Adobe To Move Flash Into Digital TVs - InformationWeek

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Adobe To Move Flash Into Digital TVs

An increasing number of digital TVs and set-top boxes are shipping with broadband connections, so the market opens up new opportunities for Adobe.

Adobe on Monday said its Flash platform for running rich Internet applications and playing online video will ship in major vendors' digital TVs and set-top boxes in the second half of the year.

Flash will be incorporated in the system-on-a-chip products from Broadcom, Intel, NXP, Sigma Designs, and Mediatek. The integration will extend Adobe's reach with Flash beyond PCs and mobile phones.

About 98% of PCs have Flash installed and almost 80% of online video is seen through Flash, according to Adobe. The number of mobile phones shipping with Flash Lite is expected to reach 1 billion this year and more than 2.5 billion by the end of next year, according to Strategy Analytics.

An increasing number of digital TVs and set-top boxes are shipping with broadband connections, so the market opens up new opportunities for Adobe. Indeed, the number of households with digital TVs in the United States and Western Europe is expected to grow an average of 12% year on year to 274 million in 2012, from 158 million in 2007, according to Datamonitor.

Adobe expects the first system on a chip with the Flash platform to ship in digital TVs in the second half of 2009. Set-top boxes are expected to follow.

However, Adobe did not name any TV manufacturers that would have Flash-supported products. Anup Murarka, director of partner development and technology strategy for the platform business unit at Adobe, told InformationWeek that products would be announced later in the year.

Companies that have announced plans to offer content for Flash-supporting TVs include Atlantic Records, Disney Interactive Media Group, Netflix, and The New York Times. Adobe and partners made the announcements at the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas.

A major competitor to Adobe in the market for supplying development platforms for the next-generation Web applications is Microsoft, which offers Flash rival Silverlight. However, Silverlight has nowhere near the reach of Flash, but has seen 350 million downloads, according to Microsoft. Key customers of the platform include NBC and Netflix.

In other news, Adobe also introduced at NAB a software framework for building Flash players that can be embedded in Web pages and applications. The technology, code-named Strobe, enables developers to build more functionality into players, such as better advertising support, user measurement and tracking, and social network integration.

The open source framework will be available at no charge in the second half of the year.

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