Monday, November 06, 2006

Telcos and Cellcos continue to lag ...

While down at the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas, I saw some very nice demos of Flash Lite v2.1 ... a version of Flash for mobile devices and cell phones. It was interesting to see that both Verizon and Qualcomm were on hand to talk about the immediate availability for developers. As I just bought my new Nokia E70 phone (which I'm slowly getting used to!) I thought this would be great! I'm doing some Flash development ... and now I can write apps for my phone with it!

Well ... then reality set in. I went to the Adobe Flash Lite booth, where I was told that my phone ships with Flash Lite v1.1 ... an archaic version with severe limitations. Ok ... so when can I get the upgrade? Well, go ask the Nokia folks. It was nice that Nokia had a booth at the show ... I simply strolled across the room to ask! When I got to the booth, one of the Nokia reps even had a E70 in his hand! Woohoo!

As we discussed the wonders of Flash Lite v2.1, I finally asked "When will I get my update?" Long silent pause. "Well, at this time I don't know if we'll support Flash Lite v2.1 on our 3rd Edition Phones." was the answer. Uh ... I just bought this thing ... I asked "What is a 3rd Edition Phone?" The response was something like "Everything on the market is 3rd Edition or less. The 4th Edition Phones are already being developed." So the bottom line that I learned is that Nokia probably will never support Flash Lite v2.1 on any phone in the market. Yes ... there is a possibility asa a developer you can get your hands on a version that will work on your phone ... but the end-user community will not get it. What the heck are they thinking? The answer seemed to be that they did not want to go back and test and recertify the phones in the market. Bummer. Strike One for the Telcos and Cellcos.

The next step was to ask Adobe for the latest development tool that would allow me to create Flash Lite v1.1 applications! The answer was Flash Professional 8 ... a $700 tool. On top of this, the development paradigm used by this tool was completely foreign to me ... although I had been warned about the "timeline" model. When I got the developer demo, I quickly realized that this was not going to work for me. Bummer. Strike Two for the Telcos and Cellcos.

Before giving up completely, I then began to explore a conversation about some possible applications that I had thought of. Things got even worse. I really wanted to have some applications do some cool things with the camera, and SMS services. It turns out that the Telcos and Cellcos have prevented the Flash Lite applications from directly working with the Camera or SMS capabilities of the phones. So I can't have my application take photos, or send photos, or send/receive SMS text messages. Bummer. Strike Three for the Telcos and Cellcos.

It was amazing to me that after years of waiting for the cell phone to catch up and be a real player in the Internet age, it's still handcuffed and locked up by the Telcos and Cellcos. Yes ... I know that you can still do *some* things with these devices ... but they are far from being free, and a truly open and mobile platform for applications.


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