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Summary:

The TV app market is incredibly fragmented, but Adobe’s Flash won’t provide a solution. The company confirmed that like mobile, it will no longer focus on porting the Flash plugin into web browsers on CE devices, but thinks developers should build native apps instead.

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Adobe announced Wednesday that it would be abandoning its work to enable rich applications on mobile devices through Flash, and would be focusing on HTML5 and Adobe AIR apps instead. But at the same time it was working on bringing Flash video and applications to mobile devices, it was also hoping to bridge the divide between web video and what could be watched on connected TVs. So what happens to those efforts?

While the market for TV apps is incredibly fragmented, it doesn’t appear that Adobe’s Flash will provide a solution. The company confirmed through a statement that like mobile, it will no longer focus on porting the Flash plugin into web browsers on CE devices, but believes developers should build native apps on those devices instead. An Adobe spokesperson writes:

“Adobe will continue to support existing licensees who are planning on supporting Flash Player for web browsing on digital home devices and are using the Flash Player Porting Kit to do so. However we believe the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a web browsing experience, and we will continue to encourage the device and content publishing community down that path.”

Adobe’s efforts to bring Flash to connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices, like its mobile Flash plans, were part of its Open Screen Project, which aimed to create a consistent app runtime across multiple devices. The idea was that developers would be able to create a Flash application once and be able to distribute it across web browsers, mobile devices and TVs.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Adobe announced a number of partnerships with OEMs and system-on-chip vendors such as Broadcom, Intel, STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors and Sigma Designs to embed the Flash player into their silicon. But the number of TVs and other CE devices that support the Flash player have been limited to those from Sony and Logitech running the Google TV operating system. And Google TV has hardly been a success.

Now, Adobe is taking a step back from those plans, but not abandoning the TV app segment altogether. Instead of pushing multi-screen, browser-based Flash applications, Adobe is hoping to convince developers to create native apps on mobile and TV devices using the Adobe AIR framework. Already some developers are taking advantage of that framework, with publishers like Cnet, Epix and YouTube building TV apps for Samsung TVs based on Adobe AIR.

  1. So does this mean that the future development of Tivo’s Premiere UI is screwed?

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  2. So does this mean my Safari will ‘quit unexpectedly’ no more?

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  3. Hi. What about Official FLASH PLAYER OCX for windows support ?
    will it continue ?

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  4. hi. will adobe officially still supporting FLASH PLAYER OCX for windows ? or will them not ?

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  5. I’m surprised that coverage of Adobe’s decision doesn’t really mention the future of the desktop Flash Player. Adobe’s carefully worded press release doesn’t want people talking about the doomed desktop player yet – but it *should* be obvious what moves are happening.

    Adobe was hellbent on getting Flash to work on mobile because they *had* to… if website content didn’t work on this new growing base of web browsers, then website owners everywhere would reassess the use of Flash at all. Instead, they’d do the extra work to make an all HTML version of their navbar, ad, or video that would work on both mobile and the desktop web.

    This in fact has been happening in masses. I can’t tell you how many web developers I’ve talked to are taking website re-write gigs because a customers’s mid-2000′s nav bar won’t work on an iPad or phone browser.

    Because it’s not on mobile, Flash immediately isn’t a viable solution anymore for desktop web content.

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    1. I agree, that’s what this move means as future prospect. Flash now is only viable on desktop web in those projects where HTML5 can’t deliver and will not be able to deliver for some time bet it games or some other rich client side multimedia apps.
      Its sad that HTML5 can’t quite deliver yet :(

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  6. Again, another misleading title for a blog entry/article. Support and development for the Flash player in web browsers and Flash video is not affected. It is the development of “applications” in the Flash environment that is being pulled away from.

    Apparently, Adobe feels that the AIR platform is more robust and tailored for application development than Flash.

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  7. Google knows more than you could have imagined!!!! Do you already know about the new revolutionary product Google announced?! Think Insights! Learn more

    http://www.coldscoop.com/2011/11/10/think-insights-google%E2%80%99s-gift-for-digital-marketers-and-data-addicts/

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  8. Steve Job was right. He didn’t allow Flash to run on iPhone, etc.

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  9. Ignacio Iribarne Thursday, November 10, 2011

    It’s curious that this comes at a time when GoogleTV recently announced a major update to Android 3.1, which unlike the previous GoogleTV v1 (Android 2.1), now has native support for HLS (HTTP Live Streaming), the open source protocol that Apple created to replace Flash for video streaming on all iOS devices… Is it just coincidence that while GoogleTV was running v1, and the only way of delivering live video within the browser was using Flash, Adobe stated:

    “The digital home is a huge step for Flash and it represents an amazing new screen for developers and content creators to bring rich interactive content to the TV.”

    http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplatform/2010/05/flash_player_101_on_google_tv.html

    And now that GoogleTV does have a solid alternative, and it’s actually the same alternative that Apple used from the beginning (and probably an alternative other vendors will use too), Adobe states:

    “However we believe the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a web browsing experience”

    Perhaps we should read between the lines… Adobe is basically saying: if our Flash platform is the only available option, then the future of connected TVs is Flash; if an alternative to Flash (specially one created by Apple) comes in place, then Flash is dead, the browser for connected TVs is dead, and we should all start developing apps instead -using Adobe AIR, of course!

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  10. I think there are some nuances getting lost here. Flash on a TV exists as either: a standalone runtime or a browser plug-in. It sounds like they are dropping the plug-in not the runtime.

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  11. Nikato Muirhead Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The next step will be to abandon flash on PC’s and Macs, you wait and see.!!!
    Steve Jobs is dancing in his grave.
    Macs will be crash-free again. !!!

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  12. Java will remain the major player in this space. It’s under the covers in every Blu-ray Disc player and many cable and broadcast set-top boxes. While it doesn’t offer the UI ease-of-development which Flash does/did, it’s got a more flexible architecture which is proving particularly valuable where you want to provide connectivity to a second screen (e.g. tablet or smartphone), where a Java-based DLNA media server or web server can serve up content.

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  13. Yes, the browser plugin is being dropped, and not the runtime, but not for technical reasons; it’s simply because companies like Adobe don’t want to loose power over the consumer. A browser plugin is more easily replaceable, since after all, the overall framework is being handled by the browser (think Flash plugin to open source HTML5 transition). The runtime is used by stand-alone apps, which, unlike a standard browser, can have a much higher degree of control over the consumer, at the cost of severely limiting our choices.

    Chipset manufacturers love the app-based paradigm because they can retain intellectual propery rights over more functions of their chips, selling separate licenses to integrators (DRM, video/audio codecs, HW acceleration). Big media companies also embrace the app-based paradigm because they still believe it can help them reduce piracy, as opposed to delivering content via open source browser standards. And hardware integrators such as the ones that manufacture OTT set-top boxes or smart TVs also adhere to the same paradigm, because they mistakenly think it will give greater power for their platforms.

    And who is the one loosing? The consumer. To make a simple comparison, can you imagine what the Internet would have been if the consumers had been forced to download and install an app for each website they wanted to access? Anyone wanting to read this blog, for instance, would have been forced to download and install a “Gigaom App”. And anyone wanting to read any of the external links of the same blog would have been forced to install another “X App” too.

    But what’s even more dangerous is that the key element that holds the concept of what the Internet is today would have never existed: search capability. The consumers who had the “Gigaom App” installed would have been able to search -but only within this particular content provider network.

    It’s almost impossible to imagine that the Internet could have become what it is today without the role of browsers and cross-compliant standards like HTML.

    This is directly related to Adobe’s latest moves, and also to how big media companies have turned their backs on GoogleTV, because it shows how some traditional market dominators are afraid of loosing control over the consumer.

    Adobe realized that if they continued to promote the browser-based paradigm (like they continuously did since their partnership with GoogleTV was announced), the paradigm would one day, inevitably, transition to an open source, cross-compliant standard, like HTML5. Think of all the video websites that are either evaluating HTML5 as an alternative to Flash, or that have completely dropped Flash support. So instead, Adobe now claims that “the right approach to deliver content on televisions is through applications, not a web browsing experience”. The application approach is simply a closed one, where there is little or no cross-compliant standard.

    GoogleTV was actually the first OTT project to seriously consider the role of a web-browser for its platform, allowing the consumer to freely choose the content, and even providing an open-source SDK to build channels optimized for OTT, not only compatible with GoogleTV, but with any HTML5 compliant browser. Without a cross-compliant browser experience, and with the burden of forcing the consumer to download and install a stand-alone application per each content provider, the OTT or “connected TV” market will remain as it is today: a highly fragmented technology that fails to promote the creation of new and innovative content (just think what the big players like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu are providing in terms of content: exactly the same that is broadcasted through traditional networks).

    The role of a cross-compliant web browser is extremely important for the evolution of OTT television, and the latest Adobe’s announcement should simply force us to question: who needs Flash anyway? Hopefully other manufacturers with more vision than Logitech will understand the importance of the GoogleTV project for the long term, and Google itself will continue to improve the integration between Chrome and Android, replacing Flash with HTML5 + HLS.

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  14. (11/18/2011) – today’s number #1 #heartbeat http://t.co/LK1uPA19 (via http://t.co/5Tpqs3Gf) #japira

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  15. RT @xguru: 어도비의 모바일 플래시포기는 단순히 모바일뿐만이 아니라 TV에서의 플래시도 포기하는것 http://t.co/BNmuqInG 마치 깨진 유리창을 보는것 같군요.

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  16. But pushing #AIR: "Not just mobile: Adobe is abandoning #Flash on TVs as well" http://t.co/QtmSCQaS #RIA

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