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Apps Are in the AIR


The battle rages on as to who may one day be the dominant player in the mobile world. Apple has jumped out to the early lead for sure with the iPhone, its App store and the mystique that is around the company and its products. But this is not a sprint by any means. This looks to be a marathon and the competition may make this closer than anyone may have thought just a few short years ago.

How’s this going to happen? Well, while I have no crystal ball I think that the announcement set for today at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain will play a part in making this a much tighter race. TechCrunch reports

The bane of all mobile app developers is the need to rewrite the same app over and over again for different devices: the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Nokia, Windows Mobile. Adobe is positioning its Flash platform (which includes the Flash player, AIR, developer tools, and media servers) as the write-once, deploy-anywhere solution for both the mobile Web and apps. Today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, it will announce plans to bring Adobe AIR to mobile devices, starting with Android and Blackberry phones.

Apple fan boys will dismiss this as just another attempt to make the Android and BlackBerry devices seem cool but they really aren’t because, hey, they aren’t Apple. I suspect there will always be that element and there may be enough differences in the phones for that mentality to hold up with a large enough percentage of the market to be valid. What is getting more interesting is that as Android devices in particular become more “iPhone-like” (relax, I didn’t say as cool as the iPhone so relax, your cool quotient is still in tact) the one major advantage that Google holds over Apple is all the other services they provide to individuals, SMB’s and, more an more, the enterprise.

What if Google truly decides to make their offerings just plain work better on Android devices? It could get to the point where efficiency, productivity and effectiveness outweigh the cool factor of the iPhone. I am not saying this is inevitable but it sure is a possibility. Google has shown that it will roll out features for Google Maps that are only available on Android devices. If they take this even further and if Buzz becomes something other than an industry novelty Apple will have to take notice.

Flash and the iPhone have not been friends to this point and Steve Jobs is convinced that HTML5 is the next wave. He may be right but for now, Flash is making the news. Jobs is quoted in Wired from his now infamous rant against Google as saying the following about Adobe.

About Adobe: They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.

Adobe, of course, while flattered by the attention thinks differently.

Of course, the face-off with Apple continues over Flash on the iPhone, even though last December, 7 million iPhone users attempted to download the Flash player from adobe.com through their mobile browsers, up from 3 million requests in July, 2009. Apple might eventually have to cave if Flash becomes a standard feature of all other smartphones. Adobe execs cite numbers by Strategy Analytics which estimate more than half of all smartphones will support Flash by 2012.

So Internet marketers take notice. The move to mobile is coming at a fast and furious pace. Some of the activities that have been “traditional” including search engine optimization (SEO) may have a different spot in the pecking order of priorities. While it’s too early to tell for sure there is definitely something in the AIR.