Google, Adobe Prepare Flash for 'Ice Cream Sandwich'
Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) may be winding down the clock on its mobile Flash multimedia software, but it's still going to be available to support Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) new Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" smartphones and tablets.
It's fair to call support for ICS mobile Flash Player's swan song, as Greg DeMichillie, senior director of product management for Interactive Development at Adobe, told eWEEK:
"Adobe will release one more version of the Flash Player for mobile browsing, which will provide support for Android 4.0, and one more release of the Flash Linux Porting Kit-both expected to be released before the end of this year. After that time, Adobe will continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates."
After that, you can expect to see Adobe's Interactive Development team kick the creation of multimedia-enabling software kits for HTML5, Flash's eventual replacement, into high gear. Indeed, as Danny Winokur, vice president and general manager of interactive development at Adobe, said in a blog post Nov. 9:
"HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively. This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers."
IDC analyst Al Hilwa told eWEEK about Adobe's ICS announcement:
"Adobe seems to have clarified its position a bit more precisely on when mobile Flash R&D might wind down. Clearly they are committed to critical bug support, but my sense of it is that Adobe would love it if Google would grab the R&D mantle for Flash in Android and take it forward as an integrated part of the platform."
That is unlikely to happen.
As supportive as Google was of Flash in talking to the press since it began supporting mobile Flash Player on Android 2.2 "Froyo" smartphones and tablets since 2010, the company did so largely because it was holding to the OEM line that Flash was a core differentiator from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and iPad, which do not support Flash.
As eWEEK already noted, Google is quite, yet quietly, excited about the discontinuation of mobile Flash. The company has been retooling some of its core applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail and Calendars, around HTML5 for the last two years.
Google is experimenting with some of the prettier, eye-candy elements of HTML5 for its Chrome Web browser. Indeed, Chrome Experiments is a showcase for creative Web experiments, most of which are built with the HTML5 and other newfangled technologies of its ilk.
In the meantime, Verizon Wireless is expected to launch the Samsung Galaxy Nexus ICS phone in the United States within the next two weeks. Presumably, Flash will come to the phone shortly after that; by the time the Galaxy Nexus arrives, there will only be a few more weeks until the new year.