Google's technology offers the same advantages for free
With the release of Adobe Flash Player 11.2 and AIR 3.2, the company also made an interesting announcement, certain technologies will only be available to developers that cut a revenue deal with Adobe.Specifically, developers that want to port an existing game to Flash or want to build a game that will work with Flash Player, but also natively on the PC or on game consoles, are the targeted ones.
These developers will have to start paying nine percent of the net revenue from their games.
Adobe's strategy may have been a solid one in a world where there were no free alternatives. We do not live in that world.
One obvious alternative is Native Client, the browser technology pushed by Google. Like Adobe Flash's premium features, it enables developers to take an existing code base and have it ported and working inside Chrome via the web within weeks.
Also like Adobe's premium features, Native Client enables apps to access the GPU, for hardware acceleration while running in a sandbox, meaning they have no direct access to the system.
In fact, the premium features compete directly and completely with Native Client. From a technological point of view, the only difference between the two approaches will be in performance.
But given that Native Client is already sporting some impressive numbers and real-world games working in the browser and that Flash's history in this department is rather problematic, Google may have the advantage on this point as well.
One advantage that Adobe is touting is Flash's install base. There are well over one billion computers with Flash in the world and some 500 million mobile devices capable of running AIR apps, but not Flash necessarily. Note that AIR apps are not subject to the premium features rule, everything is free.
However, this is hypothetical user base, Google Chrome may only have 200 million users, maybe 300 million by the time the premium features debut, but it's got a way of reaching each and every one of them via the Chrome Web Store, something Adobe can't match.