While Adobe has gained an Apple reprieve to package apps in Flash, it knows that its relationship with Apple can’t be counted on for future growth.
So the company announced today a new version of Adobe AIR 2.5 that will include expanded capabilities on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS and Apple iOS; Windows, Mac and Linux; as well as support for televisions. Adobe is also launching a new market for Adobe AIR apps called InMarket, which will work alongside existing app stores. AIR is a runtime that allows developers to build apps that exist outside of a browser.
With a new version of AIR 2.5, Adobe is attempting to give its developers a wide array of opportunities to build apps once and have them run on multiple platforms with minimal porting work. In essence, Adobe is hoping its Flash tools will be the starting point for apps across every screen facing consumers. This portability is important for Adobe to maintain developer momentum and to keep devs from building apps with other tools or web apps in HTML5. Adobe AIR 2.5 also signals even more coziness between Adobe and Google, which has welcomed Adobe’s Flash with open arms for its Android mobile platform.
Adobe, if you recall, already released a version of AIR on Android earlier this month. But that was limited to Android 2.2 devices and needed to be downloaded. AIR 2.5 will be available widely on Android devices and will get pre-installed on a number of devices from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and RIM. AIR will also support hardware features, such as accelerometers, still and videocameras, microphones, GPS chips and multi-touch screens. Samsung is the first TV maker to commit to AIR 2.5 and will include the runtime in its SmartTV line of displays.
I don’t expect Adobe InMarket to integrate with Apple’s App Store, nor do I expect AIR apps to run on iOS devices considering Apple’s tight controls. Including AIR 2.5 support for iOS may be a case of wishful thinking by Adobe, though Flash developers can still develop iOS apps using Adobe’s iPhone packager. But for AIR apps on other platforms, InMarket could be another nice way to kick up app sales, especially if Adobe spends some money on marketing. Currently, InMarket only works with Intel’s AppUp market. Developers will get 70 percent of the revenue and Adobe will take care of credit card processing, hosting, and marketing.
Adobe AIR 2.5 — as well as an SDK for Android and desktop operating systems including Windows, Macintosh and Linux — are available today. A BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK for Adobe AIR is also available from RIM today while the runtime will ship with the BlackBerry Playbook next year.
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