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Adobe should cut iPhone losses by targeting carriers with Flash

Adobe should cut its losses with Apple and target its flagship Flash Player at wireless carriers, according to a new report by analyst firm Ovum.

With the spat over Apple?s refusal to support the Adobe Flash technology on its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices continuing to generate debate, Ovum believes it is time for Adobe to turn the tables by courting new sponsors of its technology in the shape of carriers.

?Clearly at the moment Adobe has found itself cut out of one device ecosystem, Apple devices, and there is the potential that it could be excluded from other device environments in the future depending on which way owners of device-side platforms choose to go,? said Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, part of the Datamonitor Group, London.

?This report came about as a result of musings and discussions I was having with Adobe and some carriers regarding some of the ambitions they have moving forward, and it seemed to me that they shared a lot of common goals,? he said.

?There might be some sense in getting together and discussing how they might bring some of those goals about.?

Adobe recently ran a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal newspaper with an open letter on Apple CEO Steve Jobs? opposition to Flash in a battle reminiscent of the Apple-Microsoft and Google-Microsoft tussles (see story).

Ovum chimes in
Mr. Cripps said that Adobe and carriers are faced with similar threats and share similar goals in relation to value-added applications and content, and that carriers should therefore seek an industry-wide partnership with Adobe to use Flash as the basis of their own multiscreen device, development, delivery and distribution systems.

Ovum said both sides could work together to create a developer ecosystem around connected devices that would compete with, and even outdo its rivals in terms of developer and user experience and multiscreen reach.

Mr. Cripps said that the reality is that in the new multiscreen world, Apple and Adobe are ultimately competing for the support of the same finite pool of application and content developers.

If Adobe is to continue growing the opportunity for Flash and its ability to pull through sales of its developer tools, it needs to find new ways to leverage its existing developer goodwill, according to Ovum.

Mr. Cripps said that doing so would help maximize opportunities for success in an environment where heavily vertically-integrated offerings from vendors such as Apple are beginning to lead developer thinking through force of will and market dominance.

Clearly, if Flash is to become a preferred technology around which carriers can build their applications and content strategies?while retaining or increasing its own relevance to developers?it will not just happen by itself, according to Ovum.

There needs to be a will in both directions to drive this idea forward.

However, Mr. Cripps said that he is convinced there is merit in the idea and that it should be pursued.

?It is interesting to ponder, in light of how carriers have been reacting to developments around the iPhone and app stores and so on, whether they can deliver something that has a similar experience for developers and consumers as the App Store, but they seem to be looking at simpler Web widgets to bring those applications to market,? Mr. Cripps said.

?Carriers might do well to seek a new set of partners and collaborators for Adobe to bring about a new community of Flash supporters in areas where it?s less established such as mobile and connected devices,? he said.

?These two sides could actually support each other quite well to deliver some of the end results that they?re looking for.?

Flash is coming to more mobile phone platforms and other connected devices in the near future.

?What has been missing is Flash ads in mobile phones being incompatible with Flash ads on the desktop, and that?s changing now,? Mr. Cripps said. ?It represents an interesting applications and services platforms for developers and carriers, because it?s inherently cross-platform.

?Plus compared with the carrier view of building out its own application platform, Flash comes with a huge number of developers already using it,? he said.