Adobe CTO: Android will run majority of smartphones by Spring

November 10, 2010, 6:41 PM UTC

Also mobile broadband will surpass wireline speeds in the next three years or so.

Kevin Lynch (Courtesy:

If you think Gartner and IDC are bullish on Android, talk to Adobe (ADBE) CTO Kevin Lynch for a few minutes.  In an interview on Monday, Lynch told Fortune that he believes that Android’s growth will continue to blow past the industry and will make up 50% of the smartphone market within the next six months.

In the springtime, I think that’s when we’re going to see the crossover in terms of smartphone market share.  Android is really going to have a majority.  And some of the other phones, like iOS for example, from a market share perspective declining largely due to Android increasing.

You can look back at the PC revolution and I think we are in another revolution right now that is even more significant.  There are more formats right now.  There are more ways of interacting.  There are more people involved. A billion more people are joining the Internet right now and over the next 3-5 years.

So we’re going to see this huge shift in the way people use the Internet and that is a big opportunity for everybody too.

We are already seeing Apple’s (AAPL) iOS and Blackberry (RIMM) losing market share to Android simply because they aren’t growing fast enough to keep up. Lynch’s Adobe team works deeply with the Android developers at Google (GOOG) so he’s probably privy to information and forecasts that the public hasn’t yet seen.  His forecast gives Android two more quarters to go from 3% of the market in Q3 ’09 to 26% now to 50% in Q2 11.

That’s insane.  He expects Android to go from nothing to a majority of the market in the period of a typical U.S. mobile phone contract. 

Lynch on mobile broadband speeds compared to cable:

We’re actually going to see wireless bandwidth exceed wireline bandwidth …so that will happen in the next three years.  So right now you can get 7 Mbs if you are lucky…at the end of this year Verizon’s rolling out LTE in 20 cities which is 12 megabits per second…so already that is similar to cable speed for some people.  LTE will go up to 50 Mbs per second.  That technology can support 100 Mbs per second.  That’s about 10 times as fast as what many people have now.

That, of course, depends on wireline providers standing completely still…which they have for the better part of a decade.  Google is trying to push 1 Gbps fiber to homes and Verizon is experimenting with the same, but will those technologies reach the masses before the wireless carriers start to deploy?  And when does it become cheaper to build new wireless technology that connects thousands of people rather than run fiber to every home?

Lynch on why the smartphone revolution is happening right now:

A confluence of technology.  ARM chips are becoming powerful enough to have immersive experiences averaging 1GHz in speed, while battery life with lithium ion is making these devices portable.  Similar to PC doubling in speed every 18 months, so too are mobile devices.  Mobile devices are about 7 years behind PCs in overall speed, meaning what you carry in your pocket has the same capabilities as desktop PCs in 2003.  Also, the wireless speeds mentioned above are making mobile internet possible.

Android is a computer experience.  Adobe’s technologies are there as well.

On Skyfire, the browser that lets iOS devices watch some Flash Video by transcoding it into a form which iOS can play, becoming the number one download on Apple’s App Store:

It shows that the desire to run Flash on iOS is there.

I asked how long it would take for Adobe to ramp up Flash for the web if Apple changed its stance on Flash.  He wouldn’t give a time frame and based the timetable on how well Apple and Adobe would work together.  That seems like a pretty far off consideration at this point.

Adobe doesn’t benefit from a dominant PC player such as Microsoft gaining a majority of the market in smartphones.  If Android becomes 90% of the smartphone market, developers don’t have to use Flash or Air to build applications, they can just use Android’s tools.  That is why it is interesting to hear Lynch talk about Android becoming a majority player.