Last week saw Adobe announcing the Open Screen Project. Part of the project will have Flash loosening up restrictions on the use of .SWF and .FLV/F4V specifications, and removing licensing fees among other things. The goal of the Open Screen Project is to provide “consistent platform for development across PCs, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and other platforms” but the question that is bubbling on my mind is, can Flash be a viable mobile development platform for Mobile Devices? Or is it just too late for Adobe?
Since the porting of Flash to Mobile Devices, I have yet to see any meaningful use of the platform that truly enhances the functionality of mobile devices besides video players. In my eyes, this makes the platform useless. All these years Adobe failed to realize that the future of computing and connection is in our hands. Flash could have been a major player by now had it not been for Adobe’s incompetence. While Adobe has been loafing around, Sun has been making inroads to further strengthen the position and usability of JavaME on mobile phones. The work has paid off with a plethora of Java applications and games floating around the Internet almost everywhere you look these days.
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Many may stress that the reason why Flash has been so slow to take off on mobile is the fact that the overall capability of mobile devices has been slow to develop. I agree with that to a degree. You can’t fault slow mobile development in general. Adobe is part to blame. Sun has the same problems facing them with mobiles, yet Java has done well. What say you Adobe?
Now, on the matter on whether Flash for mobile is viable. It may take years before Flash is fully adopted as the platform they hope it could be. There’s a lot of work to do before it is even considered as the choice over the likes of JavaME and other offerings such as Google’s Android version of Java. Now things could be completely different however if Google becomes a Member of the Open Screen Project.
Linux/Open Source developers may still stay away from Flash as it is proprietary software. Even if Google adopts Flash or implements it into Android, it’s likely we will only see a small amount of applications being tied to Flash like web video players. It sounds trite, but time will tell.