Adobe's Flash Player 10.1 makes its way today onto Motorola Droid X phones (Verizon Wireless), in tandem with the rollout of Android 2.2 we've been expecting for this device. Flash Player 10.1 is bundled with the Android 2.2 update and makes it possible, when enabled, to visit Flash-compatible Web sites from the browser of any Android phone running OS 2.2 (Froyo).
We took some time to play with Flash Player 10.1 on a Droid X demo unit, and found performance to be hit and miss. Video playback, Flash graphics and menus, and Flash games ranged from faithfully rendered to choppy to static. CNET TV, for instance, played audio perfectly, but video playback wasn't always up to speed. Still, it was watchable on the whole, and it beats having that content blocked.
Before launching an attack on Adobe, keep in mind that touch-and-go performance of the Flash Player isn't entirely on Adobe's shoulders. Just as mobile-optimized Web sites are significantly easier on the eye, the Flash Player will have better luck with Web sites made with mobile Flash in mind.
"We don't expect Flash content to work exactly the same way on the mobile phone as they would for the desktop," an Adobe spokesperson told CNET during an interview. Even higher-end phones lack many of the hardware capabilities necessary to silkily handle HD streaming TV or games that perform at peak on a PC that's been outfitted with an able graphics chip.
That said, it's certainly in Adobe's best interests to smooth out the process and bring more players on board. Adobe has already gotten a start with its m.flash.com site, which aggregates sites like Kongregate (Flash games), The Sims 3, Sky Sports, and BBC News that play nicer with the Flash app than other unoptimized sites might.
Adobe has spent months struggling to make a case for Flash on mobile phones. Battles with Apple over the viability of Flash, debates about which Web technologies could replace Flash-based sites, and mixed reviews about Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for Android have made it a rocky year for the Silicon Valley company.
Adobe certainly seems to be feeling the sting. Its stance over the mobile Flash Player's performance wove between defensive and optimistic during our interview. The player isn't "pristine and perfect," their spokesperson admitted to CNET during an interview. "We have more improvements to do." Adobe was also quick to point out that despite some criticism, customer ratings in the Android Market are still fairly high.
Expect Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to be bundled with the over-the-air 2.2 Froyo update. If you don't see it, though, go into the Android Market and search for Adobe Flash Player 10.1. For a closer look, check out our video below of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta on a Nexus One smartphone.