RIM's PlayBook Will Continue to Support Adobe Flash

RIM plans to stick with Adobe Flash support for its PlayBook tablet, despite Adobe announcing plans to stop investing in Flash for mobile browsing.

Download the authoritative guide: How to Develop an IT Security Strategy

Research In Motion is sticking with Flash for its PlayBook tablet, despite Adobe announcing plans to end future development of the plug-in, which is used by many Websites to deliver rich content.

"Earlier today, Adobe announced plans to stop investing in Flash for mobile browsing, and focus more efforts on HTML5," Dan Dodge, president and CEO of QNX, wrote in a Nov. 9 statement posted on RIM's corporate blog. "As an Adobe source-code licensee, we will continue to work on and release our own implementations, and are looking forward to including Flash 11.1 for the BlackBerry PlayBook."

RIM's PlayBook relies on a QNX-based operating system. The 7-inch device has attracted anemic sales in the eight months since its release, although RIM executives keep insisting they will continue to support the platform.

The PlayBook's browser supports both Flash and HTML5, Dodge added. "We are pleased that Adobe will focus its efforts on next-generation Flash-based apps delivered via AIR and BlackBerry App World as well as the great opportunities that HTML5 presents for our developers."

For months, RIM and other tablet makers touted their devices' Flash support as a key differentiator from Apple's iPad, which does not support the plug-in. Now that Adobe has pulled an abrupt about-face, however, it remains to be seen whether those tablets' marketing campaigns will continue to emphasize Flash.

RIM plans on delivering a long-awaited software update to the PlayBook in February 2012. According to the company, it will include integrated email, a "new video store," calendar and contact applications, and better tethering between the tablet and a user's BlackBerry. RIM is also tweaking the device's manageability options and enterprise application deployment, with plans for a separate area within BlackBerry App World for enterprise applications. However, a BlackBerry Messenger application native to the PlayBook is apparently not forthcoming in the near future.

Another question is whether the PlayBook software update will coincide with RIM's planned release of BBX, the QNX-based operating system designed to replace the long-running BlackBerry OS. RIM hopes an upcoming generation of "superphones" running BBX will help the company regain traction as a viable competitor to Apple's iOS, Google Android and Windows Phone.

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter