Already the idea of using Web languages and tools to build smartphone applications is taking hold. Palm has built an entire smartphone platform around the idea. Apple supports the use of Web technologies like AJAX to build applications based on the iPhone's Safari browser, though it doesn't emphasize that fact in its marketing. And developers will soon even be able to build Web-based applications for BlackBerry handsets, thanks to a new SDK from Research in Motion.
By comparison, Flash is still a niche player on mobile handsets, where it's used more for playing YouTube videos than for delivering real application experiences. Adobe claims its Flash Lite player will be on 1 billion handsets by year's end -- and Flash video is even coming to TVs -- but convincing developers of its value as a legitimate application development platform remains an uphill battle.
A version of Flash that can output ARM binaries opens the iPhone to all of the developers who are already building Flash games for the Web. That's a potentially huge market, and it will be interesting to see how many take the bait. If Adobe can extend this idea to other smartphone platforms and create a true cross-platform mobile development environment, it would have a compelling offering. Still, it wouldn't be the first. As late to the game as it is, what Adobe needs now is to convince developers that Flash is better than the other options -- and that could be a tough sell.