Mobile World Congress 2010: Roundup

I arrived back from this years Mobile World Congress far more exhausting than normal, hence the complete lack of blogging during the event; apologies for that.  So here I will aim to roundup the various announcements and hopefully add to the huge amount of blogging and articles written during the event.

In general this years event had a more positive mood with attendees and exhibitors all looking to the future of mobile and devices.  New this year was the inclusion of Tablet and Netbook devices in the show many of which use the same hardware as high end smartphones.  Our goal is to enable the Flash Platform to extend to these devices too, and so it should be no surprise that we had many partners previewing Flash experiences on their hardware, more on that later.

Open Screen Project Update – “Connecting Developers with Consumers”

At the conference we announced that we now have some 70 partners, with new additions like Burda Group, RTL, Stern, Addicting Games and EPIX on the content partner side.  New technology partners include Freescale, MIPS, Vizio, Symbian, Imagination Technologies and Sonic.  In terms of scale we have created one of the largest initiatives in the mobile ecosystem to build a foundation for the distribution of the Flash Platform across devices.  Of course for the community much of this will appear like marketing, but rest assured that there are many hundreds of engineers working globally to bring Flash to a huge array of platforms.

As we begin to wrap up the Flash Player integration efforts our focus has widened to include enablement for web content.  In total we’re working with over 140 content provider partners, owners of the largest and most popular sites that use Flash today.  At MWC 2010 we showed applications and websites optimized for mobile viewing from the following:

Animation – Angry Alien Productions

Branded – AOL Mobile, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, Sony Pictures, TBS, TNT, Warner Brothers

Gaming – Addicting Games, Armor Games, Kongregate, Miniclip.com, Nick.com, South Park Studios

News – BBC News, The New York Times Reader App, The Wall Street Journal Online

Video – AlloCiné, Amazon.com, AOL Moviefone, Canoe, Dailymotion, Disney, Epix, GMX, IGN, Kid Rock (Atlantic Records), Lavanguardia, National Geographic, Mobile YouTube, Studio1290 Mobile, STV Player Mobile, Ustream, Vimeo, Yahoo! Movies

As you can see the list is HUGE and this represents a small part of the overall efforts to bring the full web to devices using Flash Player.  For the Open Screen Project to be truly successful we need our content providers and developers to play their part, as you can see, this effort is very much underway.

Of particular note we also joined the LiMo Foundation to deliver the Flash Platform on their Linux based devices.  It’s an exciting announcement because it demonstrates that the Open Screen Project and other industry initiatives are aligned with a goal to the delivery of consistent and open platforms for developers and consumers.

Flash Player 10.1

On our stand at the Mobile World Congress we showed a beta version of Flash Player running on the Motorola Droid, Palm Pre and the Google Nexus One.  The applications above were running incredibly well and attendees were very impressed with the performance and fluidity of the experience, Flash was built for the web and on devices it just makes sense.  The most important addition to the mobile experience was the ability to playback Flash content in full screen mode, enabled by these powerful webkit browsers.

Of course the fun part for attendees was in visiting their own sites to understand the sheer power of the new player.  In all, the thousands of attendees that visited our stand were extremely excited about being able to browse more of the web on their devices.  For many the call to action was “How can I get started?”, well Thibaut has been crafting a great set of resources with our engineering teams here.  The first step however is to create a plan of action, begin to plan a suitable user experience for mobile devices; and in particular those based on touch.

With Flash Player 10.1 we have worked to enable the same web content to run using less memory, yet with higher performance.  The results are really incredible and should see a significant improvement, not only for the mobile devices but also for desktop computers and application running on Adobe AIR 2.0.  Remember, we can only do so much and as a Flash Developer you have a role to play in ensuring that your content works well on these new devices.

For fun, my colleague Michael Chaize has created his own tour of the web on the Nexus One, he even pushes out all the stops by visiting a site based on Papervision!

In terms of availability we have required some significant patches to Android and to the Web OS to support the installation of the Flash Player over-the-air.  We expect these new updates to become available soon to end users, at which time the Flash Player will become available either via their respective Application Stores, within the software updates or both.  In either case the installation of the Flash Player will be seamless and ongoing we expect to see significant traction as we move forward.

Adobe AIR on devices

One of the big pieces of news at Mobile World Congress was the announcement of Adobe AIR on Android, and the tie-in with our Adobe Packager for the iPhone.  At MAX 2009 we demonstrated the creation of iPhone applications using the upcoming Flash Professional CS5, and the twist is that these applications are based on AIR 2.0.  To demonstrate the possibilities we showed some of the same applications created in Flash Professional CS5 that are available on the AppStore today, running on Android devices using Adobe AIR.  The workflow couldn’t be simpler, it’s simply a repackaging effort with a little UX tweaking for basic layout and hardware capabilities.

Here is a nice video from Kevin Hoyt showing off Adobe AIR for Android:

Write One Run Everywhere? – In many ways the answer is yes, given a few measured choices.  We have made it fantastically simple to reach across devices and platforms with Flash and AIR, and so the same code can now run on a huge array of phones, desktop computers and consumer electronics.  Using the same assets and principle it will be extremely simple to tweak applications for varying screen sizes, input methods and user experiences.

So now our “marketecture” diagram for Applications looks like this (2010 is on the right):

Note that I’ve called out iPhone OS separately, this is because you will be required to use Actionscript 3 to target the iPhone. Once you package an application it will not be possible to process additional SWF files containing actionscript, such as those stored on the web, due to Apple’s restrictions around interpreted code.

Android, by comparison, is totally open and AIR runs beautifully on the platform; and dare I say a little faster on the Moto Droid, a device with iPhone 3Gs hardware.

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