Adobe has just released its Flash Player for Mobile 10.1—empowering certain smartphones to play flash content on the Web. Curious timing, since Apple's just shipped its new Flash-free iOS4. Is Adobe trying to make a point?
The software is available for Apple-competing Android platforms, including smartphones from a broad spectrum of manufacturers like the Nexus One Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy S, and HTC Evo, and Adobe says it's shipped the code off to BlackBerry, Palm, Microsoft, and the folks who run MeeGo, Symbian, and LiMo. When when these companies get their update systems running (assuming they actually choose to roll out Flash capabilities) then millions of users will benefit from the ability to play Flash content... and sap their batteries, slow down their cell phones, and open themselves up to viruses— at least according to all the allegations about how Flash performs on mobile devices. Adobe has tried to tackle this and announced that it's "completely redesigned and optimized" the code, including reducing the memory demands of Flash by 50%.
The presence of Palm on this list of manufacturers is interesting as a Palm exec was saying, only the other day, that Palm didn't know "what the hold-up is" in getting Flash onto its WebOS platform. Was Adobe preserving an air of mystery about its plans, even from its manufacturers? Will this turn the public against Apple, and have them demanding that Steve Jobs capitulate and allow Flash onto the iPhone and iPad? We'd guess not—Jobs has made his position extremely clear and there's a growing trend online to move gently away from Flash technology to alternative ways to present advanced interactive Web content, specifically HTML5.
And with video evidence of Flash's apparent battery-sapping powers, even in this new "optimized" edition (at least, in developer test releases of it) the movement toward alternatives may be a sensible thing.