Verizon unveils Flash Lite for mobiles

Verizon Wireless became the first major US operator to embrace Flash Lite for mobile games and content.

Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash made its first splash on mobile phones in the U.S. on Wednesday as Verizon Wireless Inc. introduced it on four handsets and announced games and applications that use it.

Widely used for Web animation worldwide and for mobile content outside North America, Flash has been built into a few phones available in the U.S. but hasn't been embraced by a major operator as a tool for third-party development. On Wednesday, Verizon launched phones and software using a version called Adobe Flash Lite and said it would continue to expand its offerings.

The U.S. has lagged behind other parts of the world in embracing mobile multimedia, though some types of content have recently become popular.

Mobile content providers using Flash Lite will be able to take advantage of a global developer community of more than 2 million and bypass much of the testing that has been required with other tools, according to Anup Murarka, director of technical marketing for the mobile and devices business unit at Adobe. For a given mobile operator, a Flash Lite application doesn't have to be re-tested for all the different handset models the carrier sells, he said.

The new software is available now on four phones from Verizon: Motorola Inc.'s Razr V3c and V3m, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s SCH-a950 and LG Electronics Inc.'s VX9800, which Verizon calls The V. It should be available on more handsets in the coming weeks, according to Verizon.

The Verizon deal specifically will let developers of Brew applications take advantage of the Flash Lite runtime on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) phones, but other operators, such as GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) carrier Cingular Wireless LLC, could also embrace it, Murarka said.

Five sets of mobile content offerings from Verizon take advantage of the software today. Games include "Jungle Jim" and "Extreme Hangman" from SkyZone Entertainment Inc., as well as a set of games from Indiagames Ltd. that are based on the NBC television comedy series "The Office." A downloadable application from The Weather Channel can provide forecasts, alerts and maps with motion. MovieGoer offers movie show times, posters and other content.

Verizon is also offering Flash Lite-based Shockwave Minis, a series of mini-games from Shockwave.com, part of Web content provider Atom Entertainment. Users can buy a monthly subscription to Shockwave Minis Unlimited or buy packs of credits and redeem them in the Shockwave Minis Arcade.

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