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Not that shocking: Flash on Android called “Shockingly Bad”



GigaOM teammates Ryan Lawler of NewTeeVee and one Kevin C. Tofel of jkOnTheRun provide commentary and video showing off Kev’s Nexus One running Android 2.2 Froyo and Adobo Flash 10.1. Or at least trying to run Flash 10.1. The results are not good, but are they “shockingly bad”?

Kevin runs through several sites, including ABC, Fox, and Metacafe, with no real luck. He gets stuck on the first. Another gets the Hulu “we don’t support mobile devices” block. The videos that do work run poorly.

There are a few ways to look at this. First is Ryan’s assessment that (real) Flash still isn’t ready for mobile devices. I would point out, however, that the Nexus One is no longer the belle of the Android ball. Eight months is barely long enough to bring a child into the world (prematurely), but it’s a long time in the smartphone market. Kev’s N1 may be sadly obsolete despite rocking a 1Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

That said, I run Flash video on my media PC with 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor and 4GB of ram just about every day, and the experience isn’t that great either. Videos play consistently, but I’d say about 20% of the time, something weird or odd happens. Audio drops out of sync. Ads get stuck. Just last week, I watched an entire episode of The Daily Show with the “Press ESC to exit full screen” message on the screen the whole time. 20% doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you watch 2-3 videos a day (TDS and The Colbert Report, plus others), it adds up to a problem every other day. For comparison, Flash-based Hulu works much more consistently for me than the Comedy Central videos, and I’ve run into only one problem with Silverlight-based Netflix.

But again, while the results of Kevin’s video are clear, they are open to interpretation. If you’ve had better luck with Flash 10.1, let us know.



  1. GoodThings2Life

    08/31/2010 at 4:17 pm

    I would say that Flash, in general, is shockingly bad these days while pointing out that my experience on the EVO is much better than what they reported. However, I do experience problems from time to time.

    Some of it may be the fault of sites and the bandwidth available to stream high-bandwidth content rather than that of the device itself.

    • GoodThings2Life

      08/31/2010 at 5:03 pm

      Clarification on my comment… because I didn’t notice Kevin’s comment about being on wifi… but I was referring to the bandwidth of the server and video content in question, not the end-user experience. Not only can a bad site design prevent content from loading (ie Hulu’s blocking, and I bet ABC’s as well), but the sheer size of the video content could present an issue for the mobile devices.

  2. Paul

    08/31/2010 at 10:38 pm

    The flash experience on my nexus one is great. Videos play fine on mega video and other sites. I wish hulu or netflix would go mobile or get an android app.

  3. jl

    09/01/2010 at 6:20 am

    I’ve been waiting for an Android tablet that I can use to watch ‘drama’ sites. MOST, if not all, use Flash-based viewers. My son brought his new DROID over last weekend, and I tried it on a couple of those sites, and it worked fine over WIFI. Not sure why the author had such problems…

  4. Chad Essley

    09/01/2010 at 1:17 pm

    Great video, however these points are completely overlooked:

    Metacafe is a particularly bad example of flash on the web. They layer flash movie on top of another flash movie, in order to serve up ads, and it isn’t done very well. Certainly not with mobile flash in mind. Not to mention, the browser being set to just run all the flash containers on the page at once.

    The real true test, is going to a simple flash site, with lots of complex vector animation going on in it, or video that doesn’t have another .swf advertising layer on top of it. ( say most of the videos on youtube. )

    Clear away the extra layering and bad programming cruft, and you’ll see flash working just beautifully on mobile devices.

    If you doubt it, take a look using your android phone, at a few old flash demo reels of mine. A simple .flv (Flash video format) – and a pure vector graphics, .swf with a lot of complex drawing going on:


    For the animators out there, back when the flash revolution started in the dot com era, cica 2000, you needed a 1000 mhz computer to be able to play flash at 720×480 at 30 frames per second. I now have a 1000 mhz phone in my pocket, and Adobe has really done an amazing job of making the flash player do just that. Sure, it’s not totally perfect, but it’s the raw performance of the devices we have, in combo with bad flash authoring that is to blame for poor flash performance on mobile devices.


  5. Yniukk

    10/09/2010 at 8:28 pm

    I Watched this video from my galaxy s running froyo. I also tried the 3 sites that were mentioned, over 3g and they worked fine. It was a bit choppy, but flash on android is still in beta. I don’t know y the author faced so many issues. Weird.

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