Macromedia Flash Lite

125x94_flash.gifNokia recently licenced Macromedia Flash Lite. What does this mean for mobile developers?.

I was enrolled in the beta testing of Flash Lite which has since become available to developers for $9.95.

Macromedia has been trying to license Flash Lite to carriers and phone OEMs presumably because it sees these as large revenue earners. So far, Nokia, T-Mobile and Samsung are licensees. With this strategy Macromedia can’t give the player away free to consumers as it would conflict with making carriers and OEMs pay for it.

The main problem with this strategy is that it restricts the distribution of the player. They can’t even give it away to developers and currently say the $9.95, "covers our development, distribution, and support costs of the player to developers". Unlike the desktop flash, there’s no free player for consumers.

This puts developers off. The $9.95 isn’t a problem. However, developers (and their paymasters) want as large an audience as possible. From a technical viewpoint there are also currently a few small problems with Flash Lite. There’s no persistence to files which limits things. Also, the programming paradigm is (graphic) ‘design’ led rather than ‘programming’ led which might put some people off. Also, the tools are expensive for small developers. Finally, the resultant applications don’t have the OS (Series 60, UIQ) look and feel. For example, standard Series 60 lists are not supported.

In my opinion, Macromedia should stick to making profits from their tools. They currently want two pieces of the pie which may not work. Flash Lite is great. It’s a shame about the distribution policy.