Adobe’s Flash software will be built in to many of the microchips used inside television and digital boxes, enabling developers, broadcasters and content providers to make applications and software that deliver a rich web-browsing experience. It will allow people to check their emails, the weather and live travel updates through their TV set. Adobe says it expects the first generation of Flash-enabled devices to hit the market next year.
Several manufacturers, including Sony and Samsung, already make internet-enabled televisions capable of running small programs, known as “widgets” that give access to a variety of popular services. Television makers are keen to ensure that TVs are not usurped by computers as the centre of the digital home, and piping the internet and web-based TV services, such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube, directly in to the living room, is seen as crucial to this.
Adobe says it hopes the next-generation Flash-enabled devices will bring high-definition video streaming, interactive news tickers and quizzes to television viewers. It has signed content deals with movie rental service Netflix, Disney and the New York Times to create the first applications for the platform.
For this programme, the company has tied-up with Broadcom, Sigma Designs and MediaTek-all of whom are in the business of making system-on chips for set top boxes. The program will be incorporated on the chips made by these companies. This will throw open a hitherto untouched market for Adobe Flash, which has traditionally been restricted to PCs and of late, mobile phones. In fact, almost 98 percent of PCs have flash installed. As for mobile phones, the shipments of devices enabled with FlashLite support is expected to cross the 1 billion mark in 2009, according to data compiled by Strategy Analytics. The report adds that by 2010, it is expected to more than double and reach a staggering 2.5 billion! The digital TV market too is growing and is expected to clock a 12 percent growth year on year till 2012 – in the U.S., according to latest data.
Adobe says the first devices will be for the digital televisions and will be seen later this year. These will be followed by set top boxes with the SoC chips. Strangely, Adobe has not listed any TV manufacturers who have agreed to incorporate flash. Competition is already there for Abobe on the form of Microsoft – which has Flash rival Silverlight in its kitty. However, Silverlight does not have the market penetration of Flash which has rather become the de-facto standard for displaying rich web content.
Expect the first devices supporting the new Adobe platform by the second half of this year, in the U.S.