Adobe revamps Flash animation for mobile

SAN FRANCISCO — Adobe Systems Inc. has released Macromedia Flash Lite 2 and Macromedia Flash Player SDK 7, software tools that enable developers to incorporate embedded software based on Flash animation into mobile phones and other handheld devices.According to Adobe, which finalized the acquisition of Macromedia last month, Flash Player SDK 7 is optimized for consumer electronic devices, enabling consumer electronics manufacturers, system integrators and browser companies to create products and services with full web browsing capabilities that leverage Internet sites featuring Flash content.

According to Anup Muraka, Adobe’s senior director of marketing and mobile devices, Adobe/Macromedia has seen enormous growth in the interest in Flash for mobile devices as the complexity of these devices has risen in recent years. Shipments of mobile devices running Flash have more than tripled in the last 12 months, he said, from 12 million to 45 million units. Muraka believes adoption of Flash for mobile devices will continue to increase along with device complexity.

A number of manufacturers are currently shipping Flash technology-enabled mobile phones and consumer electronics devices, including Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Kodak and Reigncom, according to Adobe, which commands a per-unit royalty on every Flash-enabled device.

The ability of Flash to create a compelling user interface and more dynamic functionality for cell phones and other mobile devices is easily observed. And as developers are able to pack handheld devices with more and more computing power, the common wisdom is that they will seek to not only load devices with more functionality, but endeavor to create a better and more intuitive user experience. This, Muraka says, is where Flash comes in.

According to Adobe (San Jose, Calif.), Flash Lite 2 and Flash Player SDK 7 enable OEMs, consumer electronics device manufacturers and operators to provide rich, customizable user interfaces, while delivering more consistent consumer experiences across devices, operating systems, processors and screen sizes. Flash Lite 2 and Flash Player SDK, Adobe claims, can also reduce deployment costs and deliver content and interfaces three to five times faster than competing solutions.

“Flexible user interfaces are a key differentiator and a significant part of the value creation on devices,” said John Jackson, senior analyst at Yankee Group, in a statement issued by Adobe. “Flash Lite 2 and Flash Player SDK 7 expand vendors’ and operators’ U/I options and open the mobile market to a broader base of content and prolific developers.”

While previous versions of the products were built on Flash Player 6, both Flash Lite 2 and Flash Player SDK 7 are built on Flash Player 7. This includes ActionScript 2 support, Unicode support for international markets, tighter device integration, persistent data management, reduced memory consumption and improved XML data handling, Adobe said.

While Adobe’s Flash technology for mobile devices still lags the company’s leading-edge Flash technology for desktop computers (Flash Player 8 has been available since last summer), Muraka said the gap is closing and that the company would eventually offer Flash for mobile devices that is based on the latest and greatest Flash player.

Devices powered by Flash Lite 2 and Flash Player SDK 7 are expected to be available later this year, Adobe said. Licensing information is available on the Adobe Web site.

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