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Adobe's Flash to ship on new Android phone

Adobe gains an important mobile-phone beachhead for its Flash technology: HTC's upcoming Android-powered Hero phone due to start shipping next month.

The HTC Hero phone will have Flash support built in.
The HTC Hero phone will have Flash support built in.

Marking a departure from the world of iPhone, HTC's new Android-based Hero phone will also come with the ability to handle Flash elements that adorn many Web sites and power YouTube video.

Adobe Systems announced on Wednesday that its Flash Player will be built into the HTC phone, an important step in the company's efforts to spread Flash to mobile phones. The phone, one of several from HTC to use Google's open-source operating system, is scheduled to ship in Europe starting in July and in Asia and North America later in the year.

However, the initial version won't match Flash Player 10, the current version for PCs, which can run programs written with ActionScript 3. Instead, the Android version will handle ActionScript 2 applications written for Flash Player 9 chores, Adobe said. HTC is participating in the Open Screen Project to bring Flash Player 10 to mobile phones through over-the-air updates, though, so Adobe expects fuller Flash support eventually.

"Flash Player 10 for mobile platforms that include Android is expected to be available in the first half of 2010. We are working on delivering a beta of Flash Player 10 in the fourth quarter of 2009," the company said in a statement.

The Flash support will be built into the phone and not available as a download for other Android phone users, Adobe said.

Just having a check mark in a feature list isn't enough to outflank a competitor, but Flash is a significant feature on the Web. It powers many games, streaming videos, and dynamic stock charts, and other elaborate features on Web pages. And Flash is also used for many more dynamic advertisements.

Adobe demonstrated Flash on Android in an online video Wednesday, showing off the technology for watching a trailer at Yahoo Movies, playing the Penguin Swing game, and selecting a region on travel site Expedia. Double-clicking on the Flash element on the Web page runs it full screen.

Apple's iPhone doesn't run Flash, though Adobe would like to see it there and has been developing a version.

"We are developing Flash player for the iPhone. To release software on the iPhone requires Apple's agreement. We have to make it work great, and need to get their agreement to have it released," said Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch in a 2008 interview. "We would love to see Flash on the iPhone."