Shunned By Apple, Adobe Embraces Android With AIR 2.5

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Apple keeps giving Adobe the brush-off—what with the new MacBook Airs shipping without Flash and Apple’s prohibition (recently rescinded) on porting Flash apps to the iPhone. Without Apple, industry observers are asking “Where does Adobe go from here?” Apparently, right into the arms of Android.

On Monday, Adobe will be releasing AIR 2.5 at its Adobe MAX developer conference. The latest version of AIR, which up until now has been a platform for creating desktop apps, will extend the runtime to smartphones, tablets, and TVs running the Android operating system (as well as the Blackberry Tablet OS). For the most part, that means Android phones, Android tablets, and Android-powered Google TVs. Just last week, Adobe Connect Mobile became available for Android, and Adobe Reader X extended the ability to read PDFs to Android mobile phones, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry tablets. SInce becoming available earlier this year, Flash 10.1 for Android has been downloaded 2 million times, and will be pre-installed in future Android phones.

When Apple shunned Adobe last April, it literally turned to Android. Its development efforts with Android took priority and are now bearing fruit. It will still work with Apple when Apple allows it, obviously, but it is making a much bigger bet on Android.

The plan all along was to make Adobe, and AIR in particular, a one-stop development shop. Write once, and your apps can appear on any device—desktops, mobile phones, tablets, TVs. That is still the plan, but the emphasis now seems to be on non-Apple devices (more because of Apple than Adobe). Android is a big opportunity, and not just mobile. TV apps are going to be popular. The selling point behind AIR is that it will figure out how to display the same app on various devices and platforms.

Adobe is also launching InMarket, which is supposed to be a single place from which to distribute apps built with Adobe’s tools to multiple app marketplaces. Developers will get 70 percent of any revenues. At launch, however, InMarket only supports app stores from Intel and Acer. I’d expect the Android Marketplace to be added soon, but not iTunes. Now with AIR 2.5, Adobe will have a runtime for apps on desktops (Windows, Mac, and Linux), mobile (Android phones and tablets, Blackberrry tablets), and smart TVs. Meanwhile, Apple just launched an app store for Macs, which is targeted at exactly those kinds of desktop apps that are now AIR apps.

Photo credit: Flickr/ Mark Sebastian

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