Today was a big news day for mobile content developers—at least in the eyes of Adobe, whom, to coincide with their participation in the GSMA Mobile World Congress, released a number of press releases detailing—among the finer technical points—the incredibly large sum of money they are throwing at securing Flash as the de facto platform for multimedia on mobile devices.
A summary of their announcements is as follows:
Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 Distributable Player
Available immediately to developers via Adobe Labs, the Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 Distributable Player, if I interpret it correctly, sounds like a mobile version of Adobe AIR. Using something called the Adobe Mobile Packager, a SWF application can be bundled with a player version checker, an icon, and metadata to provide an installable file that can be distributed to mobile devices with Flash Lite support. Because of the player version checker, developers can target the latest version of the player without worrying about their end-users not being able to view the content. Should they have an earlier version of the player, the version checker can download the latest version without leaving their application. This eliminates the step of requiring a user to navigate to Adobe’s site to download the latest version of the Flash Lite Player, and then returning to the application they were originally attempting to view. With an update, content targeting the latest Flash Lite player can be created with Adobe Flash CS3/CS4 Professional, and Adobe Device Central CS3/CS4.
Flash Lite Developer Challenge
To spur on Flash Lite development, Adobe has launched a competition called the Flash Lite Developer Challenge. The competition is offering a combined total of $100,000 in cash prizes for the best applications developed in the following areas: Game, Lifestyle, Infotainment, Sports, Social Networking, and Most Innovative Application. This reminds me of the ongoing Ribbit Killer App Challenge.
$10 million Open Screen Project fund
The Open Screen Project, an initiative aiming to enable a consistent experience for web browsing and standalone applications is barely a year old, but now thanks to the collaborative effort of Adobe and Nokia, the project has a US$10 million fund available to support developers in creating applications and services for mobile, desktop and consumer electronics devices using the Adobe Flash Platform. An Adobe press release provided the following details:
Projects submitted for development will be reviewed by a group of multi-screen application and services experts from Open Screen Project partners including Adobe and Nokia. Focus areas include: entertainment; social networking; productivity; gaming; news and information. Developers retain all rights to their applications while Adobe and Nokia have the right to evaluate, test and promote the content. For more information and details on how to apply, visit www.openscreenproject.org.
Full-fledged Flash Player 10 coming to Smartphones
While the elusive iPhone is still not in this mix, a full-fledged version of the Adobe Flash Player 10 (the full version of the player that runs on desktop PCs) is coming soon to a whole group of smartphones. It will be available on smartphones running Windows Mobile, Google’s Android, Nokia S60/Symbian, and the new Palm operating systems. Devices using Flash Player 10 are expected to hit the marketplace in 2010. This is great news for developers, as it provides continuity between developing for the desktop player and a mobile device.
Adobe Reader Mobile 9 SDK
Adobe announced the Adobe Reader Mobile 9 software development kit (SDK), a proprietary SDK for allowing third-party mobile developers to implement PDF and eBook (utilizing the EPUB format, an XML-based format for eBooks) viewing functionality on their devices. At the moment, the SDK is available to “OEMs, ISV integrators, and mobile applications developers on a case-by-case basis,” so the impact will likely been seen in existing big-name devices. For example, the Sony’s Reader Digital Book already utilizes the Adobe PDF engine.