Except on Mobile

We believe that continued developer and publisher support for Flash relies greatly on the seamless, free, invisible install experience of the Flash Player.

That's a quote from the Flash player faq - and Macromedia has done a lot to promote player ubiquity. But the news today serves to remind that this is a desktop strategy and doesn't apply to mobile. When it comes to mobile, part of the revenue stream comes directly or indirectly from the end user. That's going to be an increasing part as open-source tools and tools from other vendors are used more for creating Flash content.

Posted by Alexander at October 3, 2005 05:17 PM

Make Flash tests and assessments with the Question Writer, Quiz Software. Question Writer 4 is now available. Click here to download.


And manufacturers too. For the desktop/web, they only have to support about 3 OS's, 4 browsers, maintain 2 versions of the player (regular & debug), and ensure that their install mechinisms work (both web based install & auto-update).

Mobile, however, is frikin' chaos. Multitudes of hardware specs, no standards on the majority for both softare & hardware, and the player has to be "burned" into most of the phones to be even usable by a user since the majority won't go through the Flash Lite purchasing process. Anyone who thinks users will do that needs to be reminded they won't, and that's not Macromedia's plan for getting FlashLite content in front of users on their mobiles.

Macromedia has to maintain the true ubiquity of Flash in a more challenging field, has to convince manufacturers to burn their software onto their phones, AND has to negotiate with providers to put push-based servers & services in place to allow people who actually develop Flash Lite content to make any ROI to do so.

The fact they only charge 10 bucks for something I consider a developer novelty (or early adopter) is mind boggling... but I'm still appreciative!

Posted by: JesterXL at October 3, 2005 06:05 PM

I don't think Macromedia is trying to convince manufacturers to put the Flash player on their phones so much as they're trying to charge them to put it there - and that's an indirect charge to the user.

The strategy has been two-fold - for desktop use, charge the developers for the tools to make the content, for mobile use, charge the user (via manufacturer). The Pocket PC has been a kind of grey area.... is it just a really small PC? ... or is it a really powerful mobile device?

With this decision to remove the free Flash player download, it's clear that it falls under the remit of really powerful mobile device now.

I think if MM were to take this to the logical conclusion, if they start to make a sizeable amount from selling the Flash player to mobile users/manufacturers ... they'll want to encourage the creation of Flash content and may even go so far as to make content creation tools (Flash 4 and eventually Flash MX 2004) freely available.

Posted by: Alexander McCabe at October 3, 2005 06:46 PM

For what it's worth, the consumer installation process differs between computers and mobiles... there are certain computer installations which have become routine (ActiveX Controls and, to a lesser degree, Netscape Plugins), but fewer consumers routinely install executable code onto their mobiles. That's why the focus is on getting the Player integrated into the device itself, so it's part of the assured capability of the device.

For what it's worth, I don't yet have additional background on the PocketPC change beyond what's in that FAQ (I'd expect "why?" to be a common question ;-) but I'll try to learn more about this change today.


Posted by: John Dowdell at October 3, 2005 07:07 PM

Thanks JD, a 'Why?' would certainly add a lot of value to that document.

Posted by: Alexander McCabe at October 3, 2005 07:36 PM

I've gotten a little bit so far, but not a lot of detail... essentially there are *multiple* licensees who have entered into agreements, and balancing their different needs is one of the factors here. Vague, I know, but that's the background I'm picking up, and I'll try to get more today....

Posted by: John Dowdell at October 3, 2005 08:28 PM

Status report... the team is agreed that we need to get better info up on this... in process now... I'm not yet sure of content or delivery time, but it's in progress, if that early info is of use....


Posted by: John Dowdell at October 4, 2005 08:37 PM

Update: Bill Perry has a group-approved message here:

There's also a feedback link at the bottom of the document, if issues remain, clarifications needed. (I don't feel qualified to extemporize further on the story myself.)



Posted by: John Dowdell at October 7, 2005 08:51 PM

That's more info - thanks. There's a link there for more info, but for the public record, it would good to know what percentage of Pocket PC devices it affects. Are HP/Toshiba the bulk of the market here? I couldn't find out with a short web search.

Posted by: Alexander McCabe at October 9, 2005 09:12 PM

Update: We've figured out a middle path -- those uncertified PocketPC systems can still do a free download of the 2003 Player, but we won't be able to provide any support for such systems. Bill Perry has more details here:

I'm sorry for the hassle last week, but does this now seem like a better situation to you...?

(Alexander, I don't have info myself on the shipping stats of various manufacturers' PocketPC devices, sorry.)


Posted by: John Dowdell at October 12, 2005 08:54 PM

It's certainly good to see the Flash 6 player back again - I think it's generally a good thing that Flash players don't disappear. It gives developers the confidence that if they develop for a particular platform today, the player will be available free of cost in perpetuity.

The re-alignment of the Pocket PC with the mobile strategy is a disappointment for future versions, but it doesn't feel unreasonable.

Posted by: Alexander McCabe at October 12, 2005 09:46 PM