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Adobe Delivers Flash Player 10.1 But Most People Can’t Use It

Adobe (s adbe) today released Flash Player 10.1 for mobile, just barely meeting prior expectations for a mid-year delivery. The final version of the software, previously available in several beta releases, runs on Google (s goog) Android 2.2 — aka Froyo — devices, which is currently limited to a small subset of Google Nexus One handsets. Adobe says that other platforms — BlackBerry (s rimm), webOS (s palm), future versions of Windows Phone (s msft), LiMo, MeeGo and Symbian OS (s nok) — are expected to support Flash in the future.

The key word in Adobe’s press release today being “expected,” which appears three times. Platforms other than Android are expected to integrate and work with Flash Player. All of the latest Android handsets are expected to see Froyo, which is required for Flash Player 10.1. The production version of Flash is expected to be available as a final production release for Froyo devices. Translation: Adobe hasn’t delivered anything to most handsets today and the fate of Flash Player is increasingly out of Adobe’s hands.

Adobe has clearly moved forward its mobile version of Flash over the past several years, but it faces a time crunch. Just as Flash Player 10.1 is beginning to slowly find its way on mobile devices, content creators have started to hedge against a Flash-less future by encoding videos for HTML 5 playback support. Indeed, while Flash is used for far more than viewing video, that’s long been a main reason end users have craved support for it on mobiles.

But Apple (s aapl) has forsaken Flash on the new iPad — a device primarily geared for content consumption — in favor of HTML 5, yet still sold 2 million units of the tablet in the first two months. And 600,000 pre-ordered Flash-less iPhone 4s will make their way into their new owners’ hands any day now.

I have Froyo on my Google Nexus One, so I’ve had a beta of Flash Player on my handset for several weeks. (Note that I don’t yet see the final version of the software in the Android Market.) I can view or interact with Flash-based charts and I’ve watched the occasional Flash video as well. My handset heats up a bit for those videos and I haven’t used the software enough to determine the full impact on battery, but this is beta software, so it’s unfair to be too critical of the product. The final release promises high-performance features, per today’s announcement:

Flash Player 10.1 delivers new interaction methods with support for mobile-specific input models. Support for accelerometer allows users to view Flash content in landscape and portrait mode. With Smart Zooming, users can scale content to full screen mode delivering immersive application-like experiences from a Web page. Performance optimization work with virtually all major mobile silicon and platform vendors makes efficient use of CPU and battery performance.

Unfortunately, promises and expectations are all that most smartphone device owners have seen so far. It’s all well and good to manage expectations, but the best way to do so is to deliver tangible results. The longer Adobe takes to get Flash on mobile devices, the more convinced content creators will be to give up on the platform.

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9 Responses to “Adobe Delivers Flash Player 10.1 But Most People Can’t Use It”

  1. “Translation: Adobe hasn’t delivered anything to most handsets today and the fate of Flash Player is increasingly out of Adobe’s hands.”

    Yet Adobe is saying they delivered Flash Player 10.1 to all their partners. I’m guessing you meant to say: “Adobe has delivered Flash Player 10.1 to most handset makers today and the fate of Flash Player is increasingly out of Adobe’s hands.”

    That said, the reason that Adobe has gotten so many other companies on board including Microsoft, is because it’s not available on Apple’s iPhone. Most companies want to get Flash onto their device as quickly as possible so that they can have a selling point of doing something that the iPhone cannot. So I imagine it won’t be too long before devices are shipping with Flash Player 10.1 Whether or not having Flash on these devices proves to be selling point, remains to be seen.

  2. According to Google there are 100,000 Android phones being activated every day. Most of those phones will have Flash enabled phones by the end of the year. At the current rate of adoption there will be more Android devices than iPhone phones in less than a year.

    • Correct, at Google I/O, it was reported that 100,000 Android handsets are activated daily. However, using that number to justify the number of Flash devices would be seriously flawed. Here’s why:

      At last check, Android phones in the market were evenly split between versions 1.5, 1.6 and 2.1. And Flash will only run on Android 2.2, of which essentially none of the 100,000 Android phones each day add to the number of Android devices that are Flash-capable.

      Between now and the end of this year, I certainly expect Android devices to be running Flash – the Google Nexus One will be among the first, but with sales estimates of around 150,000 or so, that’s a drop in the bucket. Consumers will either need to purchase an Android 2.2 phone (there aren’t any right now) or wait for their current Android handset to gain the Froyo update, which is highly dependent on the carrier.

      • Matt Liotta

        Excellent analysis. Adobe needs to just stop setting expectations and start delivering. Apple keeps digging a bigger hole for Adobe, while Adobe keeps describing a bright future it has no control over.

        The Flash war with Apple may not be over, but Adobe should at least try to win a battle.

    • 100,000 Android devices every day means 3 million every month. In a year that will make 36 million Android devices. If Apple stops making iPhones and iPod Touches and iPads, Android will catch up with the 100 million iDevices in 3 years. But in reality Apple sells more than 3 million iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads every month. So the lead is growing…