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Flash Comes to the Living Room

Adobe today announced that it has partnered with a number of prominent content creators and hardware manufacturers to bring its Flash platform to the living room. As a part of this initiative, Adobe will release a new version of Flash that will be optimized to run on set-top boxes, Internet-enabled TVs, and Blu-ray players. Among Adobe’s partners are Broadcom, Comcast, Intel, Netflix, The New York Times Company, and Disney. The company expects that these companies will release the first Flash-enabled devices in the second half of 2009.

Competition from Yahoo and Microsoft

Adobe, of course, isn’t alone in trying to make a push for the living room. Microsoft is also trying to aim for the same market with its Silverlight platform. Although Silverlight has been used to power some high-profile events lately, including NBC’s Olympics site, it is still only a minor player in the overall market.

Last August, Intel and Yahoo also announced an initiative to bring Yahoo widgets to TVs. Even though other vendors like Verizon already offer some widgets on their set-top boxes, these solutions are often too clunky to be really useful.

Similar to Silverlight, the new Adobe platform will not just focus on widgets, however. Adobe also plans to give content creators the ability to stream HD video directly to these devices.

Interestingly, Netflix, which currently uses Silverlight to power its browser-based players, is also among Adobe’s launch partners.

Can Flash Succeed Where Others Have Failed?

Interactive TV has long held a lot of promise, but the idea never really caught on with consumers. Flash, however, may be able to change this. Adobe can rely on a dedicated group of third-party developers who will only have to make minor changes to their programs to make them run on these Flash-enabled devices.

Hopefully, Adobe will create an App Store-like experience that will allow developers to promote their apps and allow consumers the ability to pick and choose widgets for their TVs.

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