Adobe Flash and Connected Devices: Change for the Better

November 10, 2011
By

In the last couple of days, it feels like Adobe Flash has been infected with the Black Death. First, came the announcement that Flash would not be supported on mobile devices and in turn the press declared that Flash was dead. Yesterday, GigaOM reported that Adobe stated that the Flash browser plug-in was also dead on connected devices such as TVs and Blu-ray players.

Adobe released a statement today to in an attempt to calm the media storm. In particular, Adobe clarified that Flash was only going away as a browser plug-in for both mobile and connected devices. Adobe emphasized their commitment to Flash as a desktop browser-plug-in. In the world of mobile and connected devices, Adobe sees a future of native apps and sites built in HTML5. In particular, they emphasized how Adobe streaming video is here to stay as is their commitment to tools such as Adobe AIR to build apps.
Adobe is basically saying that regular HTML web sites with embedded Flash that people have been building for years are dead on mobile devices and in the living room. Good! From the perspective of streaming video, this type of solution has always been problematic. Exhibit A are the early versions of HBO Go and other channels that were deployed on the Google TV, Boxee and HDTVs with flash-enabled web-browsers. These were not apps in the true sense of the word, but simply Flash-based web sites on your TV. The problem is that the web-based version of HBO Go and sites like it assume there’s a keyboard and mouse for navigation. Connected devices for the living room usually don’t have a keyboard and don’t have good way to move the pointer, so usability was always awkward at best.
And what does the announcement mean for TiVo? The Premiere platform has an HD user interface that is built in Flash (albeit not complete yet). However, it’s not what Adobe is removing support for. TiVo PR provided the following comment when asked about the impact of the Adobe announcement:

“Adobe’s recent announcement is focused on Flash as a browser plug-in for mobile devices.  TiVo Premiere utilizes Adobe AIR to deliver Flash based apps to connected TVs and is not affected by the news.  After consulting with Adobe, we anticipate no change to our current plans in our use of Adobe products within TiVo products. [TiVo also then references the Adobe clarification]“

This statement gives credence to our theory that the new TiVo Netflix app will be Flash-based. So, TiVo fans don’t fret. The Adobe announcement does not mean that TiVo (or Google TV) has hit an architectural dead-end.  In fact, it sounds like Adobe is doubling down on AIR (as is TiVo).

Update: Mike Chambers, one of the product managers for Flash at Adobe, posted a detailed explanation of Adobe’s thinking behind the move.

Tags: Adobe, Boxee, flash, Google TV, HBO, streaming, TiVo

8 Responses to Adobe Flash and Connected Devices: Change for the Better

  1. Yay on November 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    yay

  2. Yay on November 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    yay

  3. G_stewart on November 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Very nice post. Thanks

  4. G_stewart on November 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Very nice post. Thanks

  5. Fanfoot on November 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Its still confusing.

    If Flash for mobile is dead, and more and more of our viewing is going to be on mobile devices, including things like tablets (iOS or Windows 8 based say, or even future Android versions now that Flash support is going away) then more and more web sites will have to be designed assuming that Flash won’t be there.  What web sites can assume they will only be viewed on Desktops and laptops in the next couple of years?

    Then there’s the whole Flash on TV thing.  I was actually hoping to see more detail in this article given how well done your posts are in general.  Sure Tivo can continue to write their own apps, since they have the source.  But I assume part of the plan was to be able to adapt existing Flash implementations of services like Hulu Plus.  Which now seems unlikely/less likely since those services won’t be writing things in Flash going forward.

    Does this affect Google TV?  Well sure it does.  Yes Flash can be packaged into an application using Air and that can be made available via the app store on Google TV 2.0.  But its probably less likely that the app will be written in Flash in the first place, and part of the reason people were using Flash was to avoid having to write apps for each platform.  And while Air works it creates apps that aren’t as good as coding for the platforms natively.  And of course it still has all of the problems that caused Flash to lose momentum in mobile–it is inefficient, which causes frame rate jitter, battery sucking performance, crashing, etc.

    And then of course the whole space seems to be in upheaval.  Not just as a result of the Adobe announcements.  There’s Intel pulling out of the space too, meaning the Boxee Box’s move to Intel from ARM is looking like a really really bad idea.

    • The Hub on November 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      The only real change in the TV area is that Adobe is no longer supporting the Flash plug-in for web browsers for TVs ad other connected devices. The change is irrelevant to TiVo since they don’t have a browser on their platform. For Google, it’s good since it will start to get those browser-based Flash apps off the platform.

      I agree that if a CE vendor or app developer was building something new, they would have second thoughts about using flash.

      However, the one thing that’s not going away anytime soon is Flash video given there is nothing ubiquitous to replace it (yet). 

  6. Fanfoot on November 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Its still confusing.

    If Flash for mobile is dead, and more and more of our viewing is going to be on mobile devices, including things like tablets (iOS or Windows 8 based say, or even future Android versions now that Flash support is going away) then more and more web sites will have to be designed assuming that Flash won't be there.  What web sites can assume they will only be viewed on Desktops and laptops in the next couple of years?

    Then there's the whole Flash on TV thing.  I was actually hoping to see more detail in this article given how well done your posts are in general.  Sure Tivo can continue to write their own apps, since they have the source.  But I assume part of the plan was to be able to adapt existing Flash implementations of services like Hulu Plus.  Which now seems unlikely/less likely since those services won't be writing things in Flash going forward.

    Does this affect Google TV?  Well sure it does.  Yes Flash can be packaged into an application using Air and that can be made available via the app store on Google TV 2.0.  But its probably less likely that the app will be written in Flash in the first place, and part of the reason people were using Flash was to avoid having to write apps for each platform.  And while Air works it creates apps that aren't as good as coding for the platforms natively.  And of course it still has all of the problems that caused Flash to lose momentum in mobile–it is inefficient, which causes frame rate jitter, battery sucking performance, crashing, etc.

    And then of course the whole space seems to be in upheaval.  Not just as a result of the Adobe announcements.  There's Intel pulling out of the space too, meaning the Boxee Box's move to Intel from ARM is looking like a really really bad idea.

  7. The Hub on November 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    The only real change in the TV area is that Adobe is no longer supporting the Flash plug-in for web browsers for TVs ad other connected devices. The change is irrelevant to TiVo since they don't have a browser on their platform. For Google, it's good since it will start to get those browser-based Flash apps off the platform.

    I agree that if a CE vendor or app developer was building something new, they would have second thoughts about using flash.

    However, the one thing that's not going away anytime soon is Flash video given there is nothing ubiquitous to replace it (yet). 

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