Nokia, DoCoMo Onboard for Video-Capable Flash Lite 3

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Nokia, DoCoMo Onboard for Video-Capable Flash Lite 3
Nokia, DoCoMo Onboard for Video-Capable Flash Lite 3

Adobe Systems today unveils Flash Lite 3, bringing Flash Player compatible video and Flash-enabled Web site browsing to mobile devices through device manufacturer and application developer partners including Nokia and NTT DoCoMo.

Flash Lite 3 is based on Flash Player 8 and designed to push the small-footprint runtime software toward desktop-like rendering of video and animation, even on mobile devices with significantly less capability than desktop PCs.

In terms of media capabilities, Flash Lite 3 “brings us as close as ever to the desktop player—effectively one release behind” the desktop version, says Anup Muraka, director, technical marketing, mobile and devices, for Adobe, describing release 3 as “a major upgrade.”

Nokia initially will target Flash Lite 3 to its S60 Smartphone and then to other devices. The partners additionally “have moved to foster the entire ecosystem,” says Christian Buchbauer, alliance director, Forum Nokia, a company unit that serves a community of some 3.4 million developers. “We will deeply collaborate on development programs, tools and deployment channels.”

Noting that Adobe’s own community includes about 1.5 million developers, Buchbauer says, “We intend to help them understand what goes on in mobile and how to get their content rendered on our devices. At the same time, more than 3 million developers in Nokia Forum are obviously not all Flash developers, and this partnership will help them embrace Flash.”

By the end of April, Nokia had shipped approximately 100 million Series 60 devices, “a very good opportunity in the smart device market” for developers, who also can target Nokia’s highly popular Series 40 devices which has supported earlier Flash Lite releases, he says.

Nokia’s embrace of Flash Lite aligns with its launch last month of its own content and applications portal, Ovi, which is to feature music, games and other content and commerce. The company says its Content Discoverer on-device portal for S60 and Series 40 devices now will be enabled by Flash Lite. The Nokia Content Discoverer incorporates an application designed to enable mobile phone users to connect to a catalog of content such as ringing tones and videos.

Although mobile devices are getting more powerful, the overwhelming majority still lack the processing power, screen sizes or memory capacity familiar to PC users, says Adobe’s Muraka, who explains that Flash Lite’s efficient resource management capabilities optimize the ability to render rich media on those less capable devices. “With the availability of Flash Video now in Flash Lite 3 through Flash Player codecs for mobile phones, we think you’ll see a real boom in devices supporting Web experiences in Flash 8 and probably re-authored [in Flash Lite 3] to take advantage of mobile phones.”

On the manufacturing side, he says, “many licensees will be building new phones and other devices around Flash Lite 3” beyond Nokia and NTT DoCoMo. NTT, as the first operator to provide Flash-based phones on a widespread basis, is now positioned to evangelize Flash Lite 3 through an established Flash development community and device ecosystem in Japan.

“We are pleased to continue our strong partnership with Adobe and are looking forward to providing our users with rich content using Flash Lite 3,” says Kiyohito Nagata, senior vice president and managing director of the Product Department of NTT DoCoMo.

More than 300 million phones and other consumer devices now employ Flash, which is enjoying 100 percent year-on-year growth in numbers of devices. “We expect to cross over one billion devices by 2010,” Muraka says. “We’re getting closer to the point where there will be more phones and other mobile devices using Flash than there are desktop PCs.”

Toward that end, nokia.mosh.com, a user-defined channel for distribution of applications and content targeted to developers, will now support developers who create Flash Lite 3 applications. “Through us, you get visibility and download functionality, enabling developers to market their content,” Buchbauer says.

Nokia Forum particularly will help point developers to Adobe Creative Suite 3.0 (CS3) development suite features like Device Central, a tool that enables preview of content on specific handsets and other devices during the development process. “We believe Device Central will be critical as developers migrate from PCs to new business opportunities around mobile,” Buchbauer says.

Adobe has extended CS3 and Device Central to support Flash Lite 3. “We’re working with Nokia to evangelize the development community,” Muraka says. “User generated content is probably the most visible use case. You have a generation of mobile consumers who want access to their content, and with mobile devices becoming more capable, that’s becoming possible. There are also cases for commercial video, as companies like Viacom are using Flash to make their content available via mobile as well. A lot of the industry is hoping user generated content will be a big factor in driving more mobile video usage.”

Nokia Forum provides four runtime engines on the N60 and other devices: Flash Lite, Java/J2EE, Symbian C++, Open C, and Nokia’s own runtime software underlying its browser. While the current implementation of video is for Flash Lite 3 only, Buchbauer says, Nokia will “gradually” make the codecs available to the other runtimes.

“What the industry is focusing on now is Flash video, since a lot of user generated content is utilizing Adobe,” he says. “We collaborate very closely with Adobe on what would make sense in features and functions on our devices. We work together on the tools side and also develop communications and support across both companies to take care of the community, including aiding developers in getting into the business and deployed. We’ve developed programs around this including a new one targeted to creative professionals and advertisers coming in the next several weeks. Media houses and advertisers will very much like animated Flash ringtones, a whole new media opportunity.”

Adobe Flash Lite runs on multiple platforms, including S60 on Symbian OS, 2nd and 3rd Edition; Qualcomm BREW 2.x/3.x; Microsoft Windows Mobile 5; and on embedded operating systems on a variety of OEM platforms.

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