Flash Lite Moves to BREW

By Peggy Albright Last June at the BREW 2006 conference, Qualcomm and Adobe Systems announced they were developing a beta program to bring Adobe’s multimedia Flash player technology to BREW handsets. The partners fairly quickly enabled the two technologies to work together and by late October, applications based on Flash Lite--the rendering technology that makes it easy to write graphically imaginative and interactive Flash content to run on mobile phones—were commercially available from Verizon Wireless. This development established Verizon as the first U.S. operator to offer Flash Lite content on mobile phones and the first operator worldwide to offer Flash applications in BREW. The operator sells the applications to its customers via its BREW-enabled Get It Now download service. Adobe/Qualcomm collaboration The use of Flash Lite to create content for mobile phones is still a relatively early innovation for cellular phones, but its incorporation into BREW parallels a growing interest in Flash in the worldwide wireless industry. The platform is known for being easy to work with and particularly well-suited for applications targeted to high-volume, mass market phones. For both developers and operators, that is a good formula for driving revenues. Adobe and Qualcomm both describe the result of their collaboration, referred to as Flash Lite for BREW, as a new market-enabling technology for their respective organizations and developer communities. For Adobe, Flash Lite for BREW makes it convenient for Flash developers worldwide to sell their applications to the BREW market. “The big plus is the consistent ecosystem for delivering content,” says Anup Murarka, director for technical marketing for mobile devices at Adobe. “Nothing like it exists in the world in as mature a form.” For Qualcomm, the partnership has helped position BREW as an “open, expandable platform and solution,” says Martin Kropat, product manager at Qualcomm Internet Services. “I think that was one of the things that we took away from this partnership,” he says. “We are able to bring two developer communities together to ensure that carriers benefit from an increased access to content and applications.” Adobe claims to have more than 2 million developers worldwide and more than 300,000 registered in its mobile communications program, which includes those who work in Flash Lite. Distribution is key Two distribution models for Flash Lite for BREW have been established. In one, called the “direct” model, a developer must be authenticated to work with BREW, write their applications completely in Flash, submit their products to the National Software Testing Labs (NSTL) for certification and develop their relationships with operators directly. The approach is open to all Flash and BREW developers. A second, “indirect” approach allows developers to license their Flash content to an aggregator for qualification, testing and distribution. Developers following this approach do not need to become authenticated to work with BREW nor do they have to bother with NSTL testing, a convenience intended to lessen the time and cost to commercialize simple content that might have a very short shelf life, such as screen savers and casual games. Murarka said he considers this arrangement one of the key outcomes of Adobe’s partnership with Qualcomm and Verizon. Three aggregators are currently authenticated to play this role: Shockwave.com/Atom Entertainment; FunMobility; and Smashing Content, the mobile division of Smashing Ideas. Initially, Verizon offered Flash Lite for BREW on four handsets but it added nine more since the October launch. Verizon’s expanding selection of handsets and Adobe’s support of Flash Lite for BREW reflect a significant uptake in developers working in the new medium, Kropat says. “Developers look for these signs as a gauge whether to move in this direction or not,” he says. Shockwave.com, which was the first company to offer content for Verizon via Flash Lite for BREW, says it has recorded more than a million downloads of its miniature mobile phone games, called Shockwave Minis, to Verizon customers. The application is basically a game service that allows consumers to access dozens of Flash-based games via a BREW-based menu and game catalog. Roy Seghal, vice president for strategy and new businesses at Shockwave and AddictingGames, a MTV Networks company, says his company’s work in Flash Lite for BREW was its first experience in the BREW community. He says that combination of the BREW and Flash technologies allowed Shockwave, a major casual game brand, to enter the market in a cost effective way and with a new business model that did not exist before. “We are looking to take more of our existing properties and casual game brands and bring them to market,” Seghal says. Kropat will be speaking on Flash Lite during the “Flash Lite on BREW: Business Insights” session on Thursday at 2:45 p.m. Verizon Wireless Handsets that Support Adobe Flash Lite for BREW LG VX8100 LG VX8300 LG VX8500 LG VX8600 LG VX9800 LG VX9900 Motorola RAZR V3c Motorola RAZR V3m Motorola KRZR K1m Samsung SCH-A930 Samsung SCH-A950 Samsung SCH-A970 Samsung SCH-A990