Adobe Hopes To Make Flash Master Of The (Mobile) Universe

Dennis Faas's picture

Adobe, Inc. is dropping most restrictions on the use of its Flash technology on mobile devices. The firm hopes the move will help boost the technology's appeal on cellphones, handheld PCs and set-top television boxes.

Flash, which allows developers to produce interactive content and animations that appear the same way on all computers, is already widely popular on the web: around 98% of desktop computers with an Internet connection have the software installed.

There's already a cut-down edition called Flash Lite for mobile devices, but licensing restrictions mean the full-scale Flash software is nowhere near as popular on the mobile Internet as for the traditional computer-based web.

Adobe has announced a four-step plan titled Open Screen which will mean:

  • an end to licence fees for including Flash software when selling new devices;
  • getting rid of restrictions on how people use the files created with Flash software;
  • revealing the previously-secretive details of how the Flash player works; and
  • giving out more information about how to create streaming Flash content (which allows viewers to watch an animation or short movie online without having to wait for it to download).

The idea is to make it easier for developers to produce games, movies and general software -- all based on Flash -- which will work the same way on all mobile devices. It's part of a wider scheme, Adobe Air, aimed at bridging the gap between desktop computing and the mobile web. (Source:

Adobe spokesman David Wadwhani pointed out that there are five times as many mobile devices connected to the Internet as there are traditional computers.

Many big-name technology firms are working with Adobe on the project, including cellphone network carriers, broadcasters and cable firms. However, Sun (which produces the rival Java system) and Microsoft (which is developing similar software named Silverlight) won't be involved. (Source:

You might be wondering what Adobe gets out of giving up licensing revenue and giving away coding secrets. They'll be hoping Flash becomes established as the standard way to produce content such as videos for mobile devices. At that stage they'd likely see a big increase in sales of their official software for designing Flash-based applications.

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