Category: Google

Why are we still waiting for the sub-$250 Android super phones?

Posted by – August 1, 2010

New Android super phones are arriving on the market every few weeks, promoted by all carriers and selling twice as fast as the iPhone. We are also seeing a few lower cost Android phones being sold with smaller resistive screens, using slower processors. Specialist sites like isuppli.com have analyzed the Bill Of Material of all those phones and they are saying that even the top of the line of Android super phones can be manufactured for $165 or below. My question is then still, as we are seeing more and more competition in the Android market, when are we going to be able to buy all those Android super phones at below $250, with unlocked 3G and 4G SIM card slots and no obligation to sign up for 2 years of very expensive, often over $2000 of subscriber contracts?

Before the official release of the Nexus One, I had speculated that it may be sold by Google directly to consumers below $200, as I thought that Google wouldn’t be interested in making a profit on the hardware as their strategy is to make a profit on advertising and online services. With probable pressure from manufacturers such as HTC, and from pressure by the big carriers, Google has not been allowed to yet introduce such a disruptive business model to the Android super phone market, at least not yet. It’s the same thing Andy Rubin told me off camera at Mobile World Congress, that Google wasn’t the one deciding what should be the pricing of the Nexus One.

It’s not only consumers in Europe and the USA who I think would be glad to get cheaper unlocked Android super phones, I believe there is a gigantic market available right there to the Android super phone manufacturers if they would aim to provide sub-$250 unlocked Android super phones to the people of developing countries. Each year, over 1 billion phones are bought by consumers worldwide, in fact, mostly in developing countries right now. Those handsets are mostly low cost Nokia phones and the likes. Super phones may be reaching only 100 million units sold each year so far. But that could easily double or triple from one year to the next, as soon as manufacturers decide to sell them at more reasonable cost to the consumers who want unlocked or who only care for pre-paid mobile plans. Most of the world’s nearly 5 billion mobile phone users are using pre-paid plans.

Shanzai.com recently published an editorial analyzing the upcoming wave of sub-$100 Android phones that could be coming based on the new low cost ST Ericsson 416MHz T6719 platform that I filmed in the Acer beTouch E120 and Acer beTouch E130 at Computex. Marvell may also be preparing a lower cost Android super phone platform as demonstrated in the O Phones line of Android super phones that is sold only in China for now. Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Freescale and others surely have some low cost Android super phone platform plans that they must be preparing.

The issue is the conflict of interest that there might be between Android super phone’s current customers, which are the major European and American carriers, and the interest of consumers worldwide to see lower cost Android super phones with less constraints, less obligations and less contracts. Many consumers in Europe and the USA are paying the equivalent of 3 or 4 months rent every year just for their mobile phone contracts, which is insanely expensive when you think about it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one could get a $250 unlocked Android super phone, with all the latest capacitive screens and fastest available ARM processors, also with 2 SIM card slots, one for eventual pre-paid or subscription based voice/sms SIM card, and the other for an eventual data-centric 3G or 4G service. On top of which it would still have all the WiFi and Bluetooth features, as well as video-chat that works on any network, and fully unlimited and unlocked features of tethering, Mifi function and HD video streaming, also coming on any networks. All that with HDMI output if needed and HD camcorders right there inside. Then also, sub-$125, there would be smaller resistive screens and lower performance ARM and single SIM normal devices but also unlocked and usable for pre-paid plans. Shanzai.com and Visionmobile.com speculate that advanced features can be included on the cheaper Android hardware using Mobile Virtualization.

Virtualization is new to mobile, but established in the data center, fundamental in cloud computing and increasingly popular on the desktop.

Mobile Virtualization lets handset OEMs, operators/carriers and end-users get more out of mobile hardware. It decouples mobile OSes and applications from the hardware they run on, enabling secure applications and services on less expensive devices today and deployment on advanced hardware tomorrow.

Without much of the cheap Android phones yet on the market, already Android is selling twice as fast as the iPhone. Imagine how much faster they will sell once the cheaper Android super phone prices start to be released. Perhaps a bit more competition in this market is needed to trigger this, perhaps manufacturers and carriers will be careful not to cannibalize their huge profit margins in Europe and USA while some of them will launch hundreds of millions of cheaper Android handset options in the developing countries.

I filmed the Augen $99 smartbook 6 months ago

Posted by – August 1, 2010

Engadget and a bunch of other blogs have been reporting these last few days about the cool Augen branded Android Smartbook and Tablets that are being released in the US market at affordable $99 and $149 prices by Super Market chain KMart. I just would like to remind my readers that I posted my video review of the Augen Smartbook 6 months ago on January 29th as it’s based on the Hivision PWS700CA and its cool RockChip ARM9 processor that runs Android in this video: http://armdevices.net/2010/01/29/android-laptop-review-hivision-pws700ca/

and that the Telechips ARM11 800mhz based Augen $149 7″ Tablet that Engadget and plenty other blogs also are talking about seems to be based on the same 7″ resistive tablet hardware design that I filmed 5 months ago presented by MAG Digital at CeBIT 2010 in this video: http://armdevices.net/2010/03/02/mag-digital-presents-windows-ce-that-looks-like-android-in-a-tablet/

To let you know my opinion. I think it is fantastic that Augen and KMart are promoting such cheaper Android Laptop and Tablet form factors as alternatives to the much more expensive Apple iPad and Intel Netbooks. Archos has also been selling the similarly priced Archos 7 Home Tablet on the worldwide market which I video reviewed 5 months ago, which is now broadly available in many retail and online stores below $200 for the 8GB version (and the 2GB version originally planned at $149, then $179 but for now they are mostly selling the 8GB version). That Rockchip based Laptop and Tablet platform also being upgraded to 1ghz still ARM9 to support newer Android 2.2 versions.

But as we have heard from Canonical developers and from hearsay and off camera chatter by Google people at the Google Q&A at Computex about Chrome OS on ARM Laptops, although the second generation 45nm ARM Cortex A8 with faster DDR RAM and faster I/O performance can be enough, the coming of ARM Cortex A9 platforms may be preferable to achieve the full desktop web browsing experience that most consumers may require for them to consider the ARM platforms as fully usable alternatives in the Intel/Microsoft dominated Laptop market. And the iPad and the whole bunch of smart phones that are currently spread all over the market, those may kind of set expectations at capacitive and ARM Cortex A8 performance at the minimum. So it will be interesting, capacitive touch screen manufacturers allowing, to see how soon and how cheap those capacitive Android tablet designs at full user interface speeds can reach the market. ARM9 and ARM11 resistive tablets are not bad for a start, they can give the consumers and bloggers a taste of what can be done with Android at retail prices below $200 and even below $100. The ultimate goal should be though that we should have full speed ARM Cortex versions of all these devices in all the stores, with the best capacitive screens for tablets or non-touch screens for Laptops, preferably Pixel Qi screens, and available below $200 without contracts, running free Linux based Android or Ubuntu OSes.

New Kindle just $139, first on i.MX508? Google Editions integration?

Posted by – July 29, 2010

The new WiFi-only version of Kindle is $139, it uses the latest generation of E-Ink screens, with faster refresh, better contrast. It might be the worlds first e-reader to use the latest Freescale i.MX508 processor, which means the e-ink controller is integrated in the ARM processor SoC, which allows for 21% smaller design, 15% lower weight and significantly lower cost, while improving the processing speed at up to Cortex level to achieve faster refresh rates and optimizing more things such as doubling of battery runtime, faster e-book downloading times, usable web browsing speeds and more.

Sub-$140 connected e-ink e-readers are a big deal. Amazon is already selling more e-books to the Kindle e-readers than they are selling paper books. And consider that Amazon is the worlds largest online retailer of paper books. This e-book revolution has happened in less than 2 years since the release of the Kindle. Since Amazon’s strategy is to make revenues and profits from sales of the content on their closed Kindle platform, it should be even possible for Amazon to further lower the price as needed, thus $99 Kindle shouldn’t be far away. What happens, is that from about 5 million e-ink e-readers sold in 2009, there might be 15 million of those e-ink e-readers sold pretty soon.

Google is coming with the Google Editions E-book system later this summer, meaning next month or so. My big question is this, will Amazon allow Google’s e-book system onto all Kindles through a firmware update? The way for Amazon to allow this to happen would be for Google Book Store to be only complementary to Amazon’s current Book store. Basically, any titles that Amazon has in its store would be purchased through its own store, while google would only provide access to all contents that are not yet in the Kindle store. On those out of print or otherwise unavailable in Kindle Store contents, Amazon would be making a decent share of the revenue through a partnership agreement with Google. The point being that it could be great for Kindle and Google to have a partnership and a new firmware integration. If Amazon does not open its platform to Google, I expect we will see several new e-ink e-readers sold $99 or below from many manufacturers that will be using a special version of Android that Google must be working on to release with Google Editions. As Google will provide revenue sharing for the manufacturers of devices that access Google Editions and other online sources of monetizable contents, expect some type of AdSense for e-readers.

Source for this video: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com
Found through: http://techmeme.com

Can the Android bloatware user interfaces be turned off?

Posted by – July 24, 2010

I am an Android fanboy. But I don’t like the different custom Android user interface designs such as Motorola Blur, HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, Sony Ericsson’s nor Acer’s custom user interfaces, I think they are confusing and they are like visual bloatware. Please investigate following:

1. Is there a home replacement in the Google Marketplace that returns the full UI in Android to the default Android UI in all of the different Android phones? If not, then why isn’t Google officially releasing this default Android UI in the Google Marketplace? Does anyone have any contacts at Google to whome they could ask about this?

2. Will that Default Android UI Home Replacement provide a way to have exactly the same UI as on the Nexus One? And without voiding any of the warranties? And without consuming any extra RAM memory or slowing anything down in any way?

It’s very simple, but we need simple and definite answer on this. And we need answers from Google officially. Thanks.

I do understand that the reason for each of these different layers of designs on top of Android is that each of the phone makers feel that they have to differentiate their Android offerings from the competition. That consumers have to think that they are buying a HTC phone and that only HTC phones can do that or look like that. And so on.

But I would rather that the Android ecosystem immitate the Windows world, let all the default desktop user interfaces look the same. Stop confusing the consumers. Let them recognize the true value of the whole Android ecosystem. And phone makers should preferably compete on hardware and features for the prices.

I understand this idea is disruptive to the current Android business plans of each of the companies. But please, could we at least just get a little basic Home Replacement somewhere deep in the Google Marketplace that offers anyone with any Android phone to set it back to the Nexus One styled basic Android UI design?

I’ve been told in certain comments that Launcher Pro and some other Home Replacements were good. But I am looking for a Home Replacement that offers exactly the same UI designs as on the Nexus One. Please let me know in the comments if you know of a near or fully Nexus One UI Home Replacement that is available for any of Samsung Galaxy S, Droid X, HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson X10 or any of the other Android phones, what your experience is with it and on which of the phones.

Having to void warranties on those $500 devices just to get a normal UI is a terrible thing.

Read more at droiddog.com: Hey manufacturers, leave Android alone!

The secrets behind Microsoft’s new ARM License

Posted by – July 23, 2010

The biggest threat to Microsoft’s $62 Billion in yearly revenues and $24 Billion in yearly profits is the possibility that consumers and the enterprise start adopting sub-$200 Linux based ARM Cortex A9 laptops and desktops as the new standard for personal computing in the months to come. There is a high probability that Chrome OS and Ubuntu will turn out to work very smoothly on ARM Cortex A9 processors, so smoothly that most consumers might be satisfied with the experience of web browsing speed and for running basic applications like text editors but even basic video- and photo-editing once those are available on the cloud and powered by advanced HTML5 native code and caching mechanisms.

Microsoft clearly must be seeing this as the biggest threat to their core business and thus is probably preparing a version of Windows 7 for ARM. It won’t run all the .exe files that run on Intel/AMD/VIA x86 processors. But there may be tools for developers to recompile the most important applications and to make new drivers. The challenge is for Microsoft to present such a lightweight version of Windows for ARM in a way that consumers will still pay for the Microsoft Windows OS experience even as prices of those ARM Powered laptops arrive at under $200. The profit margins will be low for Microsoft and this will require for them to implement totally different and bold business models if they want to try to keep the same numbers in yearly revenues and profits to not have their share holders sell their stocks. It would probably be based on Windows CE 7, but since that one looks much like Windows CE 6, it would be all about how they could upgrade the user interfaces to make it look and perform as much like Windows 7 as they can.

Some other possibilities as to what Microsoft may be doing with this ARM Licence:

– To release a new lower cost ARM Cortex A9 powered XboX to compete with the upcoming Google TV platform. 10 years ago, Microsoft launched MSN TV and for years there has been Windows Home Center Edition but it never really was a success like Google TV has the potential to be. Features need to be implemented in a cheap ARM Powered hardware such as HD quality video-on-demand streaming, casual and advanced 3D gaming, lean back web experiences.

– To release a Tablet centric OS to compete with Android and iOS, it would be related to Windows Phone 7 Series and with some features of the ARM version of Windows 7.

– Microsoft may want to design and control their own version of an ARM processor and keep it for their products. Like Apple keeps A4 for their products.

What do you think Microsoft is going to do with this ARM License?

via: techmeme.com
source: arm.com

Boxee on ARM Powered Box coming soon

Posted by – July 17, 2010

This is not Google TV on ARM yet, but this is a major achievement already, Boxee can run the full Boxee software experience on an ARM Powered box. Boxee is considered to be one of the best user interfaces for media streamers and Web TV. I wonder how much would need to change in D-Link’s Nvidia Tegra 2 Powered Boxee Box for them to be able to release a Google TV version of Boxee Box, and have the Boxee video navigation UI functionalities be an app on top of Google TV OS. My guess is the full Google TV experience requires HDMI input and output and an IR blaster (to integrate with existing cable/satellite boxes), thus would require a slightly upgraded version of this hardware.

For users who don’t require the feature of old TV integration with cable/satellite set-top-boxes but who only want the future experience of VOD, media streaming and web TV stuff, it would be cool to know how likely or unlikely it might be to be able to load Google TV OS for ARM once it is open sourced by Google on this Box and have Boxee’s complete set of features and user interfaces as a 3D accelerated app on top of Android. In my video interview with Boxee from CES, the Boxee representatives say that Boxee Box is designed to be open source and hackable:

There is an SD card slot on the side. We know that a lot of developers and hackers really like to side load the OS and have their own apps, so we are trying to make it as developer friendly as possible.

Youtube 4K, for realz?!!!!!

Posted by – July 9, 2010

Google announced this new resolution support on Youtube a bit weirdly: 4K is 4096×3072 thus 3072p. It is not “4096p” and not “1096 x 3072 pixels”. Or is 4K supposed to amount to 4 Million pixels? Here’s the text from Youtube’s announcement (as posted at this moment to http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2010/07/whats-bigger-than-1080p-4k-video-comes.html):

Today at the VidCon 2010 conference, we announced support for videos shot in 4K (a reference resolution of 4096 x 3072), meaning that now we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4096p.

We always want videos on YouTube to be available in the highest quality possible, as creators intend. In December of last year, we announced support for 1080p, or full HD. At 1096 x 3072 pixels, 4K is nearly four times the size of 1080p. To view any video in a source resolution greater than 1080p, select “Original” in the video quality pulldown menu:

Here’s my reaction:

– WHOAAAWWW! Is this 1st of April or something? Is Google talking for real?

– What is the bitrate going to be for 4K? My guess, based on calculating the bitrate per pixel of 2mbit/s for Youtube 720p and 4mbit/s for Youtube 1080p is that for 4K it would be something like 24mbit/s. That’s within the same bitrate as our 15 year old DV format (like miniDV tapes). That’s like the top bitrate established for 1080p AVCHD format. This is totally manageable! We can get 50mbit/s and 100mbit/s “easilly” over here in Scandinavia. If Google would provide full bandwidth delivery of Youtube 4K worldwide, we could seriously enjoy this!

– I wish the LCD and Projector industry focus on making Quad HD or 4K screens (however they should be called) instead of that 3D fad thing. Logically, thanks to Youtube 4K, we could be getting 4K HDTVs and projectors for less than $1000 by this time next year. Because the processors are already ready, they just need to be put into mass manufactured screens and projectors.

Another point in Youtube’s announcement that I would like to learn something about and maybe start to counter:

To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

I have seen Quad HD LCD screens at trade shows. Those were in the 50-82″ range I think. They are absolutely amazing (Sergey Brin has one), some of the most impressive demonstrations I have ever seen in going to most of the trade shows since 2005. See my video of the Samsung 3840x2160p 82″ LCD HDTV. See my video of the JVC 4K2K HDTV and Projector.

I believe that one can see higher than 1080p on HDTV starting below 50″ sizes. The iPhone 4 has a 326DPI 3.5″ screen. I don’t see why we can’t get higher DPI on our HDTVs than 52DPI on a 42″ HDTV? Why should the iPhone 4 have a 6x higher DPI than my 42″ 1080p Full HD HDTV? If they were to put 4K processor in my 42″ HDTV, it would still “only” have a 111DPI, still much less than what they have done on the iPhone 4. Sure my 42″ HDTV has 132 times larger surface area than an iPhone (a 42″ HDTV could fit 132 of iPhone’s screens), if you want to set a standard for what the DPI per field of vision should be based on the iPhone 4 held at half arms length (50cm) with 326DPI screen, then a 42″ HDTV with 4K screen of 111DPI would need to be seen within 1.5 meters of a distance to get the same effect. Usually a sofa is placed 4-6 meters away from the LCD HDTV. Perhaps people will want to sit closer to the screen to experience something closer to 4K quality. At the photo exhibitions and museums of paintings, it is common for people to approach the images at distances closer than 1 meter to appreciate the details in the image. Perhaps 4K would be more suitable sizes above 50″ and preferably perhaps even above 60″ in diagonal. 67″ 4K HDTV would have a 70DPI thus achieve same pixels per angle of view at 2.5 meters distance. 65″ 1080p HDTV is $2500 today at Best Buy, how much more would it cost to include the latest 4K processor in there to stream 4K contents from Youtube 4K? Perhaps 4K HDTVs in the living room can be displaying any of our existing 12megapixel images taken with any recent digital photo camera, slideshows on a 4K screen look awesome. Thus Picasa could be streaming out some amazing customized and personalized slideshows, to be marvelled at in the living room at closer distance than usual.

Another point in Youtube’s announcement that I would like to discuss:

Because 4K represents the highest quality of video available, there are a few limitations that you should be aware of. First off, video cameras that shoot in 4K aren’t cheap, and projectors that show videos in 4K are typically the size of a small refrigerator. And, as we mentioned, watching these videos on YouTube will require super-fast broadband.

Now, let’s discuss, when are cheap 4K encoders going to be available? What hardware is required in the camcorder to encode that resolution effectively (and not also use up too much bandwidth in its compression). How expensive are the 4K decoders really?

Is 4K support something that could come with the upcoming ARM Cortex A9 processors?

I would think that this could be a nice challenge for ARM processor providers to work towards. They have now reached 1080p playback for a while already, even though it only really comes with ARM Cortex A9 to small low power consumer devices. Media streamers though have done 1080p playback for a few years already. I filmed the first 1080p KiSS Technology players at CeBIT 2004:

With Moore’s law, doubling of playback processing every 18 months, 4K decoders should have been ready since the second half of 2008 already, and in Set-top-box devices that shouldn’t cost more than the KiSS Technology DP-600 shown in 2004, less than $300 today? Perhaps next year we will be able to see Google TV boxes with 4K and Youtube 4K streaming support on $2K 65″ 4K LCD HDTVs or $1K 4K projectors?

What will Google charge for Youtube HD access on ARM Powered devices?

Posted by – May 11, 2010

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Youtube HD consumes lots of bandwidth, Google wants to kind of control which devices can access that. I spoke with some Realtek based set-top-box manufacturers that told me it actually costs $1 Million in licencing to get Youtube API support on a device. Check my video: http://armdevices.net/2010/03/17/zinwell-cinematube-at-cebit-2010/

I don’t really believe it’s that expensive. It wouldn’t really make sense. But anyways, I think it’s got to do with something about Google changing the way the API works for devices to pull the Youtube videos to devices.

But that may change anyways and not be required anymore when Flash support is added in the next few weeks. That may be the solution for full Flash video support no matter about the Youtube API licencing issues.

Otherwise, I hope Google soon clarifies what they require for licencing out the Youtube HD access for devices, I wouldn’t mind if they require users to be logged in and pay a very small amount,

Something like $1 per 10GB
= 10 hours of Youtube playback at 720p 2mbit/s
= 5 hours of Youtube playback at 1080p 4mbit/s

of authenticated Youtube HD access or something like that, and that this should work on any device. This would then cover Google’s bandwidth costs for HD video streaming, and even provide the groundwork for Youtube to provide video-on-demand, video rentals, perhaps even scale up a new Live Youtube Streaming Service, also provide a one-click donation system and paying very small amounts to watch videos in HD quality without ads.

At Google I/O next week, Google is going to launch the Google TV initiative, I expect them to clarify the terms of Youtube access on devices by then.

Clearly defined specs of ARM Powered devices that may access Youtube in HD quality, and provide the full pay-per-view support with that, may provide a solid platform for one of the biggest revolutions for the TV media. People watch 3-4 hours of TV per day in average, the easy access to web video from Youtube on a sub-$100 set-top-box may revolutionize the content people will watch on their TVs. It may affect major election results. Youtube already represents perhaps as much as half of the worldwide internet bandwidth.

If Google makes this happen in the right ways, Google TV may become Google’s new largest source of revenues and profits. At the same time, I think, it may revolutionize media and democracy for the better.

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Smartbooks will succeed thanks to Flash (and Chrome?)

Posted by – May 6, 2010

ARM’s marketing vice president, Ian Drew is quoted in an article at ZDnet.co.uk as saying:

“Our target is mostly internet machines — it becomes sort of a requirement that they run the internet,” Drew said. “[The delay in optimising] Flash has stalled it”.

Drew suggested that solving the issue of Flash optimisation had involved “lots of heavy lifting” but once the new version of Adobe’s rich media software is in place for smartbooks, that would be “very powerful” for ARM.

(…)

“I actually think we’re a lot stronger because of it,” he said. “We now know what we didn’t know two years ago. It has taught us a lot about how we work with software companies.”

So we know from my Interview with ARM’s Director of Mobile Computing and from my interview with Adobe Flash’s product manager that ARM, Adobe and other partners including Google, Nvidia, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and others have invested hundreds and hundreds of engineers in working full time over the past many months to optimize and succeed in supporting the full Flash on the ARM processors of upcoming Smartbooks, Tablets, Phones and Set-top-boxes.

The Smartbooks are a big deal. Getting the full speed web browser experience working I think is the biggest job. Delayed Flash support on ARM Cortex A8 and A9 processors was one part of it, my theory is also that ARM has had to wait for the Chrome browser to come and smooth things up and optimize speed of Javascripts and AJAX-heavy websites as well. It wouldn’t look good enough for consumers if AJAX versions of Gmail, Facebook and Flash-heavy sites like Youtube and Hulu weren’t able to display correctly and feel like the browsing experience was as fast as on Intel.

Now though with Google Chrome for ARM and Flash for ARM being finalized, and also even the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processors starting to become available, performance for a full PC web browsing experience on ARM should be real.

Once full web browsing performance is working, once all major websites load instantly on ARM laptops, from then on, advances in processors I think will be more about lowering cost and lowering power consumption further, then there would even be the need for any performance increases. The performance increases can be used in server parks powering the processor intensive tasks in the cloud, but the web browser access terminal just needs to have a perfect web browsing experience to unlock an experience that all consumers will like.

ARM Laptops to even support heavy Multimedia authoring applications on the cloud:

Clever cloud computing should even allow for very advanced video-editing, image rendering, even 3D graphics acceleration and 3D games can be streamed to a thin client that just needs to run some kind of 3D engine. Even professionals and advanced users will prefer an ARM laptop for video editing, if they have a fast enough upload speed to store the original native video files on the cloud, display AJAXified video-editing user interfaces and thumbnails in the web browser or in an app that interfaces with the cloud, and then you can have a grid of servers on the cloud processing, rendering and encoding the videos much faster than any multi-core local processor could do it. Imagine clicking a button and having 2000 servers on an FFmpeg grid encode your hour-long HD video for you in a minute. All video editing and encoding professionals would love to have that setup.

Found via: Techmeme.com

Flash support on all ARM Cortex A8, A9 devices

Posted by – April 29, 2010

Up until last year, I didn’t like the business model around Adobe Flash at all. My theory was that Flash was basically used by Microsoft, Apple and Intel to block mass adoption of open source Linux and embedded Linux operating systems as there was no good enough Flash support on open source computers and embedded devices.

On the other hand, and as I am not a developer with access to Adobe’s source code so I can’t really know how hard it is for them to optimize their proprietary source code, perhaps Flash isn’t as bloated as I thought, but that it really represents graphics intensive animations and embedding of videos which actually are really hard to process using multi-purpose processors and which really perform much better once it can be made to use the latest hardware acceleration.

Check out my video filmed with Adobe Flash products manager Richard Galvan at Mobile World Congress 2010 demonstrating Flash support on the ARM Cortex A8 based Nexus One and Motorola Droid as well as a very interesting demonstration of the controversial Creative Suite 5 authoring software suite on which Adobe is demonstrating the infamous “Export to iPhone” option, where developers can input any Flash application based on ActionScript3 and output it in the iPhone applications format. Thus develop once and output all hardware platforms.

The big talk right now on Techmeme is the funny war going on where Apple doesn’t want to support the Flash format on the ARM Cortex A8 based iphone, ipod touch and ipad. Even though technically, Flash certainly could work on those devices. It’s probably just a question of a few megabytes of plug-in code that would have to be installed with the Safari browser on those devices.

My guess? Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer are angry at Adobe’s Open Screen Project. Up until last year, Microsoft and Apple had the exclusive platforms to have hardware accelerated Flash support on X86. Nobody else could get full Flash support, especially as Flash 9 fragmented into ActionScript3 based Flash projects which more and more displayed either not at all on Open Source OSes or displayed really badly, without hardware acceleration. My guess also is that Microsoft’s attempt with releasing Silverlight may also be a provocation against Adobe which pushed them further to optimize Flash for embedded Linux and thus support Flash everywhere else than Microsoft/Apple/Intel.

My point? To some degree, one of the main reasons Linux hasn’t yet caught on for mass market mass consumer adoption on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones has so far been the lack of decent Flash support. Sure, there are many many other factors. But Flash support was an important problem that up until recently released Ubuntu 10.4, hardware acceleration of Flash wasn’t even available for Linux!!

Of course I still wish Adobe would bluntly just announce that they will open-source Flash and licence it out for free (they can still release proprietary authoring tools that they can sell for lots of money to developers). And for sure, I am a proponent of HTML5, Ogg Theora 2.0 (based on Google’s On2 VP8 codec), for sure I can’t wait to see Google’s Native Client plugin for Browsers, Google’s 3D plugin for Browsers (like the very impressive new Google Earth for Google Maps in the browser (not for Linux yet)).

For now, especially as I expect Flash support in Android and Chrome OS can be fully hardware accelerated, run smoothly and nicely as Adobe has been investing hundreds of full time engineers in optimizing this process over the last couple of years. As I don’t expect any other aspects of Android and Chrome OS will feel any slower or any more bloated by adding Flash support. I don’t think Apple’s choice of excluding Flash is a good choice for their users.

What will happen? I think consumers will enjoy Flash support on Android, Chrome OS and other embedded Linux it also looks very impressive and nicely hardware accelerated in Ubuntu 10.4. If Apple persists in wanting to exclude the Flash plugin for non-technical reasons, consumers will likely buy Android and Chrome OS devices instead. In any ways, competition is good and in the coming months, it will be very interesting for me to film demonstrations of Android Tablets, Phones and Laptops with hopefully full and smooth Flash support.