BARCELONA (Reuters) - Adobe announced advances to its popular Flash video player that promise to improve the experience of watching video on a mobile, and said it would support Google’s Android phone platform.
Adobe, whose Flash software delivers most video viewed online and made YouTube possible, also said it believed Apple would eventually bow to market pressure and include Flash on the iPhone and the new iPad tablet computer.
Adobe has been racing to keep pace with a proliferation of smartphones, netbooks and now tablet PCs, all with different specifications, and has built an alliance of industry leaders to work on making Web browsing consistent across devices.
The environment has been further complicated by players like Apple, Nokia and Vodafone rolling out their own software application stores, opening up proprietary distribution channels that compete with simply browsing the Web.
David Wadhwani, who runs Adobe’s Platform business, said Adobe would continue to support both ways of distributing Flash. It has already published tools that offer developers a way to convert Flash applications into ones that work on the iPhone.
“We personally believe very strongly that open distribution will be the model that will prevail, but we’re agnostic,” he told Reuters. “Ultimately, the consumer will decide.”
On Monday, at the start of the week-long Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Adobe unveiled Adobe AIR for mobile devices, which provides developers tools to create Flash applications to be delivered through application stores for a variety of devices.
It also announced a trial version of Flash Player 10.1, which for the first time provides a single kit for developers to deliver Flash applications via the Web to any screen, including desktop PCs, notebooks and phones.
Adapting power-hungry video applications that work well on desktop PCs to mobile devices that have more limited memory and processing power has posed a major challenge. Running such applications also can quickly drain batteries.
Apple has until now rejected Flash on these grounds, and has also said Flash is “buggy,” blaming it for instances of its Mac computers crashing -- although almost every other device manufacturer, including hundreds of brand names -- supports it.
Wadhwani said: “We reject the accusation that Flash is buggy,” and pointed to the fact that Apple makes money when consumers buy through the App Store, but not when they access content via their Web browser.
“Apple would like to move rich content off the Web and into their App Store, where they can more readily monetise it,” he said. Rich content refers to multimedia applications that contain a mix of colorful graphics, photos or video.
“I suspect that what will happen is that as we have more devices in the market... Apple will have more market pressure to include Flash on the iPhone,” he said.
Editing by Mike Nesbit