Adobe preps full Flash player for smartphones

Apple iPhone, RIM BlackBerry remain holdouts

Adobe said on Monday that it will release its first full-fledged Flash multimedia player for smartphones by year's end.

Google, Microsoft, Palm and Nokia are all expected to release platforms or phones next year that will be able to display the same videos and applications as the most recent Flash 10 player for desktop computers, says Adobe.

Adobe will demonstrate the Flash Player 10 for smartphones beta at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

But Adobe said that it was still not close to delivering Flash players that would work with Apple's iPhone or Research in Motion's BlackBerry.

And analysts are divided on whether that will ever happen.

Adobe has been working on a Flash player tailored for the iPhone for almost a year, after Apple CEO Steve Jobs complained about Flash's performance on the iPhone.

"We've made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot of engineering work to be done," said Anup Murarka, director of partner development and technology strategy for Adobe's platform business unit.

Adobe has optimized Flash's performance on the ARM v6 CPU used by the iPhone, and the Arm v7 to be used by the upcoming Palm Pre.

"We're working with Apple on what we have," Murarka said. "We're committed to make the Flash plug-in work on the iPhone."

Adobe is at an even earlier stage with RIM.

"We've had some initial conversations and are evaluating different approaches to be taken," Murarka said. "There is a lot of interest from BlackBerry enterprise customers to be able to build Flash apps. But there is no working solution yet."

Stewart Robinson, an analyst with Strategy Analytics in the U.K., is optimistic that with Adobe "working frantically behind the scenes to get Flash onto the iPhone ... it will happen, but not until much later this year."

But Jack Gold, an independent analyst with J. Gold Associates, is less optimistic, for two reasons.

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Eric Lai

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