Macromedia Flash on Mobile Phones Vs. Java Everywhere


The first question I thought of today when I saw (everywhere) that DoCoMo is going to put Flash into its i-Mode phones was "what's going to happen to Java?"

The fact is that a large majority of the mobile applications that are being done today in Java would probably be a lot better using Flash. You don't use many applets any more do you? Why not? Because Flash provides more multimedia and interactive functionality in a smaller, faster, more reliable download. It's a simple as that. And the player is on just about every desktop (except mine).

Right now that honor goes to Java when you're talking about mobile phones... Just about every new phone has Java installed to enable interactive applications and - more importantly - games. The only exception that I've seen is the T300 which has the proprietary Mophun games. Sun really lead a serious coup on this one, if you think about it. Why Macromedia didn't push Flash for mobiles years ago, I have no idea. Or maybe they did and there was some technical issue... I don't know.

Anyways, I don't know the level of functionality the phones will have, but Flash MX on the desktop is a virtual programming environment in and of itself even supporting new techs like SOAP. With that type of capability and small downloads, it won't be long before you start seeing more Flash enabled phones.

But as it is now, everyone's talking about Java. I'm still bent out of shape due to the inadequacies of J2ME, but everyone seems to think it's the greatest thing ever. I mean, yes, it's nice that Mom won't get a mobile virus on her phone, but damnit it would be nice to do some serious programming using my favorite programming language. Despite its flaws, the P800 may be calling me away from Series 60 for this fact alone.

Check out this article talking about Java as the mobile platform to target:

... "The center of gravity for software developers who want to reach users of handheld devices has shifted," says Michael Gold, senior engineer in the Digital Futures Program at SRIC-BI. "In the past, software developers were asking, 'should we target Microsoft, Palm, or Symbian?' Now they are increasingly focusing on Java rather than the other three platforms. With 50 million Java handsets now in circulation worldwide, 2002 Java handset shipments exceeded PDA shipments of the past several years. By end 2003, the size of the market that one can address with Java will still be larger than that of all PDAs and smartphones (such as Nokia Communicator and the Ericsson or Samsung equivalents) together -- even if PDAs and smartphones grow by 100% in units this year (probably an unrealistically high assumption). Java has definitely surpassed the PDA operating systems as he platform to target for the largest mobile audience."

I think this report - even if it is extolling the virtues of Java - is a bit naive since not all Java tech is the same. At the bare minimum, it's premature. Will Macromedia come and wipe midlets off our mobiles as it wiped applets off our browsers? As much as I think Java rocks, I think midlets suck, so I'd say there's a serious chance of it happening.


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