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Macromedia Shines Mobile 'Flash Lite'

Macromedia hopes a mini version of its Flash Player will help give it more play outside the desktop.

The software maker released Macromedia Flash Lite 1.1 for mobile handset manufactures. The updated profile of the company's Flash Player targets mass-market mobile phones that do not have enough processing power.

Developers will get access to the Flash Lite 1.1 through a content development kit (CDK). The download covers tips, techniques and sample code for developing Flash content on mobile phones using Macromedia Flash MX Professional 2004.

Juha Christensen, Macromedia president of mobile and devices, said Macromedia is counting on its more than one million strong community of Flash developers and designers to help animate the space.

"We're looking to evolve the phone as it exists today with improvements to the presentation layer," Christensen told internetnews.com.

Christensen said Macromedia is just forming an evangelist group to spread the word and has already received a good response after the company's recent developers conference in Japan.

"One of the things we've been recommending to developers is to think in terms of the form factor," Christensen said. "You are not going to find a mouse or a full keyboard on a mobile phone."

Christensen said one of the benefits of Flash is that the code size is a mere 314 Kb and needs at least 1MB ROM, 50 MIPS and 2MB RAM to operate.

The player has support for the W3C standard SVG Tiny (SVG-T) and new scripting commands that let developers build functions, such as sending multimedia messages, dialing and checking the network status and battery level. The update also adds improved audio support for MP3, PCM , ADPCM and SMAF (Synthetic music Mobile Application Format) audio formats.

Macromedia said adding SVG-T support was a direct request from its European customers and is part of the 3GPP standard. However, Macromedia has not announced support for SVG-T in either version of the authoring tool, Flash MX or Flash MX Professional.

"As Macromedia continues to build products that address customer requests and feedback, we welcome additional feedback from our present and new customers. To date, the Mobile and Devices team has received minimal interest in authoring for SVG-T," the company said in a statement.

The update announced Monday is the first since Flash Player Lite debuted on NTT DoCoMo 505i handsets last year. Since the release of the first two DoCoMo cell phone models, the 505i series has enjoyed brisk sales. DoCoMo said it has sold 100,000 units of the D505i (Mitsubishi) and 40,000 units of the SO505i (Sony) so far. The company said four more handset models are on tap to ship over the coming two months.

Already, Macromedia has partners lined up to install Flash Lite 1.1 in their handsets. In addition to NTT DoCoMo, Bellwave, Sony Ericsson, Symbian, Texas Instruments and T-Mobile are all early adopters. Macromedia said Sony CLIE handhelds already ship with Flash Player, and it is working with other Palm OS licensees to broaden the distribution of Flash Player on additional devices.

The company said Flash Lite 1.1 will be licensed in different configurations to address the needs of specific market segments, such as handset manufacturers and operators.