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Adobe ships Flash 10.1 to mobile device makers


Adobe on Tuesday announced the release of Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile, pitching it as "the first release that brings the full Web across desktops and devices."

Adobe said that Flash Player 10.1 will be available as a final production release for Android-based smartphones and tablets once users are able to upgrade to Android 2.2, dubbed "Froyo." The mobile version of Flash was also released to platform partners to be supported on devices based on BlackBerry, webOS, future versions of Windows Phone, LiMo, MeeGo and Symbian OS.

"We are thrilled that more than three million Flash designers and developers are now able to unleash their creativity on the world of smart phones, tablets, netbooks, televisions and other consumer electronics," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president, Platform Business at Adobe. "The combined power of the leading rich media technology platform with millions of passionate creatives is sure to impact the world in ways we haven’t even imagined yet."

Android devices expected to support both Android 2.2 and Flash Player 10.1 in the near future are the Dell Streak, Google Nexus One, HTC Evo, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible, Motorola Droid, Motorola Milestone and Samsung Galaxy S.

"We are excited that Android is the first mobile platform to support the full Flash Player," said Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering at Google. "Now mobile users can browse the full Web on their smart phones, and Android developers can use industry-leading tools to create immersive experiences on the Web."

Adobe originally intended to release Flash 10.1 in the second half of 2009, but it was later pushed to the first half of 2010. In April, the company revealed that its new mobile Flash player would slip to the second half of 2010, but Tuesday's release would suggest that the delay was not as significant as was originally anticipated.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs noted Adobe's delays earlier this month at the All Things D conference, when he was interviewed by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of The Wall Street Journal. Jobs noted that there are no smartphones shipping with Flash installed, to which Mossberg responded that there "will be."

"Well, there 'will be' for the last two or three years," Jobs quipped. "But HTML5 is starting to emerge."

Jobs also noted that his company has a history of abandoning technology it feels is on the way out, noting that they were one of the first to get rid of optical drives with the MacBook Air.

"When we do this, sometimes people call us crazy," he said. "Sometimes you have to pick the right horses. Flash looks like it had its day but it's waning, and HTML5 loos like it's coming up."

While Apple has banned Flash from its devices powered by the iPhone OS, including the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, it has embraced HTML5. The exclusion of Flash has been pegged by Apple on the Web format's alleged instability and high power consumption in mobile devices. The fight between the two companies has been a matter of considerable debate, but many major Web sites have turned to HTML5 since the release of the iPad.

In addition to banning Flash from its mobile Web browsers, Apple also changed the iPhone developer agreement to ban third-party tools that would allow software to be ported from other formats, like Adobe Flash, to native iPhone OS software. Jobs said such tools would result in substandard applications on the Apple-controlled App Store. Those changes have come under federal scrutiny, as the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are considering an antitrust inquiry into the matter.

The desktop counterpart of Flash Player 10.1 for Mac shipped earlier this month after more than six months of beta testing. The plugin works with Firefox, Opera, and Safari browsers, but it does not yet include official support for hardware video acceleration. Users who want early hardware acceleration must download Adobe's preview release of "Gala" H.264 hardware decoding, allowing Flash videos to play more efficiently on Macs.