according to an ARM press release.

Screens of All Sizes

ARM is a member of the Adobe-led Open Screen Project, designed to help consumers access rich media no matter where they are.

"Video created for the Adobe Flash Player is the leading video format on the Web today, and this collaboration with ARM is another important step towards bringing the complete Web experience to mobile devices worldwide," Gary Kovacs, general manager and vice president, mobile and devices at Adobe, said. "We are pleased to work with ARM and the other industry leaders in the Open Screen Project, to make browsing and applications as rich and powerful in mobile as they are on the desktop."

Keeping Flash on the Move

Adobe may indeed have the market-leading Web video development tool, but analyst Martin Pyykkonen of Wunderlich Securities says that's no excuse for the company to be lulled into complacency. "Whether it's advertising or Web site content, or streaming live content, the so-called rich media experience on the Internet continues to get stronger," Pyykkonen told TechNewsWorld. "Consumer expectations keep getting greater and greater. You have to keep pumping it (Flash) out there."

Pyykkonen also credits Adobe's Flash Media Server for helping the company build that market share -- "Flash Media Server is pretty well embedded on content delivery networks" -- and to that end, Adobe on Monday announced its Media Server 3.5 software with an eye toward greater interactivity and the expanding social networks segment of the industry. The enhancements include digital video recorder capabilities for live streaming and the ability to include data messages within a live stream.

Microsoft's Silverlight Web video development tool has been getting good reviews since Redmond unveiled it last year, but Pyykkonen says that move is not the chief reason for Adobe to remain active with evolving its Flash technology. "With regard to Silverlight, it's going to take some time when you're up against a company with 98 percent market share with its media player. It would take a while to make a dent in that."

Where's the iPhone Support?

Adobe moving from the desktop to mobile devices is the early theme of MAX 2008, and with all the talk about how Apple's iPhone has yet to offer any support for Adobe's Flash Player, one would think that the conference would have been the perfect venue for announcing any breakthroughs in the relationship. Alas, no breaking news Flashes on that front. But Pyykkonen thinks the attention is on the wrong smartphone maker.

"The notion that you'll never find Flash on an iPhone is the bet, and Adobe in its more humble moment would like to see it there. But I've been closely following Google, and is it their clear mission to have the Web experience on their phone," Pyykkonen said. "Mobile search is a new kind of business and they want to have that on an Android-based set of phones. If you go to a site like Disney.com, a lot of that content is Flash-based. If you're going to do something on the Web site or in a rich media ad, the number of times a person searching or doing page view downloads is going to run into a Flash Player is pretty substantial. If advertisers will be attracted to it, then Google will get its share, and Adobe will get its share."


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