Adobe's Flash isn't ready for Android Honeycomb tablets

February 22, 2011: 3:03 PM ET

Initial Android Honeycomb Tablets will ship without Adobe's Flash (and that might be good!).

Xoom ad, click to enlarge

First spotted yesterday in the lower right hand corner of Verizon's (VZ) XOOM ad, Adobe's Flash will not be shipping on the first Android tablets to hit the market this week.

Adobe (ADBE) this morning acknowledged that it wouldn't be shipping Flash in some of the initial Honeycomb tablets.

Adobe will offer Flash Player 10.2 pre-installed on some tablets and as an OTA download on others within a few weeks of Android 3 (Honeycomb) devices becoming available, the first of which is expected to be the Motorola (MMI) Xoom.

Motorola also confirmed the missing Flash component:

"Motorola XOOM will include full support for Adobe® Flash® Player® for accessing the rich video and animations of the web, to be available after launch."

What's the hold up?  We're not sure here but Google's (GOOG) Android team are probably the ones who sent Adobe back to the drawing board.  Adobe wasn't able to articulate the delay in PR-speak but it is most likely a performance issue.  The new round of Andorid tablets have 1280x 800 HD displays which Flash videos, when viewed at full resolution, could really tax the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and by extension, the battery.

If Motorola is to meet the 10+ hours of battery live they've listed in their specs, a battery-hogging Flash player isn't going to help. By leaving Flash out, the early reviewers are going to get results like Apple's iPad (or better - the XOOM has a bigger battery).

However, the lack of Flash might improve the initial performance of Android tablets and at the same time still give most users access to Flash "soon!" A common criticism of Flash by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his disciples is that Flash is slow, power hungry, unreliable and a security threat.

Adobe has made numerous improvements over the year in Flash's performance (try it on a Motorola Atrix, which uses the same Tegra 2 processor as the Honeycomb Tablets - it blazes!).  It has also come a long way from the original 10.1 Beta version that shipped with the Froyo update on the Nexus Ones.

Adobe also announced some pretty impresive number in the post today:

We are excited about the progress we've made optimizing Flash for tablets, alongside partners including Motorola, and expect our momentum to continue. As we announced last week, over 20 million smartphones were shipped or upgraded with Flash Player in 2010 and over 150,000 consumers on the Android Market are rating it 4.5 out of 5 stars. We have raised our estimates for 2011 and expect to see Flash installed on over 132 million devices by the end of this year. Consumers are clearly asking for Flash support on tablet devices and the good news is that they won't have to wait long. We are aware of over 50 tablets that will ship in 2011 supporting a full web experience (including Flash support) and Xoom users will be among the first to enjoy this benefit.

So Adobe may require additional time to optimize Flash for Android 3.0 on the Tegra 2.  Hands on reviewers were impressed by the speed at which full screen Flash played on the handhelds.  Perhaps we'll see even better performance when the final version of Flash is ready for Honeycomb.

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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