March 9, 2007
Java's reign as the leader on handsets and other mobile devices may get a serious run for its money this year if more carriers start adopting Adobe's Flash Lite.Adobe, which is working on version 3.0 of its lightweight Flash platform, was quick to show off the company's current 2.1 version's prowess and other features when working with Qualcomm's BREW format this past week. The two companies did a joint presentation at the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, on Tuesday.
Flash Lite version 2.0 has already won accolades for its adoption of ActionScript 2.0 as well as local storage and XML support. But more than that, Flash Lite is starting to make inroads with wireless telecom providers. I've talked to three carriers now (who wished to remain anonymous) that are giving Flash Lite a serious look. The complaint is Java Micro Edition -- the platform formerly known as J2ME -- is too complex to develop, takes up too much space, and needs to collaborate better with non-Java platforms. Adobe's challenge, according to the carriers, is that Flash Lite sometimes depends on workarounds for devices based on Java's mobile infrastructure (see: Porting J2ME games to Flash Lite). Flash Lite has also needed to encourage more development on the GSM phone standard. Adobe has lots of connections in this area, but has not gotten as much play on GSM handsets as it does with ones embedded with BREW technologies. Outside of Verizon, which is a staunch CDMA and BREW supporter, carriers probably won't get too excited about Flash Lite -- at least until after version 3.0 is released. Sun Microsystems, which moderates Java ME has decided to release its source code through its phoneME and cqME projects. The move could help expand Java's universe beyond its present boundaries, but the weight of the code still needs to be addressed, according to some. Keep your eyes open between now and the JavaOne conference in May. If Sun can whip up some excitement about Java ME's abilities and keep developers in line, they could eclipse any Flash Lite upgrades. Surely though, Adobe can smell mobile money in the water, and the time to attack the Java ME carriers and developers might be close at hand.
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