Adobe Pushes for a Flash-ier Mobile Web
The Web browsers on such smartphones as Apple's iPhone, devices running Google's Android software and the Palm Pre (all based on the same open-source code framework) do an outstanding job of presenting full-sized Web pages, with one exception -- displaying most Flash interactive content. You can watch YouTube video clips in separate applications, but that's about it.
This morning, Flash developer Adobe Systems Inc. announced plans to change that -- the upcoming 10.1 version of the Flash player will ship not just for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but also for such mobile-phone platforms as Android, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Palm's webOS, and Nokia's Symbian. This new release, unlike the Flash Lite software available on some phones today, shouldn't be limited to running special, simplified Flash animations.
San Jose-based Adobe has also set up an Open Screen Project initiative with phone software and hardware vendors, Flash developers and media companies "to enable the delivery of rich multiscreen experiences built on a consistent runtime environment for open web browsing and standalone applications."
Apple, however, is not joining Adobe in this effort. It's never supported Flash on the iPhone, objecting to the Flash player's processing and memory requirements, and it counsels Web developers looking to create iPhone-friendly sites to provide interactive features through existing, open Web standards instead of Flash.
Will the lack of Flash start to set back the iPhone? It hasn't so far, and I'm not sure that Flash 10.1 will change that. On the desktop, the Flash plug-in can gum up a browser faster than any other piece of Web content (especially, it seems, on a Mac), is frequently targeted by malware writers and can also be a pain to keep up to date. I don't need a mobile version if it will inherit those traits.
Flash has also enabled some of the Web's most annoying, if not outright abusive, content: the animated site introductions that fill your browser's screen and play an unwanted soundtrack when you only wanted to see a restaurant's menu or learn about the new apartment building going up down the street. (Note: Please don't click the last link with your computer's speakers turned up at work.)
Are you anxious to bring Flash to the mobile Web, even if it means being subjected to some over-eager Web coder's song-and-dance routine? Or would you rather do without it on the go, even if that means having to switch to a "real" computer to use some Web sites' features?
October 5, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
Categories: Gadgets , The Web
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