RealTime IT News

Sony Handhelds Evolve With Macromedia Flash

Broadening the capabilities of handhelds, Sony this morning said its new CLIE NX-series devices are the first to feature Macromedia's Flash Player on a Palm operating system. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The products come with an interactive CLIE Demo application created with Macromedia Flash to highlight its new capabilities. But the real value of the enabling technology will come as rich media software, crafted with Macromedia's Flash MX template, begins to hit the market.

Peter Meechan, a Macromedia vice president, told internetnews.com he expects to see "games, animations, and personalized services that utilize the capability of the wireless network functionality in the device such as news, sports, weather, finance and other information and media services."

Macromedia is focusing on the entire category of portable devices from handhelds, to phones and the hybrid device called a communicator, such as the Nokia 9200 series, Meechan said.

The CLIE PEG-NX70V and PEG-NX60 models are the latest handhelds from the Tokyo electronics giant. They are powered by a 200MHz ARM-compliant processor and run on the new Palm OS 5 operating system.

Unveiled early last month, the CLIEs enable users to snap photos and record up to an hour of video of video clips on a removeable Memory Stick; record voice memos; and wirelessly browse the Internet on a Wi-Fi (802.11b) network with an optional Sony wireless LAN card.

In addition, the NX70V and NX60, which sell for $599 and $499 respectively, play MP3 audio files and video games.

"Sony looks forward to working closely with Macromedia and its more than 1.6 million creative Macromedia Flash designers and developers to revolutionize the handheld experience," said Toshinori Nakamura, general manager of the handheld arm of Sony

Sony and other handheld makers are working to enhance the functionality of the devices in hopes of spurring sales. The overall handheld market declined 9.3 percent last quarter compared to the previous year, according to IDC.

The Boston-based IT researcher pegs the decline on general economic weakness and a reluctance of enterprises to make product upgrades, predicting the market will remain flat the rest of 2002.

Sony competitor Palm has sought to buck the downward trend of enterprise spending by expanding the consumer handheld market, which still dominates handheld sales, with new entry-level offerings like the $99 Zire. The company is banking on its re-branded Tungsten line to spark enterprise sales.