Andy Rubin, Google's vice president of engineering, announced the agreement, or deal, or whatever you'd call it, on Adobe's company blog. The gist is that Google is working together with Adobe to bring both AIR and Flash to the Android platform.
"Partnerships have been at the very heart of Android, the first truly open and comprehensive mobile platform, since we first introduced it with the Open Handset Alliance," Rubin writes, "Through close relationships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, Google is working to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. Today we're excited that, working with Adobe, we will be able to bring both AIR and Flash to Android."
Rubin then goes on to more or less attack Apple head-on. "Google believes that developers should have their choice of tools and technologies to create applications," he writes, "By supporting Adobe AIR on Android we hope that millions of creative designers and developers will be able to express themselves more freely when they create applications for Android devices. More broadly, AIR will foster rapid and continuous innovation across the mobile ecosystem."
Yes, the struggle between Apple and Google is heating up even further, and unlikely partnerships can be made there. Google already delivers Flash through Chrome (optionally), and now, they're working with Adobe to bring Flash and AIR towards Android. While I personally have no interest in Flash, it's a good thing that Android is open like this - users are not forced to install and/or use Flash or AIR applications, but can do so if they so desire.
"Google is happy to be partnering with Adobe to bring the full web, great applications, and developer choice to the Android platform," Rubin adds, "Our engineering teams have been working closely to bring both AIR and Flash Player to Google's mobile operating system and devices. The Android platform is enjoying great adoption, and we expect our work with Adobe will help that growth continue."
Whether or not this will sway developers to work on Android remains to be seen. It will all depend on how pervasive both AIR and Flash will be on other platforms; if they come to webOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, then people making games would have to go through a lot of extra effort to support the iPhone. With Android rising quickly in popularity, Apple might find out it shot itself in the foot.
Speculation, of course. For now, the iPhone is the most popular mobile platform for application developers, and that surely won't change overnight.