Adobe Says Air & Flash Are Winning Over Developers

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Adobe has acknowledged that there’s a war going on for developers, and it believes it has some increasingly popular weapons to win the hearts of mobile developers in Adobe Air and Flash. On the eve of the Mobile World Congress, the company shared some statistics about Air and Flash, hoping to get developers to see the value in its cross-platform tools.

Adobe said Adobe Air applications are now able to run on more than 84 million smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS, and by the end of 2011, it expects more than 200 million smartphones and tablets will support Adobe Air applications. Developers have built thousands of Air apps, including 1,500 apps for Android Market in the first two months since Air apps became available there in October. It’s unclear how many times the apps have been downloaded, but Adobe said Air has been downloaded 1 million times on Android. (Consumers need to download Air in order to run Air apps).

Adobe said more than 20 million of the smartphones shipped in 2010 had Flash Player 10.1 installed, with more than 6 million downloads of browser plug-in in the Android Market. This year, the company expects more than 132 million smartphones to have Flash Player installed, including 40 percent of all smartphones shipped in the first half of the year, while more than 50 tablets will ship or be able to download Flash Player. RIM’s Tablet OS and HP’s webOS platform will join Android in supporting Flash when they launch. Adobe is showcasing its newly released Flash 10.2 at the Mobile World Congress and will be highlighting Stage Video, its technology for improving video performance through hardware acceleration. Stage Video, which is supported on Android 3.0 and BlackBerry Tablet OS, offers more efficient use of the processor and memory and should improve battery life, one of the big knocks on Flash.

Anup Murarka, director of product marketing, said the demands of developers to support more platforms is growing, highlighting the need for tools that can help developers leverage their work. With an army of tablets running Android and potential iPad challengers in the BlackBerry Playbook and HP TouchPad, which will largely support Adobe runtimes, Adobe thinks it’s in a good place to benefit from the tablet boom. The company has been harping on its cross-platform tools, but it now believes it’s getting enough reach and performance to really be compelling for mobile developers.

Adobe still faces a challenge in trying to evangelize its tools. While the company feels it can help developers make apps that stand toe-to-toe with native apps, it has to overcome the perception that Air and Flash apps don’t perform as well as native apps and make as good of use of the hardware. Adobe will probably never match the performance of native apps, but with new platforms emerging and the market for apps expected to hit $15 billion this year, it makes sense for Adobe to continue to play up its cross-platform potential and hope eager developers short on time and cash respond.

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