Flash Could Soon Show Up on a Smartphone Near You
By Carlo Longino, Fri Feb 11 17:15:00 GMT 2005

The mobile version of Macromedia's popular Flash player has been conspicuous mostly by its absence outside Japan. But the company has announced a licensing deal that should greatly expand its footprint.

There's little doubt that Flash could be a disruptive force in the mobile market. Through opening up mobiles to the legions of Flash developers, and empowering a generation of user-created content from non-developers, the potential is clear. But unlike the wired Internet, where the free availability of Flash played a role in its ubiquity, Macromedia chose not to release Flash Lite openly and publicly, preferring to bind it to handsets, and in some cases, carrier-supported applications. Consequently, outside Japan, where Flash Lite is on about 15 percent of handsets, the software has been little more than a talking point.

Now, following last month's announcement that Samsung would install Flash Lite on its handsets comes the announcement that Nokia has licensed the software, first for its Series 60 smartphone platform, and later on its other platforms.

Nokia was the leading smartphone vendor in 2004, with the vast majority of those devices running the Series 60 user interface. The footprint of Flash-enabled handsets will expand exponentially as soon as handsets featuring the software are released, and the move should ensure a significant user base for developers to cater to. No word yet if the software will be made available for older S60 devices, which would expand the pool even further.

Still, one has to wonder why Macromedia is choosing solely to distribute Flash Lite through licensing, not through public download. It's a question the company is sure to get asked again and again next week at the 3GSM World Congress.