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Android first to host Adobe's AIR for smartphones

Takes bite out of Apple

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MWC Adobe Systems is bringing its Flash-based AIR runtime to mobile devices, with Google's Android the first potential host.

Adobe will show a preview running on Motorola's Droid and Milestone phones at the Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Spain, with general availability promised later this year.

AIR combines Flash with components such as a local SQL database, running outside the web browser and is used by the BBC iPlayer Desktop and many Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck. So far, it's not been available on smartphones.

AIR for mobile is based on Flash Player 10.1, the first full version of the Flash player for mobile devices, which is currently in beta. Adobe said 19 of the top 20 phone OEMs are committed to delivering Flash and expects more than half of all smartphones to ship with Flash Player by the end of 2012.

The recalcitrant vendor is, of course, Apple, which unfortunately for Adobe is also the dominant platform for mobile apps, the market Adobe is targeting with AIR.

Adobe's strategy is based on the ubiquity of the Flash runtime, and the company now gripes constantly about Apple's decision in an effort to win public support.

"The Flash platform provides developers a way to connect to consumers without injecting a gatekeeper or a single party that makes decisions about what kind of content they want to consume," Flash platform spokesperson Adrian Ludwig said taking a dig at Apple's gated App Store.

Adobe even hints that Apple is to blame for stability issues that afflict Flash on the Mac - and that may lie behind its exclusion from iPhone, iPod Touch and the forthcoming iPad.

"We depend on getting accurate and detailed crash reports from the operating system vendors," senior product manager Tom Barclay said, adding that Apple's reports are sometimes "incomplete or anecdotal, and they choose what they want to report."

In truth, though, Apple's devices are not altogether excluded, since Adobe has come up with a compiler that builds native code iPhone applications from Flash projects and that will be part of the forthcoming Creative Suite 5. That is arguably a better solution for a resource-constrained mobile device than deploying to the AIR runtime, though less convenient for developers.

Adobe will also announce that it is joining the LiMo Foundation in order to support Flash on mobile Linux and name new partners for its Flash-based Open Screen Project including the Symbian Foundation, Freescale and Opera. ®

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