Advanced Flash Lite Coming to More Smartphones

Adobe has announced today at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, that it is working on a new version of its Flash Lite Distributable Player, which is designed to bring Adobe Flash 10 functionality to smartphones. The Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 Distributable Player is available now as a beta for 11 Windows Mobile and 11 Nokia S60 (Symbian OS) devices (the list of compatible phones can be found here).

According to Adobe, "Flash content reaches over 98% of Internet viewers with over 30M swf files online today. Moreover, 80%+ of web video is in Flash." Which means that any mobile device that doesn't support Flash is potentially missing out on a significant portion of the available content on the Internet. And while Adobe is proud to state that "over 800 million devices shipped with Flash," this number pales in comparison to the number of non-flash-enabled, mobile devices presently available. But even those mobile devices that do support Flash, are not able to access the full functionality of the desktop version of Flash 10. The new version of Flash Lite is meant to bridge this gap.

There actually isn't a huge difference between what Flash Lite 3.0 already does and what Flash Lite 3.1 delivers. The new version "provides new delivery and monetization options for Flash technology-based mobile applications." Additionally:

"Flash Lite 3.1 includes the same features as Flash Lite 3.0, such as support for Flash Player compatible video, with some additional enhancements including improved security model for SWF file access. The solution delivers a standalone player for applications, without affecting the Flash Lite browser plug-in or pre-installed standalone player, if present."

Windows Mobile and Symbian OS-based phones won't be the only smartphones that will be able to run the new version of Flash Lite. Palm also announced today (PDF) that it has joined the Open Screen Project, "a broad industry initiative dedicated to enabling standalone applications and full web browsing across televisions, desktops and mobile devices taking advantage of Adobe Flash Platform capabilities." In other words, Palm devices that use the new Palm webOS operating system, such as the new Palm Pre, will also be able to run the new version of Flash Lite.

The big question at the moment, however, is if Flash will ever be able to run on the iPhone. In an interview with Reuters, Adobe's platform business chief, David Wadhwani, claims that Adobe is still working with Apple, trying to make it happen; but in the mean time, Wadhwani stated, "Unfortunately, I don't have any new information to provide."

So as the advanced, interactive functionality of Web 2.0 technologies that we take for granted on our desktops and laptops, make their march toward more smartphone models, the fate of Flash on the iPhone is still undecided. As to when the new version of Flash Lite will be officially released, conflicting reports state either late 2009 or early 2010.