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Adobe MAX: Flash for the iPhone? Not Quite

There are few things in life that almost everyone supports—the right to vote and freedom of speech, for instance.

There are a few other things, too, that are of lesser consequence, but which almost everyone would like to see, for a variety of reasons. One of those is a full version of Flash on smart phones, not the limited Flash Lite version that users have had to endure.

Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch showcased Flash Player 10.1 on a series of smart phones at today's Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles: a shipping Nokia device, a soon-to-be-realeased Android phone, a WindowsMobile 6.5 device, and the Palm Pre WebOS.

Full Flash On The Mobile
One of the features of these demonstrations was a live stream from a Macbook to the Android device, using a mobile version of Acrobat Connect Pro. Lynch also addressed the requests of memory reduction issue of smart phones. Most content on the web, including on-demand video content, taxes both the battery and RAM in a smart phone.

"We've achieved, in Flash Player 10.1, an ability to cut memory requirements in half," said Lynch, noting his demonstrations on each of the many phones was pre-release software. "We do this memory reduction automatically without requiring the user or developer to do anything other than upgrade to Flash Player 10.1."

But what about the iPhone, the device Lynch didn't show Flash Player 10.1 on?

For this, Lynch and John Loiacono, Senior VP of Adobe Creative Solutions, demonstrated a potential workaround for Flash content on the iPhone, utilizing the Flash Media Server (FMS) and Creative Suite 5 (CS5) Flash Professional, a pre-release version of the next version of Flash Professional, which itself will be released in beta before year's end.

"The engineering teams at Adobe have succeeded in bringing the latest Flash technology to the iPhone," said Kevin Lynch, Adobe's CTO, "opening the way for the Flash community to deploy to the App Store. When Apple is ready to bring the full web browsing experience to iPhone users, we'll be ready to bring Flash Player to Safari."

While Lynch meant Adobe would be willing to bring the Flash Player to the iPhone version of Safari, since Flash Player already supports the desktop version of the browser on both Macintosh and Windows desktops, his point is well taken: If Adobe can't get the Flash Player approved as an App Store app itself, it can at least get FMS-based back-end content delivered via an app-based solution.

This workaround is necessary, as Apple's iPhone SDK license terms do not allow runtime-interpreted code. Since Adobe is not able to deliver Flash Player in Safari on the iPhone without support from Apple, applications for the iPhone built with Adobe Flash Professional CS5 do not include any runtime-interpreted code. This leaves open the question of whether Flash video could be used as part of an iPhone app, a question that was not answered in today's keynote.

"We’re extremely excited about being able to leverage our Flash skills for iPhone development," said Stefan Richter, a regular contributor to StreamingMedia.com and principal at Muchosmedia, a software company.

Richter's Just Letters Game was demonstrated as an App Store version of the digital refrigerator magnets game. It had a connection problem during the demonstration, due to a Wi-Fi error in the Nokia Theater, where the keynote was presented. A follow-up demonstration showed it playing quite nicely, connected to other iPhone users.

"By publishing in ActionScript 3 using CS5 Flash Professional," said Richter," we can build rich and engaging multi-user applications and add a whole new level of interactivity to our already popular web-based game."

The Omniture Acquisition
A final point made in the keynote involved the Omniture acquisition and its potential for business intelligence and website optimization. Adobe has turned from a products-only company to a hybrid products-services company. While Photoshop.com and other web services were early examples, the Omniture acquisition is a bigger part of the overall strategy to move to services, allowing Adobe to charge premium dollars for highly-tuned business intelligence.

Omniture, started about 13 years ago, started out as a company to make web pages.

"We made really pretty web pages in 1995," said Omniture CEO Josh James, "but customers wanted to know whether they were getting more visits from the updated websites, so we launched a web analytics product. Today we have over 5,000 customers but, since then, we've graduated to online business optimization."

Omniture's optimization tools can change the front page based on who is visiting, how frequently they've visited, or key recommendations, and may hold promise in working side-by-side with Flash Player 10.1 on a smart phone.

"StubHub increased sales by 10 percent by using recommendations," said James, adding that the need for automated integration of Omniture in to Adobe delivery tools.

"Today, we have a manual integration with Adobe today," said James, "but going forward we want to automate the process of integrating with Adobe products."

Additional information about the end of the keynote, which was not webcast, can be found at Workflowed.com.

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