Adobe Aggressively Bringing Flash to Smartphones…But Not iPhone

At its Adobe Max 2009 conference, software giant Adobe formally announced Adobe Flash Player 10.1, including full flash support for smartphones and other Internet-connected devices. Flash Player 10.1 will be the first version of Flash that enables a consistent range of capabilities across a broad range of devices, ranging from tricked out gamer and developer PCs all the way down to smartphones. And mobile devices are a major focus of Adobe’s efforts: the company plans to have a developer beta ready to go for Windows Mobile, webOS, and desktop operating systems by the end of 2009, with public betas for Android and Symbian due in early 2010.

Of course, there’s one major smartphone platform that’s not part of Adobe’s equation for Flash Player 10.1: the Apple iPhone.

Adobe Flash logo

“With Flash Player moving to new mobile platforms, users will be able to experience virtually all Flash technology based Web content and applications wherever they are,” said Adobe’s platform business VP and general manager David Wadhwani, in a statement. “We are excited about the broad collaboration of close to 50 industry leaders in the Open Screen Project and the ongoing collaboration with 19 out of the top 20 handset manufacturers worldwide. It will be great to see first devices ship with full Flash Player in the first half of next year.”

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is also on board with the Open Screen Project, although neither RIM nor Adobe offered any concrete information on when Flash Player 10.1 for BlackBerry devices might be available.

Apple has historically shown some reticence towards including Flash support in the iPhone: although it made some deals with Google to bring things like YouTube and Google Maps to the iPhone without Flash, the iPhone’s Safari browser deliberately doesn’t support plug-ins, and Apple has indicated in the past that Flash performance on the iPhone would be sub-par. However, Apple has since released the iPhone 3GS (and revised iPod touch) with significantly improved performance and graphics capabilities; industry watchers are looking to Apple to get behind Flash on the iPhone sooner than later…although few were surprised the company declined to do it at an Adobe-centric event.