Adobe strikes deal to bring Flash, AIR to ARM devices

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Adding fuel to the idea of Flash on the iPhone, Adobe announced Monday that it had struck a deal with chipmaker ARM to bring both Flash and Adobe’s runtime environment AIR to devices that use the ARM-chips. The iPhone uses undisclosed ARM processors in its hardware.

While the iPhone is not mentioned explicitly in Adobe’s statement on the project, the Apple handset is clearly the elephant in the room. CEO Steve Jobs said last March at Apple’s shareholder meeting that Flash, as it currently stands, doesn’t play well with the iPhone, but said that Apple had a “good relationship” with Adobe. Meanwhile, Adobe hasn’t been sitting idle, saying last month that they it was working on developing its own version of Flash for the iPhone, although its release remains up in the air.

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The deal with ARM has impact beyond the iPhone—there are plenty of devices, such as televisions, personal media players, and mobile computing devices, that use processors from ARM, and this version of Flash is intended to consume less power, an important factor for mobile devices in particular.

The partnership is just one facet of an Adobe-backed venture called the Open Screen Project that intends to create a standard runtime environment for all devices, based on Flash and AIR. Hardware makers such as Broadcom, Freescale, and Nvidia have all pledged to work together on the project, which would make the ARM-compatible Flash distribution available to hardware makers on a royalty-free basis, thus presumably increasing its saturation in the market.

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