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Why Adobe might fail with Flash 10.1 on Android

Adobe Flash 10.1 was officially released at the end of June for Android phones. However, I have not seen any existence of a release even up to now. The reason? Adobe decided to let the phone manufacturers release Flash 10.1 with their Android 2.2 update.

Original Plan

When Google announced the capabilities and availability of Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta during Google IO a few months ago, it was impressive and running smoothly on the Nexus One. Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta was available on the Android Market for phones. Those Android 2.2 capable phones, like the leaked version of Android 2.2 on the Nexus One, were able to download this installation directly from the Android Market and get Adobe Flash 10.1 on their phones. All was good, and I thought Adobe was going to release their Adobe Flash 10.1 similarly, allowing consumers to download or more importantly update their Flash player.

Failed Strategy

During the times of Adobe Flash Lite, when Adobe half heartedly released a mobile version of their Flash player, Adobe let manufacturers decide and test whether if their phones were capable of running Flash Lite. The onus was on the phone manufacturers to make sure that Flash Lite worked properly. Adobe did not manage this properly and manufacturers didn’t have any incentives to actually provide a good Flash experience, which resulted in an utter failure of Flash Lite in majority of the phones out there. Then Apple came and said Adobe Flash is redundant in today’s web. Adobe defended but damage was already done.

Lessons not learnt

Google had the same problems with Google Maps and other Google applications that came with the phone. It was bundled together with Android 1.5 and that made it difficult for Google to quickly fix bugs, release new features to older versions that aren’t yet obsolete. Google realized this and separated their Google Maps and other Google applications bundled with the phone with their Android operating system, released it on the Android market, and controlling the updates and releases to their different phones and OS versions. Now, consumers benefit from the constant updates of Google Maps, keeping their phones relevant and updated without relying on the sluggish speed of manufacturers pushing out updates.

Adobe, once tried and failed, is again making the same mistake by giving the power to the phone manufacturers to distribute Flash 10.1 for Android.

Possible Comeback

As seen by Google’s success with unbundling their apps away from the manufacturers and the Android operating system, Google has successfully fixed bugs and update their Google Maps and other apps quickly, bringing new features constantly, out-of-band from the manufacturers’ updates.

Proven and successful by Google, Adobe should distribute their Adobe Flash 10.1 for Android through the manufactures during the Android 2.2 Froyo update, together with offering it on the Android Market for those Adobe Flash 10.1 capable phones to install, should the manufacturers somehow not distribute or deliver a quality build. This allows the distribution, and the ability to update new versions and bug fixes to your consumers directly without being at the mercy of phone manufacturers.

Vote of No Confidence

I was once a supporter of Flash being on smart phones, but with the availability of Adobe Flash 10.1 for Android not dictated by Adobe, I’ve lost all confidence in Adobe. Until they start distributing their Adobe Flash 10.1 for Android through the market, I will support Apple’s position to use HTML5 for mobile device development instead of even considering the possibility of Flash.

For those who own the Nexus One and got the Froyo update, I’m sad to say you might not get the full goodness of Flash 10.1 Final except from what they currently have on the market, Adobe Flash 10.1 BETA 3, which might be good enough. Unless Google decides to push it out as an update.

About Justin Lee

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