Amazon tests Flash support for Kindle Fire as new tablets wait in the wings

Amazon is trying to give mobile Flash a new lease on life, long after Adobe left the plug-in for dead on phones and tablets.

Citing an Amazon spokesman, All Things D reports that the company has been quietly testing Flash video playback on Kindle Fire devices since February. Users who try to watch video on sites like NBC.com and CBS.com may see an option to enable an “experimental streaming viewer” that plays Flash content.

All Things D
The option to watch Flash video in an "experimental streaming viewer" is offered on this Kindle.

To help handle the load, the experimental viewer uses Amazon’s Silk browser technology, which processes and compresses webpages on Amazon servers.

“We also wanted to use the cloud to offer new features or capabilities that solve customer frustrations—one we heard often from customers was that they wanted to view Flash content,” Amazon spokesman Kurt Kufeld told All Things D.

History

Adobe stopped developing the mobile version of Flash Player in November 2011, and withdrew its Android app from the Google Play Store less than a year ago. On Android devices, Flash was always a bit clumsy, demanding lots of system resources and running into stability problems.

Apple’s famous refusal to allow Flashon the iPhone and iPad led many online video services to adopt native apps and HTML5-based web players as an alternative. Adobe is now focusing its efforts on HTML5 and native apps as well.

Still, there are lots of video sites that require Flash, such as TheDailyShow.com. For these sites, Amazon will take a controlled approach, supporting just a handful of video sources and slowly expanding support to more sites over time.

adobe flash logo

It’s unclear when Flash will become more broadly available on Kindle Fire tablets though, if the feature works as well as Amazon says, it could make a useful addition to the company’s next generation of tablets.

Unnamed sources tell Boy Genius Report that a trio of new Kindle Fires will be out this fall, with higher-resolution displays and lighter designs than the current models.

Just one thing to consider: Your inability to watch full TV episodes on NBC.com or Fox.com is more about strategy than technology. As we saw with the blocking of network TV shows from Google TV and other Flash-enabled devices, networks want to tightly control how their content is accessed on tablets and televisions. Amazon may find that if it does enable Flash more broadly, the Kindle Fire could quickly become cut off from the videos that Flash was meant to access.

Product mentioned in this article

(1 items)

  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9

    The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 delivers Amazon's customized tablet experience in a sturdy tablet with a roomier 8.9-inch display. Its heavy integration with Amazon's services is a strength, but also a limitation.

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