We’re still pondering the ramifications of Adobe’s sundry smartphone announcements yesterday, and think we may see more to come in the Apple/Adobe/Flash story in future.
We know Adobe has introduced a feature for Flash developers which lets them purpose versions of their applications for the iPhone. The upcoming version of Flash CS5 will allow you the option to "Export Project to native iPhone application." While Apple hasn’t yet uttered comment on this, we’re hopeful the company will not oppose the first third-party development IDE for its device.
We’re most intrigued, however, by ARM’s announcement that they have optimised Adobe Flash Player 10.1 on ARM-powered devices as part of the Open Screen Project.
Specifically, ARM has introduced Flash Player support on its ARM Cortex-A-powered devices. We’ve predicted before that the ARM Cortex-A processor seems likely (albeit in a PA Semi-customised version) to be deployed in a future Apple tablet, and potentially in future iPhones.
Apple has said in the past that it isn’t happy with the speed and performance of Flash on mobile devices. Introducing on-chip support should help remove that road block, typically characterised as symptomatic of some grudge match between Apple and Adobe.
Also, because the support is on the processor, this could potentially side-step Apple’s decision not to enable iPhone apps to call on other iPhone apps in order to achieve things. If your Safari browser tries to view Flash-based content on the Web, then Safari won’t need to command help from a Flash application, but from the processor itself. That’s our understanding, and of course Apple will need to approve and support this operation.
"By bringing the full Flash Player to the broad range of ARM Cortex-A powered devices, consumers will experience uncompromised Web browsing of rich applications, content, and high definition video across a broad range of devices, from PCs and smartphones to digital televisions and netbooks," says ARM.
"Delivering a highly responsive, uncompromised Web and rich media experience to consumer devices and the digital home is a key focus for ARM", says Ian Drew, EVP of Marketing, ARM.
We do note Apple’s conspicuous absence from the roll call of companies who have signed-up to use Flash on their mobile devices yesterday. But with ARM implementing this support in Cortex, it’s open to question whether Apple will continue resistance or move to expand the facility of its product simply by enabling a feature that’s built-into the chip it may well be using in a future product anyway.
There is another consideration: Apple is extremely active in development of the HTTP 5 media streaming protocols. These side-step applications such as Flash or Silverlight to enable multimedia efforts unaided through the Web browser itself.
However, given that the multimedia landscape is fractured, with assets consumers want access to available in a myriad of formats, will Apple move to a more open approach, offering recognition to Adobe for the work it has done to make Flash more effective on mobile devices, or will Flash on smartphones become a new battleground in the increasingly competitive industry?