Adobe Flash Strategy for Mobile Devices

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Adobe’s recent announcement of a new Flash platform strategy for mobile devices have created quite a stir in the industry. The reason for this is the communications gap and misunderstanding which has been primarily caused by Adobe itself. Subsequent Adobe’s explanations have dispelled many fears and exaggerations perpetrated by tabloids. In this post, we’ll look at future developments and their impact on the online video projects.

Above all, let’s note that Flash, in its most general sense, consists not just of the Flash Player plugin for browsers, but also of the AIR runtime environment. So, essentially the announcement means that the browser versions of interactive projects for mobile devices and TVs will no longer be supported due to underdemand. On the contrary, Adobe decided to focus on the development of mobile and TV applications, enabling even more fascinating software on the new platforms. Therefore, the rumors of Flash no longer available on mobile devices are highly exaggerated. There will be no Flash Player content on the Android browser, but there will be more opportunities to create mobile applications (AIR is already available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry). The reason behind the Adobe’s decision is well explained in the Mike Chambers blog.

This Adobe’s step has mostly positive implications for the online video services. Now we are going to discuss these implications in more detail. First of all, I’d like to note that in one of his posts Kevin Towes alluded to Adobe’s plans to build an HTML5 DRM solution (before that, such an idea seemed unimplementable for me). Perhaps, this is really the inception of a cross-platform DRM solution that will help portals to avoid storing of multiple copies of content (for different DRM systems) and eliminate infrastructure redundancy.

The rise of investment on developing of HTML5 video and applications for mobile devices and Connected TV are likely to engender new technical capabilities of online video services and solve some existing problems. The negative consequences are possible only if extensive use of the Flash Player plugin was planned. In fact, there are two situations where this may apply:

  • An online video service plays back the content in the browser. Many studios say that this is not the best idea for content viewing.
  • An online video service is based on the Web Application model: application screens are implemented as HTML pages and interactive elements are created using Flash.

In both cases, it is proposed to move to AIR based Flash implementation. This will remove many restrictions applying to a browser plugin. AIR 3 for Android supports DRM (Adobe Flash Access 3.0) and allows you to securely protect the content of highly demanding video studios. Probably the focus on AIR technology will accelerate DRM implementation on new platforms (iOS, Connected TV).

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