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Adobe and and ARM announced today that they’re working together to bring optimized versions Flash Player 10, the latest version of Adobe’s ubiquitous platform for web applications and media, as well as AIR, Adobe’s environment for hybrid web/desktop applications, to devices using ARM-designed chips. This pushes Adobe’s attempts to bring Flash onto every mobile device further forward than most partnership announcements — the fact that ARM chips power a majority of mobile devices (as well as set-top boxes, media players and more) and are known for their low power consumption should be a nice counterbalance to concerns that Flash uses too much power and other resources.

The two companies will collaborate as part of the Open Screen Project. That’s the Adobe-backed initiative to bring Flash and AIR to as many web-enabled devices as possible, and to make it possible to develop Flash and AIR apps that work across all those devices. ARM is already listed as an Open Screen partner, but this announcement offers details on a concrete collaboration, not just a nebulous partnership. It will also lead to the first prototype of Flash Player 10 on the smartphone.

The mobile market is an important target for Adobe — on web-enabled desktops, on the other hand, some versions of Flash already have 98 percent market penetration. Flash’s dominance is less-assured on mobile devices, where web-browsing capabilities are only now emerging as a mass market, where Flash has been criticized for the demands it places on device resources and where Apple is rumored to encourage development on Javascript, rather than Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight platform. (The iPhone uses an ARM chip, and Adobe says it’s working on a version of Flash for the iPhone, but it’s not clear whether Apple will support this.) Not that Flash doesn’t have a strong presence already — Adobe reports that it’s installed on more than 800 million devices.

[Update: John Gruber of Daring Fireball and others have taken issue with my use of the word “rumored”. That was sloppy writing on my part, because I was in a hurry this morning. It’s common knowledge that Apple is promoting iPhone development on JavaScript, HTML and other “open” languages, and is working with developers like SproutCore to build mobile sites on JavaScript. Heck, I even pointed that out in the article linked to above. What’s less clear is to what extent Apple’s support of these languages will also lead to active opposition to Flash and Silveright.]

This news comes at the start of Adobe’s MAX conference to promote its platform, which is taking place this week in San Francisco.


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