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Adobe rallies Flash and AIR mobile partners

End of the single Player?

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Adobe MAX Adobe is expected to showcase tools and runtimes today with ARM and Qualcomm for Flash-powered rich internet applications (RIAs) on phones and devices.

ARM plans to demonstrate a prototype of Flash Player 10 and AIR running on the ARMv6 and ARMv7 architectures, used in the ARM11 and Cortex A processors, at Adobe's MAX conference in San Francisco, California.

Work with ARM potentially opens the way to Flash and AIR running on a range of consumer devices. A complete implementation is scheduled for the second-half of 2009.

The 32-bit RISC-based ARM architecture dominates the embedded market. ARM11 is used in smart phones, PDAs and set-top-boxes, with Cortex A used by OEMs including Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Samsung, and NEC.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, will show off a software development kit (SDK) that lets you build Flash applications for its BREW Mobile Platform without needing to work in C.

The toolkit comes five-months after Qualcomm announced its BREW platform would integrate Flash. Qualcomm in May promised tools that would work with Eclipse and Visual Studio with workflow connecting to Adobe's existing Creative Suite of tools.

ARM and Qualcomm are both members of Adobe's Open Screen Project, announced in May and designed to put Flash and AIR on a broad range of handsets and embedded devices.

Such devices have different screen sizes, processors, memory, and battery limitations. The goal is make Flash and AIR consistent for users and application developers on these different architectures.

The work with ARM and Qualcomm has focused on getting the core Flash and AIR script engine to work efficiently on devices with limited memory, making the hardware - instead of the operating system as would happen on a PC - perform complicated graphics optimization, and optimizing codecs to the hardware instead of the operating system.

With a plethora of architectures out there this surely means different versions of Flash and AIR for different chip sets and devices. And that would mean an end to the single Flash development framework that's helped Adobe to achieve such ubiquity on the desktop.

Adobe director of technical marketing, mobile, and devices Anup Murarka said the alliance could "hit a lot of issues in consistency of implementation".

He said, though, there'd be variations between versions of Flash and AIR running on "high-end" and "low-end" handsets. The alliance has a "good consensus" around achieving its goal and sees profiling at different levels, he said.

That means you won't get PC-type Flash features in low-end "mass-market" phones but desktop-quality Flash will appear in high-end smart phones that have greater processing power and a browser. ®

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