Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Holy Android Flash Batman!

Quoted from Apple... "I've got that sinking feeling" (ok I'm joking but the following is a massive kick in the teeth for the iPhone)

Source: InternetNews.com

Google has a new ally in its battle for smartphone dominance: Adobe.

The companies today revealed that that Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) has made its Flash technology compatible with the Android smartphone operating system developed by the Google-backed Open Handset Alliance. As a result, the enhancement may give devices like T-Mobile's G1 smartphone and other Android-based phones access to a key feature that's lacking from the industry's darling, the Apple iPhone.

Andy Rubin, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) director of mobile platforms, and Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch announced the effort today at Adobe MAX, the company's developer conference. The two presented a demo of Flash 10 running on a G1, which is manufactured by HTC.

Other than a price drop on the mobile contracts to get the G1 adding the option of adding Flash to Android (including the G1) is going to get these handsets moving out the door quickly.

There is quite a bit of argument as to who is competing against who. Is Googles Android in competition with the Apple iPhone or are they in competition with the likes of Symbian and Windows Mobile (Microsoft).

To answer the question I think we need to look at why we are differentiating Apples iPhone from other smart phones. In my opinion the reason is that when the handset first was presented to the public is was not as the classic 'smart phone', such as the Blackberry and the MDA Vario, but as an everyday device for everyone that happened to have a very slick UI (user interface) and an extraordinary web browsing experience. Since the 2.0 OS update on the iPhone Apple have been working to change this and have integrated a massive list of enterprise capability such as push email and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and I believe that we should no longer be differentiating the iPhone from Windows Mobile or Symbian Devices.

Currently in these early days of Android it is in the same place that the iPhone was at initial release. It has no enterprise application but it holds the potential and as such it's difficult to make a 'smartphone' comparison with Windows Mobile and Symbian devices but easier against the iPhone as the majority of its users are everyday consumers.

Of course there will never be a case of Google holding their hands up and saying "yep we're directly competing against Apple on this one" for two reasons. The first is simply that they are attempting to change the mobile device landscape (no specific target) with a very different and open minded approach to development and the second is that Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) is on Apples board of directors.

The addition of flash is a fairly major differentiation against the iPhone as Apples current Terms of Agreement for developers expressly forbids the use of Flash type technology on the iPhone hardware.

Source: WIRED Mag

"An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise," reads clause 3.3.2 of the iPhone SDK agreement, which was recently published on WikiLeaks. "No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s)."

This can be fairly quickly changed but I don't see this happening any time soon, more likely Apple will develop a type of secure 'Flash player' to enable the use of specific websites and apps. Whether this will eventuate or whether it will be the best solution only time will tell. As for the other breeds of smartphones out there I think we will see them following suit sooner rather than later.

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