Adobe Launches HD-Capable Flash Players in Beta

Adobe announced on Nov. 17 the release of two new online streaming players in beta (test) mode — Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 — that both support hardware-based H.264 (HD) video decoding, and appear most suited for handheld mobile devices, notably smart phones. (But that does not necessarily also include mobile devices, and specific mobile platforms were not part of this week's announcement.)

The upgrade from 10 to 10.1 for the Flash player is not being widely heralded as a major change in the platform, but given the ubiquitous nature of Flash players, it does afford a new opportunity for Adobe and similar firms to market the growth of HD-level video streaming on handheld devices smaller than laptops.

Over the next several months, nearly all major mobile platforms (with one notable exception: Apple's iPhone) will get Flash players, according to PC Magazine. Such mobile devices will include (likely among others) various new versions of the Palm, BlackBerry, and Android. Flash Player 10.1 is designed to provide support for decoding H.264 HD video, allowing chipmakers to create native-support chips.

Microsoft, too, is likely to announce some enhancements to its own Silverlight streaming package in the very near future.