Adobe Flash is coming to TVs, set-top boxes

Adobe has secured a deal to put its Flash software into many of the chips that go inside TVs and set-top boxes.

It will enable developers and content providers to create applications to deliver web-based content such as news, weather and share prices to TV screens.

Flash will be included on most chips -those made by Broadcom, Intel, NXP and STMicroelectronics - but the deal does not cover TVs made by Sony and Samsung.

The first applications using Flash are expected to hit TV sets early in 2010.

In theory, this means we'll see a wave of Flash-enabled DVRs, set-top boxes and HDTVs by the middle of this year, and they told us you'll see new Flash applications for the framework early next. Since Yahoo actually uses Flash in their own widget framework for TVs, they're not exactly competing—Adobe wins either way. Adobe's goal is to be just as ubiquitous on embedded devices as it is on computers connected to the web: Over 90 percent have the Flash plug-in installed.

The company has also adapted its technology to create a mobile version of Flash that is used on smartphones. The mobile version lets people watch Flash-enabled video on the go. Now Adobe is turning its attention to the living room and big screen HD TVs. This means that people could have full access to the entire YouTube library of video on their TVs instead of a subset that has been specially encoded for TV viewing.

"There are some products and services that offer a subset of online video for TVs," said Anup Murarka, director of technology strategy and partner development for Adobe's Flash Platform Business Unit. "But they don't provide all the content. For example, a lot of devices play back YouTube content. But they can't offer all the videos on YouTube."

Developers will also be able to create "widgets" for TVs to help bring Web content onto the TV screen. Widgets are specially designed Web applications that can easily be added to consumer electronics devices.

Yahoo is also offering widget technology for TVs, which it co-developed with Intel. The Yahoo Widget Channel provides access to Flickr, Yahoo News, Yahoo Weather and Yahoo Finance, USA Today, YouTube, eBay and Showtime Networks, among others. Motorola, Samsung, and Toshiba are all planning to add Yahoo Widgets on some of their new TVs.

Murarka said that Yahoo is not really competing with Adobe. He pointed out that both Adobe and Yahoo are working with Intel, and he said the Flash technology was actually complimentary to what Yahoo is doing with its Widget Channel.

"Yahoo supports Flash on desktops and our hope is that they will support Flash in TVs as well," he said. "We see Flash as being valuable in a number of new frame works."

Murarka wouldn't say which consumer electronics makers plan to use the new version of Flash, but the technology is available to device makers and application developers now. And Flash-enabled TVs and set-tops should be out later this year.