Flash 10.1 mobile roadmap confusion, Windows phone support far off

When is the right moment to buy a mobile phone? Usually the answer is not quite yet; and that seems to the case if you want to be sure of support for Flash Player 10.1, the first full version of the runtime to run on mobile devices. Adobe recently struck off support for Windows Mobile in its entirety. Adobe’s Antonio Flores said on the company’s forums:

As for WinMo, we have made the tough decision to defer support for that platform until WinMo7.  This is due to the fact that WinMo6.5 does not support some of the critical APIs that we need.

“Defer support” is not straight talking. Windows Phone 7 is by all accounts very different from Windows Mobile and application compatibility is in question. In addition, the indications so far are that Windows Phone 7 primarily targets consumers in its first release, suggesting that Windows Mobile devices may continue in parallel for a while, to support business applications built for the platform. It is disappointing that Adobe has abandoned its previously announced support; and the story about critical APIs looks suspect, bearing in mind that Flash 10.1 on Windows Mobile demos have already been shown.

As for Flash on Windows Phone 7, that too looks some way off. Microsoft says it is not opposed to Flash, but that it will not feature in the first release.

There may also be politics here. Microsoft Silverlight competes with Flash, and it looks as if Silverlight is to some extent the development platform for Windows Phone 7. While Flash on Windows Phone 7 would be a selling point for the device, I doubt Microsoft likes the idea of developers choosing Adobe’s platform instead of Silverlight. Equally, I doubt it would break Adobe’s heart if Windows Phone 7 wasn’t much of a success, and if lack of Flash puts off customers, that cannot be helped.

In other words, both companies may want to make haste slowly when it comes to Flash on Windows Phone 7.

When it talks about Apple devices, Adobe is the even-handed runtime vendor doing everything it can to make its platform ubiquitous. However, the more it succeeds in its aim, the more power it has when it comes to less favoured platforms. This is a problem inherent to a platform where all the implementations come from a single vendor.

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