Google Still Loves You, Flash


google mobile_smallADOTAS – Possibly the most important lesson I learned from watching “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” (besides that Hollywood is really bankrupt in the creative department) was that the enemy of my enemy is my friend — despite the fact that Predators enjoy hunting humans, Sanaa Lathan teams up with one of the beasties to take out a hive of Aliens. Violence and gore ensue, but thankfully little dialog.

Proving my geekdom for the the millionth time, that b-movie was the first thing that came to mind when I learned that Android 2.2, expected to be unveiled at Google I/O starting, will have the latest version of Flash (10.1) integrated. This version, of course, is supposed to be optimized for mobile devices but famously is still incompatible with Apple’s toys.

Google apparently will be heavily promoting this integration because publishers and advertisers alike like their Flash. It’s also a nice distraction from Google’s setbacks with its Nexus One handset, including losing Verizon and Sprint as carriers and shuttering the Nexus One online store — $529 was too steep a price for users to choose their own carrier (well, between T-Mobile and AT&T).

Previously Android’s chief advantage over the iPhone OS (besides being a multi-device OS) was multitasking, but the iPhone OS 4 will level that playing field. However, Android 2.2 has a host of other slick features to give it a leg up on Apple — built-in USB tethering will allow users to share a data connection with a laptop while users will also be able to create a wifi hotspot with their Android phone.

Flash integration would seem to be the cherry on top — and a sweet way for both Google and Adobe to bite their thumbs at Apple.

But wait a second — in its recent ad campaign, didn’t Adobe say it loved Apple? Well, their relationship isn’t completely acrimonious — I’m still getting emails from Apple encouraging me to buy Creative Suite 5. It’s just that Jobs hates Flash, hates it so much that if it were a watermelon he’d go Gallagher on it.

Apple’s new mobile software developer license — reportedly under scrutiny from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission — sets forth a strict purity regimen and makes Adobe’s recently upgraded Flash app-creator useless for the platform. Ain’t no third-party software layer comin’ in and making these apps substandard!

Google apparently doesn’t have Apple’s snootiness (or doesn’t mind having “substandard” apps), but “open system” is the search giant’s middle name… And last name too, I guess. And what a better way to appeal to publishers and advertisers — and potentially build its user base — than enabling the tool they’re quite enamored with, not like that mean ol’ Apple.

According to AdMob’s March report, Apple still dominates smartphone use (46% of ad requests) and mobile browser share (22%), but Android is no doubt a rising star, taking home 25% of smartphone ad requests. The OS is currently used on 34 devices and 11 make up 96% of its market share; Verizon’s Droid, in particular, made up more than a third of the traffic.

Not bad considering the device first appeared in November.

Sure Apple has the most engaged users and arguably the best product, but if it’s going the walled garden route, the dominance will only last so long. There are multiplatform solutions that translate Flash creative into Apple-acceptable formats, but I can still hear advertisers grumbling — they’re getting their chain yanked by Apple, and it’s only getting pulled harder via iAd and Quattro’s ViP program.

Sure closed systems such as Apple are in the captain’s chair at the moment, but eventually open systems will reassert themselves — Google is looking like the likely leader. In fact, with every development, deja vu hits me a bit harder: we really do seem to be replaying the PC battle — with Google taking Microsoft’s place. (But what about the KIN? What about it?)

Will the integration of Flash finally make Android a true contender for the mobile throne? You tell me.

On a side note, we can stretch that “AVP” metaphor 10 ways to Sunday — if only I had the time to Photoshop Steve Jobs’ head on top of the queen Alien or toss a Google logo on the Predator’s armor…. Does Adobe represent the innocent humans caught in the middle of this battle? Well, as a hallmark of such films, there’s a tendency to root for the humans, who tend to be jerks, to be killed — preferably in grotesque fashion.

‘Cause are there really any good guys in this space?


  1. I wish advertisers and publishers loved flash less. Hours of productivity are wasted with crashes and system freezes created by poorly coded Flash and Java.

  2. The history of computing is that open systems always win out against closed ones, and Apple has suffered over these issues in the past with the Mac. At peak Mac had 30% of the desktop computing market. Keeping it a closed system has reduced that share to 3% and almost killed the company. iPhone is just another repeat of the same error.


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