Flash Rocks on Android Handsets

I have to say that Google’s support for Flash on the Android platform always seemed like a case of strange bedfellows to me. After all, Google is the company that paid over $100 million for On2 just to open source the VP8 codec (as WebM), reviving the hopes of the HTML5 community. If Apple can live without Flash on the iOS platform, why can’t Google do the same on Android? 

Well, according to a new report from colleague Tim Siglin entitled The Right Fit? Video Playback Performance on Android Handset and Tablet Devices Using Adobe Flash Player 10.2 and 10.3, Google needs Flash to provide consistency of user experience and high quality video playback performance across a range of Android-powered devices. While many thought that HTML5 would dominate on mobile platforms, beyond iOS, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Briefly, Siglin tested 8 Android devices, comparing the frames per second produced by Flash playback with browser-based playback and non-Flash playback in Android utilities. Here’s a blurb from his summary:

Our current testing finds that Flash Player 10.2 on handsets and 10.3 on the Xoom:

• Provide a more consistent media consumption than Android’s built-in apps and services.
• Plays content at better frame rates than built-in apps and services, with minimal battery impact,
yielding significant frames-per-second performance gains.

Maybe it’s just me, but HTML5 is increasingly looking like the emperor who wore no clothes. Google supports Flash because it improves the Android experience, nothing more, nothing less. While HTML5 gets all the positive press and favorable buzz, Adobe Flash keeps justifying its existence with pure utility on multiple platforms.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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