Friday, November 11, 2005

Article: Flash for mobiles

Cell phone applications are usually done either in Java, BREW, or in the case of smart phones, in the native language of the phone such as Symbian or Windows Mobile. Recently however, there's a new player that got interested in entering the market: Flash.

Flash is a popular language from Macromedia used mainly to make interactive web sites. You may recall web sites you visited that feature games or other interactive animations, and those usually use Flash. Now enters Flash Lite, the mobile version of the player, able to play flash movies and applications. Flash Lite is a Java player that supports a subset of the standard Flash language, and it includes a development kit for developers. It's not ready for end users yet but you can buy the mobile player for $10. The development kit intended for developers is free.

There's already some applications available such as the ones at the Flash Lite Exchange contest. The main advantage of Flash Lite over using Java is the Flash language, which makes development of interactive and animated movies easy, and the resulting file is pretty small. While this language is only starting to appear in the west, in Japan it's already part of DoCoMo's i-mode experience, and comes on several devices.

It's hard to say if Flash Lite will become a popular language. One thing that needs to happen for that is the player must become free, and it needs to come pre-installed on many phones, or at least be downloadable easily from the phone. Also the player currently only supports playing Flash movies on the device, not from the mobile web browser. If Macromedia does everything right, it may be a success, like it was for the web.

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