android_airIt probably hasn’t been a fun year at Adobe, as the company endured a very public feud with Apple over the absence of its Flash technology on the iPhone and iPad, followed by speculation about its future as an independent company. Nevertheless, Adobe has soldiered on with its strategy to get its technology onto (mostly non-Apple) devices, and now it says those efforts are paying off.

As it prepares for the Mobile World Congress coming up in Barcelona this week, the company has shared several data points showing the adoption of Flash (which is used to play a lot of the video and games available through your Web browser) and AIR (which developers can use to create downloadable apps that run across multiple devices). For example, Adobe says that more than 84 million smartphones supported AIR at the end of last year — which is particularly impressive when you consider that the company only started talking about its plans for AIR a year ago, and didn’t officially launch AIR for Android until October.

During the first two months of AIR’s official availability, developers used the tools to create more than 1,500 apps, said senior vice president David Wadhwani. He told me that Adobe doesn’t have any reliable way to track similar numbers on the iPhone. (Apple had initially suggested that it might block AIR apps from running on the iPhone, but that hasn’t happened.) Anecdotally, Wadhwani suggested that “the developer interest, as you can imagine, is a function of marketshare.”

He added that the real advantage of AIR is that a developer could build an Android app, then make it available on iPhones and other smartphones with only “marginal” effort.

Here are some of the other numbers and predictions that Adobe shared:

  • 20 million smartphones were shipped with Flash Player 10.1 in 2010.
  • Flash Player 10.1 was downloaded more than 7 million times from the Android Market.
  • Out of 150,000 user ratings on the Android Market, Flash Player is averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Adobe expects more than 132 million smartphones to have Flash Player installed in 2011.
  • More than 50 tablets will ship or be able to download Flash Player in 2011.
  • More than 200 million devices will support AIR apps by the end of 2011.

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