RIM still working on Flash for BlackBerry devices

Agam Shah
4 August, 2010
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Research In Motion executives on Tuesday said the company isn’t ignoring Flash, but continuing to work with Adobe Systems on bringing support for the multimedia platform on its mobile devices.

RIM unveiled the new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone during a press event in New York (the phone will see an Australian release in the coming months), but Flash support on the device was not announced. RIM said its latest smartphone runs on the new BlackBerry 6 OS with a WebKit browser, and supports the HTML 5 standard for video playback.

Ahead of the event, some observers speculated that RIM would announce a new smartphone that includes support for Flash. In an April interview with Fox News, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said RIM would bring Flash support to its devices in the second half of this year.

At the event on Tuesday, RIM executives declined to provide a specific date for when BlackBerry devices would include Flash support. A spokesman however said that work was under way with Adobe to optimise the multimedia platform for RIM’s devices.

The companies are trying to optimise Flash 10.1 for BlackBerry hardware so devices provide good battery life, performance and efficiency on wireless data transfers, said Tyler Lessard, vice president of global alliances and developer relations at RIM.

“What’s really important… is to get it right. Flash and Flash video have very specific hardware, CPU and memory requirements,” Lessard said.

The company wants to ensure that when it introduces Flash through its OS in smartphones, it is “done right”, Lessard said.

“We don’t want to deliver an experience that users are going to get really excited about — perhaps buy a new device just because it supports Flash — and then find it doesn’t work as they hoped it to,” he said.

The importance of Flash is hard to ignore from a web-video and software-platform perspective, and RIM continues to invest in the platform’s development, Lessard said.

“We see a growing trend of not only web content, but also stand-alone applications, not just for consumers but also enterprises, being built in Flash, Adobe AIR and other Adobe technologies,” Lessard said.

RIM and Adobe originally announced that they were working together to bring Flash to BlackBerry devices in October last year.

With BlackBerry 6 OS, RIM joins companies like Apple and Google that back the HTML5 standard to distribute video and multimedia content. While Google’s Android OS supports Flash, Adobe has engaged in a public spat with Apple, which does not support playback of Flash content on its iPhone and iPad devices. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has publicly derided Flash for being buggy, slow and power-hungry.

One Comment

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  1. Gord says:

    RIM might be wise to evaluate their longer term direction and positioning with their OS. Given a lot of the reviews I am reading of their new “catch-up” efforts, they might be better off to go with an open Android platform and position themselves at the high end of the Android mobile market as an open “business app” phone.

    One thing this shows is that RIM is at least trying to keep their phones more broadly accessible to Internet content, rather than just focusing on making money by selling its own apps (like the Apple/Jobs brand).

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