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Adobe Flash Player 10 is harbinger of mainstream mobile rich media

By Eswar Priyadarshan

Adobe announced the launch of Flash Player 10.1 on Oct. 5 with a simple yet powerful value proposition: the full power of rich Web content and video across computers, netbooks and mobile phones, except directly on the iPhone.

Simultaneous with the Flash 10 announcement, a bunch of heavy-hitting mobile platform companies such as Research In Motion (RIM), Google and Qualcomm announced that they were joining forces with the Adobe-sponsored Open Screen Project to help drive the adoption of Flash across mobile devices.

Significant abstainers from the Open Screen Project are Microsoft, which has a significant Flash competitor called Silverlight, but whose Windows Mobile platform does support Flash 10, and Apple, which has yet to budge from its position that Flash is ?too slow? to run on an iPhone.

Apple doesn?t bite
The Flash Player 10 announcement is significant news for the mobile industry and for mobile advertising, in particular, since Flash is the de facto standard rich media and video delivery format.

Therefore, the Adobe Flash Player 10?s wide availability on mobile platforms is a key step in making mobile mainstream for both publishers and advertisers.

Adobe also announced a tool that would automatically convert Flash applications to native iPhone applications.

An Apple endorsement of Flash for Mobile would assure Flash?s existing rich media and video dominance would easily carry over to mobile.

So what prevents Apple from endorsing now and perhaps for the next few years?

Clearly Apple believes that Flash has performance and CPU/battery-hogging issues on the iPhone.

A second factor to consider at this point is that perhaps Apple considers Flash as a competitive development platform to the iPhone App development platform, especially for game applications. It is therefore unlikely that Apple will jump on board the Flash bandwagon now.

Not Flash in the pan
Meanwhile, let?s turn our gaze back to existing Internet media, platforms, publishers and advertisers.

What could we expect to see in the 12 months to 18 months following the full launch of Flash Player 10?

? Existing rich media ad platforms such as Eyeblaster, PointRoll and Eyewonder embrace mobile as a platform worthy of heavy mainstream investment.

? A majority of online video inventory will make a jump to mobile fairly quickly, and with it the pre-roll video market based on the Flash player will jump over as well. Existing video ad monetization players such as Brightcove and Broadband Enterprises will also move quickly to adopt mobile as a platform.

? The rich media and video experts above will form or extend existing partnerships with mobile experts such as Quattro Wireless, AdMob, Crisp Wireless, Millennial Media, Jumptap, Mojiva and AOL/Third Screen Media to create a best-of-both-worlds solution of mobile targeting and ad serving integrated with rich media and video creatives.

? Flash game publishers will transition quickly to mobile.

? There may be a mini-trend for companies to build an iPhone application for the iPhone and a Flash application for all other platforms since Flash will run across all others.

? Mobile ad networks will continue to leverage mobile-specific expertise and platform capabilities with mobile audience-building, ad targeting, ad serving and third-party tracking, with the added ability to leverage Flash for engaging ad units and mobile Web sites.

Flash Player 10 is not available now in final product form. It will be in beta early next year and probably exit beta in the second or third quarter.

It behooves all companies in mobile now or contemplating a 2010 mobile strategy to watch Adobe Flash Player 10?s full unveiling very carefully, since we will witness the launch of many new mobile devices on the Android, Research In Motion and Windows Mobile platforms during the same time period.

The net result will be both a leveling and a broadening of the mobile rich media playing field that will benefit all ecosystem players who are brave enough to embrace the change.

The imminent arrival of full Flash-support to mobile will ensure that advertisers get the best of both worlds in terms of leveraging the mobile platform?s expanding influence while continuing to get the most out of their existing rich Web content and video investments.

Eswar Priyadarshan is Waltham, MA-based chief technology officer of mobile ad network Quattro Wireless. Reach him at .