At this weeks Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (which started today), Adobe Systems announced that they will be releasing their first full-blown Flash player 10 for smartphones by the end of the year.
As per Adobe, companies like Google, Microsoft, Palm and Nokia are all expected to release platforms or phones next year that will be able to display the same videos and applications just like computers.
However, there was no mention of Apple or Apple's iPhone in Adobe's announcement.
Adobe announced that:
Flash Player 10, which is the full version of Flash that runs on computers will be available on smartphones running Windows Mobile, Google's Android, Nokia S60/Symbian, and the new Palm operating systems. Devices with Flash Player 10 are expected to hit the market starting in early 2010.
Adobe said that it was “not close to delivering Flash players that would work with Apple Inc.’s iPhone or Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry,”
Anup Murarka, director of partner development and technology strategy for Adobe's platform business unit said:
"We've made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot of engineering work to be done".
He added: “We’re working with Apple on what we have,” Murarka said. “We’re committed to make the Flash plug-in work on the iPhone.” And with RIM,
I thought the news about Apple and Adobe working together to bring Flash to the iPhone would end the year long saga between Adobe and Apple of bringing Adobe's Flash player to the iPhone, one of the most requested features by iPhone users since its launch. However, the blogosphere seems to believe that based on today's announcement, the saga might be far from over.
Mashable wrote Flash On Most Smartphones: Not Yet. Flash on the iPhone: Maybe Never while Fred Wilson at Silicon Alley Insider asked the question: Does Apple Have A Blind Spot About Flash? and top blogger, Scobleizer wanted to know if Adobe had snubbed Apple with FlashPlayer 10, Palm Pre, and Development Fund announcements.
The analysts also seem to have differing opinions. Stewart Robinson, an analyst with Strategy Analytics in the U.K is optimistic of Adobe Flash player coming to the iPhone. He believes Adobe is "working frantically behind the scenes to get Flash onto the iPhone … it will happen, but not until much later this year."
But Jack Gold, an independent analyst with J. Gold Associates, is less optimistic. He gives two reasons for his lack of optimism:
The first one is techincal: "Adobe wants Flash to run really well. To get high performance, you need to run in the lower layers of the OS or phone. Windows Mobile, Nokia's Symbian and Googles Android are relatively open to that, but OSes such as those on the BlackBerry and iPhone are not."
The second is more to do with Apple business goals: "Apple wants to push its own technology, in this case, QuickTime. It has its own interests at heart. Look at how long it took to get Flash onto Macs. I honestly don't think you will see Flash on the iPhone anytime soon."
I guess the speculations will continue but let's face it, its a win-win or lose-lose situation for Apple and Adobe. If they don't bring Flash Player to the iPhone, Apple will give users another reason to buy the upcoming Palm Pre while for Adobe their next big move to bring Flash to smartphones will have a gaping hole if Apple's iPhone, the most popular smartphone is not in the list of smartphones which supports Flash 10.
There is still lot of time left for them to get Flash to work on the iPhone; not to mention the rumors of the next generation iPhone which should come with improved hardware and based on what we know about Apple, they like to make such major announcements when they are on the podium rather than their partners making them on their own.
So I would still like to believe that Apple and Adobe working together to bring Flash to the iPhone and some of the statements made by Adobe's Anup Murarka clearly indicate that, we just need to be patient.
What do you think? Is Flash on the iPhone such a big deal? Will it be a deal-breaker if you are planning to buy a smartphone? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.