Flash and AIR for Windows Phone 7 by mid 2011?

I’m at an Adobe partner conference in Amsterdam – not for the partner sessions, but to be one of the judges for tomorrow’s application showcase. However, I’ve been chatting to Michael Chaize, a Flash Platform evangelist based in Paris, and picked up a few updates on the progress of Flash and AIR on mobile devices. AIR is a runtime which uses the Flash player for applications that are not hosted in the browser.

It’s well known that AIR for Android is ready to preview, though it is not quite public yet. Which platforms will come next? According to Chaize, AIR for Palm webOS is well advanced, though a little disrupted by the coming HP takeover, and Blackberry is also progressing fast. He added that Windows Phone 7 will not be long delayed, which intrigued me since that platform itself is not yet done. Although Microsoft and Adobe have said that Flash will not be in the initial release, Chaize says that it will come “within months” afterwards, where “months” implies less than a year – maybe six months or so.

We also talked about the constraints of a mobile platform and how that affects development. Currently developers will need to use the standard Flex components, but Chaize said that a forthcoming Flash Mobile Framework will be optimized for devices. Of course, the more you tailor your app for mobile, the less code you can share with your desktop version.

The Apple question also came up, as you would expect. Chaize pointed out that Adobe’s enterprise customers may still use the abandoned Flash Packager, which compiles Flash code to a native iPhone app, since internal apps do not need App Store approval. That said, I suspect that even internal developers have to agree the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, with its notorious clause 3.3.1 that forbids use of an “intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool”. Even if that is the case, I doubt that Apple would pursue the developers of private, custom applications.

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