Adobe: Flash shipped on 20 million handsets

At Mobile World Congress, Adobe has described its plans to speed up Flash on smartphones and talks about support coming from Android Honeycomb, HP's WebOS and RIM's Tablet OS
Written by Simon Bisson, Contributor

Flash Player 10.1 has been installed on more than 20 million handsets in the six months since its launch, Adobe has said, as it outlined its plans for its mobile runtimes.

Adobe, which has seen Flash banned from iPhones and iPads by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, talked about its plans for Flash and AIR at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona on Monday. Anup Murarka, Adobe's director of technology strategy and partner development, said that the company is pleased with Flash's mobile growth.

Flash Player 10.1

Flash Player 10.1 has been installed on 20 million handsets, the company said at Mobile World Congress. Photo credit: David Meyer

"There's been over 100 percent year-on-year growth in the amount of video streamed by Flash, with over 120 petabytes a month used by both desktop and mobile," Murarka told ZDNet UK in a phone briefing.

Flash Player is currently certified on over 35 different devices, and Adobe expects it to be installed on over 130 million smartphones by the end of 2011.

In addition, Adobe expects mobile Flash to be supported by more than just Android soon, with support from platforms such as HP's WebOS and Research In Motion's (RIM) Tablet OS due in the next few months. While Windows Phone support has yet to materialise, Murarka is hopeful about the effects of the Nokia-Microsoft tie-up on Flash's future.

"The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft simplifies and broadens the reach of a platform that we hope to have supported as soon as possible," he said.

Flash Player is not Adobe's only choice for playing mobile media, and its AIR cross-platform development technology now accounts for more than 1,500 applications in the Android Marketplace in just two months. AIR is supported by over 84 million phones and tablets, according to Adobe. The software maker expects that number to grow to over 200 million by the end of 2011, as more than 50 Flash and AIR-capable tablets are set to ship this year.

Murarka said the next version of the Flash Player, 10.2, has been sent to Adobe's partners and will start appearing in the next few weeks. Improved support for hardware acceleration in 10.2 via its Stage Video technology has meant that HD video only uses 15 percent CPU on Windows and Macintosh computers, according to Murarka. Stage Video support is planned for Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, and Tablet OS.

"You won't see as dramatic a change on mobile, but you will see some improvements," Murarka said. 

Murarka expects the technology to lead to improved battery savings on mobile devices. "It's noticeable on dual core, as we get higher frame rates," he added, in response to a question about performance on dual-core ARM devices.

At Mobile World Congress, Adobe plans to demonstrate 1080p video at 30 frames per second, using a prototype dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon device.

"Devices like this will mean a really rapid acceleration of mobile capabilities that will drive Flash," Murarka said. He mentioned in particular "the Tegra 2, a great example of GPU hardware, with video looking good on a large screen device like the Motorola Xoom."

The partnership between Nokia and Microsoft simplifies and broadens the reach of a platform that we hope to have supported.
– Anup Murarka, Adobe

In a separate announcement on Monday, Adobe said that its Digital Publishing Suite, now used for over 100 publications, will be released on Android. An AIR version of the magazine application is also in the works for the next generation of tablets.

"It's to allow publishers to be ready for Android tablet launches," Murarka said, noting that the use of AIR should make it easier to port magazine readers to WebOS and Tablet OS.

The initial release of the Android magazine application won't support in-application subscriptions, as this will depend on the operating system and store support. Instead, Adobe will concentrate on delivering individual issues and plans to deliver APIs for in-application subscriptions in future releases.

Get more mobile news from ZDNet UK's latest updates from Mobile World Congress.
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