What is Adobe Flash Lite?

By | October 26, 2008

Adobe Flash Lite 3 is a lightweight version of the Adobe Flash Player developed by Adobe Systems for mobile phones and other non-phone, portable electronic devices.

First and foremost, Adobe Flash Lite allows users to browse the plethora of web content powered by Adobe Flash software. Such content and applications had previously only been accessible on personal computers.

Flash Lite 3 plays back FLV, currently the most popular video format on the Internet. Devices enabled with Flash Lite 3 can also access a multitude of dynamic applications — such as interactive games, mobile magazines, daily comics, screen savers, infotainment, and personal productivity software. Flash Lite 3 is based on the Flash platform, which is supported by a community of two million designers and developers.

Flash Lite has been widely available to mobile users in Japan and Europe since 2005. Verizon Wireless became the first operator in the USA to adopt the technology in October 2006. More than 450 million mobile devices powered by Flash Lite have been shipped as of February 2008, according to the Adobe Systems website.

Other recent developments:

In March 2008, Microsoft licensed Adobe Flash Lite software to enable web browsing of Flash Player compatible content within the Internet Explorer Mobile browser in future versions of Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphones.

In April 2008, Sony Ericsson announced its new Project Capuchin technology – bridging the Java ME and Adobe Flash Lite programming environments. Project Capuchin’s application programming interface (API) makes it possible to use Flash Lite as the front end and Java ME as the back end of applications, meaning that Flash tools can be used for user interface design while still having access to all the phone services available to Java ME.

In October 2008, LG Electronics turned to Adobe Flash Lite and Adobe Flash CS3 Professional software to power it’s first complete advanced touch interface to a mobile phone, called PRADA – a competitor to Apple iPhone. “Adobe Flash Lite was the best solution for the team to achieve its goals on the project: to generate user attention with dynamic effects, programmed animations, smooth transitions, and speedy performance on a full three-inch display,” according to developer Hosang Cheon, chief research engineer at LG.

The Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium products provided a seamless environment for developers to create the Adobe Flash Lite platform for the PRADA, Cheon said. For example, Adobe Photoshop CS3 was used for graphics, layout, and Graphical User Interface design, and Adobe Illustrator CS3 for vector images.

Compact file sizes, fast debugging, and the overall flexibility of working in ActionScript were other advantages of Flash Lite noted by developers.

However, there are issues with the technology. Flash Lite user interfaces are attractive and can be designed to be highly engaging, but performance on certain devices is less than good. Complaints range from battery drain and slowness to annoying Flash advertising. Poorly designed Flash interfaces are just as unpleasant on a small screen as they are on a desktop computer.

Penetration of Flash Lite is also not as great in the United States. Adobe has not been able to convince Apple to include a version of Flash Lite for the iPhone. So although iPhone users can browse the web, the iPhone will not render any Flash content.

Flash Lite’s future will be brighter if iPhone adopts some version of the technology and if it will continue to pair up with other existing mobile platform technologies, such as Java ME. On its own, Flash Lite doesn’t’t seem as robust as iPhone or Android.

Flash Lite does run on numerous other platforms, including Windows Mobile, Symbian S60, and Qualcomm BREW, in addition to embedded operating systems on a variety of original equipment manufacturer platforms.

Here is a tally of Flash Lite enabled devices and their major markets:

– Nokia (Global) = 94 devices
– Sony Ericsson (Global) = 75 devices
– Verizon Wireless (US) = 19 devices
– NTT DoCoMo (Japan) = 150 devices
– KDDI (Japan) = 111 devices
– Softbank (Japan) = 60 devices

SOURCES

Adobe Flash Lite 3 official site. http://www.adobe.com/products/flashlite/

Wikipedia entry: Adobe Flash Lite. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Flash_Lite  

Evans, Jonny. “Adobe Improves Flash for Cell Phones” Macworld: February 12, 2008. Retrieved on 10/24/2008 from http://www.pcworld.com/article/142361/adobe_improves_flash_for_cell_phones.html

Chartier, David. “Adobe begs Apple to allow Flash on iPhone, again.” Ars Technica – Infinite Loop:  September 30, 2008. Retrieved on 10/24/2008 from http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2008/09/30/adobe-begs-apple-to-allow-flash-on-iphone-again

Krazit, Tom. “Intel blasts iPhone; Apple honeymoon over.” Cnet News: October 22, 2008. Retrieved on 10/24/2008 from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10072779-37.html

Seibold, Chris. “Flash On the iPhone.” iPhone Matters blog: October 1, 2008. Retrieved on 10/24/2008 from http://www.iphonematters.com/article/flash_on_the_iphone_534/


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