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Adobe Flash Coming to Palm Pre - Still No iPhone Flash Player?

Flash on the Pre.

Adobe Systems, Inc. issued a press release during the GSMA Mobile World Congress announcing that Palm was joining the Open Screen Project, which according to the press release, is: a broad industry initiative dedicated to enabling standalone applications and full web browsing across televisions, desktops and mobile devices taking advantage of Adobe Flash Platform capabilities. Some, however, are calling this a vaporware announcement.

The purpose of the Open Screen Project will help deliver Adobe Flash Player for smartphones on the new Palm webOS platform. No mention of the iPhone was made. The release continues:

The unique capabilities of the web-centric Palm webOS, combined with Flash Player, will enable webOS device users to benefit from the huge amount of Flash based web content for a richer, more complete Internet experience.

"We're excited that our customers will benefit from the creativity and broad range of Flash content and applications created by the millions of designers and developers using Adobe's popular tools and technologies," said Pam Deziel, vice president, software product management, Palm, Inc.

"As an industry innovator Palm will be an important contributor to the Open Screen Project," said Michele Turner, vice president for Product Marketing, Flash Platform Business Unit at Adobe. "We're aiming to bring a rich, Flash technology-enabled browsing experience to Palm's impressive web browser."

Led by Adobe, the Open Screen Project includes industry leaders working together to provide a consistent runtime environment and user experience across mobile phones, desktops, and other consumer electronics devices. The initiative addresses the challenges of web browsing on a broad range of devices, and removes the barriers to publishing content and applications seamlessly across screens. For more information, visit www.openscreenproject.org.

Flash Player for smartphones is expected to be available to handset manufacturers at the end of 2009.

One of the more widely voiced complaints about the Mobile Safari browser on the iPhone and iPod Touch is that neither of these devices support Flash. If the Palm Pre browser is as good as Mobile Safari and includes Flash, the iPhone's mobile Web browsing dominance might be called into question. Hopefully Palm will force Apple's hand and we'll see something happen on the iPhone and iPod Touch. I'm skeptical about Palm's ability to pull this off since the Treo web browser was the worst web browser I've ever used on any mobile device and I haven't seen a Pre personally.

Apple continues to push developers to develop applications for it's mobile devices using Javascript rather than Flash. Especially with Apple having embraced technology like that developed by SproutCore used by Apple's MobileMe service and Apple's desire to have an internet that uses more "open" technology than the closed technologies offered by Adobe Flash.

Some have argued that Apple wants to prevent Flash on it's mobile devices to protect the lucrative iTunes App Store. Flash apps could after all give the App Store some competition that is outside of Apple's control.