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Macromedia to Infuse Casio with Flash Player

Next to a whole lot of developers trotting out new findings, creations or developments, attendees of MacWorld can be certain of one thing in particular: intense rivalry among software powerhouses Microsoft Corp. Adobe Systems Inc. and Macromedia Inc.

This was in no small supply as MacWorld San Francisco and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off Monday, and on this day Macromedia teamed with Casio Computer Co. Ltd. to tell the world that its renowned Flash Player will be available some time in January for Casio's Pocket PC and Windows CE based PDAs, including the BE-300 Pocket Manager and the new E-200 running the Pocket PC 2002 OS. Flash Player for Casio PDAs will be available for download as part of the myCasio.com service.

"Casio and Macromedia are both committed to ensuring device users have the best possible online experience, and Macromedia Flash is a crucial technology to make that happen," said Mark McCabe, head of creative development, Casio U.S. Research and Development Center. "Our myCasio.com service will give users the Macromedia Flash Player to install, as well as access to quality content, including games, entertainment and applications, to immediately see the possibilities the technology offers."

McCabe's statement about what Casio plans to offer users is something of an echo across an industry where device makers are scrambling to implement quality software products into their own gadgets, especially personal digital assistants (PDAs).

While the PDA market suffered through a tough year, research firms such as The Strategis Group recently predicted more than 483 million units will be sold to end-users globally, and that one third of the world's population will own a wireless device by 2008.

Naturally, as handhelds become ubiquitous, the desire for cutting edge software -- to power high-quality games and other entertainment -- will grow. Furthermore, users will seek to migrate from their current devices to more next-generation-style products. According to Strategis, the market for replacement rates is projected to reach 36% in 2002.

"We're projecting that handset replacement rates will rebound dramatically in 2002, fueled by end-users who are increasingly ready to migrate to next-generation devices," said Ozgur Aytar, a wireless market analyst with The Strategis Group. "Next-generation services, such as multimedia messaging (MMS), will drive this consumer demand at least into 2003. MMS will be the next-generation 'chat-room' that will help fuel demand for advanced handsets."

To be sure, rivals Microsoft, and particularly Adobe, are following the crafting-software-for-the-PDA trend suit. While Microsoft announced at CES that Panasonic has opted to put Windows Media technology into its DVD and CD players, Adobe moved forward Monday with its own wireless software offerings -- GoLive Web authoring and LiveMotion animation software, which will compete with Dreamweaver and Flash Player.

In related news, Macromedia offered its new ColdFusion Server 5 Developer Edition as a free product enable customers to develop applications for the popular Web application server. Emphasizing ease of use, as always, the new Macromedia's ColdFusion Server features an integrated charting engine, advanced full text searching, and new language features, as well as a boost in performance as much as 3 times faster than version 4.5.