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Feb 19

Will Adobe’s AIR Mobile Ease Smartphone Wars?

Posted by rgarretson in SymbiansmartphonesmobileiPhoneHTML5blackberryAndroidAdobe Flash


Adobe's aim is to ease cross-platform development of mobile applications with its announcement of a mobile version of its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) along with Flash Player 10.1 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, though whether it will provide clarity or confusion as the smartphone platform wars heat up remains to be seen.

Adobe's new AIR 2 environment is intended to provide the same cross-platform development capabilities outside of a Web browser that its Flash environment provides for Web-based apps. Apps kike TweetDeck and the New York Times Reader where developed as AIR applications to work across a variety of operating systems and browsers.

All the major smartphones - with the glaring and notable exception of  Apple's iPhone --  support Flash, including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Palm's webOS and Windows Mobile. Apple remains the key wrench in the works, as it continues to gain domestic smartphone market share. And Microsoft, which has supported Flash in Windows Mobile to date, said this week that Windows Phone 7 devices will not run Flash, at least initially.

US Smartphone Market Share Chart

The ecosystem of application developers and thousands of third-party apps has been a key selling point for the iPhone, and it's App Store had been mimicked by all the major smartphone brands.  Apple is not likely to climb on board a standard that will ease application portability and potentially erode a prime competitive advantage.

Separately, some 7 million iPhone users had through December 2009, attempted to download Flash, according to an Adobe blog post. Apple has reportedly complained that Adobe's Flash is buggy and is looking toward the future HTML5 standard to provide similar capabilities.

At the Mobile World Congress that concluded this week Adobe and a variety of mobile device makers demonstrated AIR 2 and Flash 10.1 applications, many of them running on Google's Android (also gaining market share) which takes full advantage of operating system features such as multi-touch, gesture inputs, accelerometer input, GPS and screen rotation. Adobe expects to make Flash Player 10.1 generally available for PCs, Macs and mobile devices in the first half of this year

For more information and to view demos, visit Adobe's AIR Mobile demo page.

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