With news today that Adobe have dropped the Flash Lite redistributable, it has made me question whether it’s the start of the end for Flash Lite. Recent Adobe redundancies and a new focus of running full flash on mobile also tend to suggest Flash Lite might eventually be a casualty.
In terms of S60, recent (and probably some future) S60 phones and older phones with upgraded firmware will continue to run Flash Lite so it’s not going to go away overnight. However, I suspect the open sourcing of the OS via the Symbian Foundation will be the end of Flash Lite on S60 because I anticipate it’s not an addition that would be open sourced.
As you can see from my previous posts below, I was never a great fan of Flash Lite.
Yesterday, I mentioned that the presentations from the Symbian Smartphone were now online. Taking a look at them, I’d single out at least two that are particularly worth looking at if you are interested in market statistics…
Mr Adolfo Galindo González’s Senior Expert, Handsets and Smartcards, Telefonica. The role of applications in the network operator business. This includes an interesting chart on current platform market share…
Mr Neil Mawston, Director, Global Wireless Practice, Strategy Analytics. Smartphones: high growth, high profit. Here is Strategy Analytics’ view of current market share (Aug 2008)…
Strategy Analytics says that "Smartphones are fast becoming a high volume segment". Here is their prediction for near future global smartphone shipments…
What has interested me the most about these statistics is that it’s RIM rather than Apple that has sustained growth and market share over the last few years. I suppose Apple will always have peaks and troughs in sales as long as it only has one current model.
Janus Symbian Engine has just gone open source. Janus allows S60 Flash Lite applications to access phone features that aren’t part of Flash Lite. It does this by setting up a local http server which, in turn, accesses the OS.
Open sourcing will make this technique more attractive to companies who previously might not have wanted to rely on a closed, unknown implementation. It also presents some interesting opportunities to extend the http server to allow Flash Lite to access to further phone or 3rd party features.
Felipe Andrade and Alessandro Pace have created Jarpa, "Java Packaging for Flash Lite Developers".
The latest S60 phones support both Java ME and Flash Lite. Jarpa allows Flash Lite Developers to deliver their content as Java ME applications. The Java and Flash Lite can communicate via either files or a custom Symbian Server.
I have had a quick look and the current source code shows how to extract a Flash Lite file from Java resources and run it. There’s also an example demonstration application .jar.
It will be great when the source also shows how to communicate via files (and/or C++ server) both from the Java and Flash Lite sides.
This looks similar to Sony Ericsson’s Capuchin project except this is for Nokia S60.
There’s an interesting article ‘Fragmentation is the enemy of innovation‘ on the MEX blog – especially interesting for me as I am quoted in it.
I also tend to think Flash Lite’s new zero cost licensing has come too late – I criticised Flash Lite licensing in 2005. As an aside, Adobe’s existing shipped 500m licenses are mainly for early functionally deficient versions of Flash Lite so these volumes mean nothing.
Even though the licenses are now free to phone OEMs, integrating Flash Lite into a phone isn’t a zero cost option and it requires development and possibly better hardware (more ROM). As we have seen with the current iPhone, it may not be considered to be viable.
When users have more capable mobile browsers, they expect to be able to view Flash Content. Flash content found on the web, can’t be played in Flash Lite so phone OEMs will question whether Flash Lite is really worth including.
I currently don’t see Flash Lite as the predominant future development platform. We need something new, non-proprietary, possibly more web technology based, to bridge across all development platforms.
I was sad to hear today that Sonopia has failed. I previously thought Sonopia presented some interesting opportunities for more vertical applications (see Related Articles below).
While I don’t know much about what happened within Sonopia, I suspect it is it might have failed because people didn’t want to give up their existing phone, tariff or carrier for an affinity phone. Also, like many MVNOs, Sonopia probably didn’t truly distance themselves enough from the restrictions the underlying carrier (Verizon) nor expand into other parts of the World.
Update: Sonopia is not shutting down but "drastically scaling back its business and essentially hibernating… and looking at expanding into Europe".
There are so many developer competitions on at the moment. As well as the high profile Android Challenge there’s also UIQ’s Open, BT’s Wi-Fi Challenge and Nokia’s Mobile Rules.
One you may not of heard of is the Adobe/Playyoo contest geared towards Flash Lite game developers.
One of the problems with Flash Lite is that you can’t access many of the phone’s features. Recently, I came across Flyer that extends Flash Lite 2.1 to allow you to use Python on S60. This allows you to…
Take photos with device camera from Flash Lite
Take device screenshots from Flash Lite
Send files over a bluetooth connection from Flash Lite
Get the contact entries in the default device database
Perform text To speech
Record sound and playback
What’s more, it’s also all open source. However, I encourage you to sponsor the project as 60% of all donations to the Flyer Project will be for Brazilian Children. Also, it will help fund the following features that are currently in development…
File upload to a remote server
GPS module to display latitude, longitude, satellite count, and time
Record device screen as Flash Video
Get Inbox SMS messages