Ironically, though, Apple’s iPhone is absent from the list of devices that will support the new Flash player. Adobe says that the terms of the license for iPhone software developers mean that it can’t offer Flash Player for the device without support from Apple. Greengart of Current Analysis suspects that Apple either wants to work on implementing Flash at its own pace or has plans for its own competing technology. He expects Apple to reveal its plans by early 2010, since lacking Flash is a competitive disadvantage. Meanwhile, plans are under way to include it in Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian, Palm WebOS, and Blackberry devices.
Flash isn’t the only means for bringing richer Web content, such as embedded video and interactive content, to portable devices. The World Wide Web Consortium has been working on a new Web markup standard, HTML 5, that will handle a wider variety of content without requiring plug-ins. HTML 5 could present a threat to Adobe’s Flash platform, says CCS Insight’s Wood, but he thinks the resulting competition will ultimately be good for the end user, since it should help lead to the same Web on a mobile device as on a desktop computer. For now, many developers still have to build applications tuned to specific mobile devices, but Wood says that technologies such as Flash 10.1 and HTML 5 will trigger a “tipping point.”
Once both technologies are in place on mobile devices, Wood expects to see developers move toward offering more applications and services via the Web. “I think [this] will define the future of how applications manifest themselves on devices,” he says.
Adobe plans to make the new Flash platform available to developers working with Windows Mobile, Palm WebOS, and desktop PCs by the end of this year, and to Android and Symbian developers by the beginning of next year. The company expects the first devices featuring the Flash player to hit the market in early 2010.