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6/10/2010
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Adobe: Flash On 250 Million Smartphones By 2012

In spite of Apple's disapproval, Adobe says its latest Flash Player is gaining traction with mobile handset makers.

Adobe Systems Inc. said it expects its Flash Player software will be on more than 250 million smartphones by the end of 2012 -- despite Apple Inc.'s decision to ban developers from using the popular multimedia software on its iPhone.

Adobe has long provided a scaled-down version of its Flash software for cellphones that gives consumers the ability to surf the Web and watch videos and rich media. Flash player features include built-in support for 3D, sound, color correction, drawing APIs and streaming video.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has criticized Flash, calling it unreliable and not suited for mobile devices such as their iPhone, iPod, and iPad, and has questioned its security, reliability, performance and power-management.

But Jobs said the main reason he doesn't want Flash on their devices is that Adobe wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on their mobile devices. "We know from painful experience that letting a third-party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform," he explained in a statement defending the decision.

But in spite of Apple's disapproval, Adobe said its newest Flash version is gaining traction with smartphone makers.

"Apple, while an important player in this space, only makes up a fraction of smartphones globally,'' said Andy Castonguay, director of mobile devices research, Yankee Group. Adobe's announcement, he added, "is certainly plausible, given the volume of devices we expect will be sold over the next couple of years."

The top fringe of smartphone makers are quickly adding processor speeds and other components that will facilitate use of high definition files and Flash files, he added, so there shouldn't be much resistance to using Flash.

Adobe's newest Flash Player 10.1 will soon be available on Google's Android 2.2 "Froyo" operating system for smartphones and other devices, as well as Research In Motion Blackberry phones, Nokia Symbian phones and Palm WebOS-based phones.

The Flash platform is a strong contributor to Adobe's revenues, the company said, and is monetized through the tools it sells. The Flash player is part of Adobe's platform business unit, which generated $46.6 million in the first quarter ended in late February, or about 6 percent of Adobe's total revenue in the first quarter.

Adobe was the leader in the web design and development market, which had sales of $850 million in 2009, according to IDC.

By predicting its Flash Player would be in over 250 million smartphones by the end of 2012, Adobe said it expects its Flash software to be supported in 53 percent of all smartphones expected to ship in 2012. This year, industry analysts are predicting more than 200 million smartphones will be sold, of which almost 10 percent will carry Flash. Yankee Group is forecasting 369 million smartphones will be shipped globally in 2012, a significant increase over projected shipments of 297 million worldwide next year, Castonguay said.

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