Adobe on Tuesday will launch the long-awaited Flash Player 10.1 to mobile phone makers and Android's latest operating system will lead the charge. For Adobe, the stakes are high as it seeks to put Flash into every smartphone surrounding Apple's iPhone, which doesn't do Flash.
With the move, Adobe is trying to position Flash as a platform that "just works" across the desktop as well as mobile devices. The latest Android operating system, Froyo, will be the proving ground for Flash's mobile debut. Flash is expected to start out on Motorola's Droid, multiple HTC devices as well as the Dell Streak. Later, Adobe plans to roll out Flash on the BlackBerry, webOS, Windows Phone 7 Series, LiMo, MeeGo and Symbian platforms "in coming months."
Indeed, the stakes are high for Adobe. Everything from battery life to stability to security will be closely scrutinized. Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, agreed that Flash's mobile rollout will be put under the microscope. "Flash will be highly scrutinized and needs to perform well," said Hilwa. "Everyone will be watching, but the odds are that Flash was tested well and it should work well."
Anup Murarka, director of technology strategy and partner development at Adobe, said that the company will have 19 of the top 20 mobile OEMs as partners. Murarka added that Flash on mobile devices will work with existing Web content and offer features such as double tap options on Web pages and better integration with chipmakers. "We laid the groundwork for innovation with 10.1," he said.
So what's the plan? Murarka outlined the following:
- Initially, Flash 10.1 will be available on Android 2.2.
- It will be available as a download in Android market, but as system software.
- Flash 10.1 is expected to really start taking off on tablets in the second half a year when it is preinstalled.
- Adobe is hoping Flash 10.1 will be on 9 to 10 percent of smartphones this year.
- By 2011, Flash 10.1 should be on a third of smartphones.
- By 2012, Adobe plans to have Flash 10.1 on more than half of all smartphones shipped assuming no major market share changes.
- Flash Lite will continue on other mass market phones.
Hilwa said that Adobe's strategy is valid and the company could entice developers looking to create apps for multiple platforms in one shot. The one wild-card will be Apple's iOS. Should it come to dominate the smartphone market Adobe would be shut out. Hilwa said that the mobile industry is just getting started and is likely to remain fragmented for the foreseeable future.