Ludicrous Software

The Future of Flash Lite

The transcript of the Adobe Q4 earnings call is available at Seeking Alpha. In case you don’t want to read the entire thing, two mobile-related highlights:

  1. Revenue from mobile was up in Q4, due to demand for Flash Lite and renewal of several agreements with major OEMs.“ In other words, revenue from pre-installs of Flash Lite on devices. But this will drop quite a bit in early 2009 because, “the move to the open screen project will ultimately make the royalty revenue that we have for mobile go away, and you are starting to see that in 2009 as we anticipated.” So we’ll start seeing fewer and fewer pre-installs of Flash on phones as we start seeing announcements of devices that support the Open Screen Project.

  2. For the next part, I’m just going to paste in all of the comments from Shantanu Narayen:

So smartphones continues to be a category that we are focused on. We have clearly streamlined our strategic intent to make sure that we have both web browsing as well as Air support on these smartphones. We actually already deliver Flash for smartphones, such as those powered by either the series 60 from Nokia, running the [Symbian] operating system and/or running Windows Mobile, as well as in Japan we certainly have a lot of support. So I would say that already today we have a lot of smartphone category phones that are supported with Flash. That’s why we’ve shipped over 800 million and we say we expect to reach our $1 billion mark sooner than anticipated. The other ones are ones that we are working on. At MAX recently, we also showed a prototype of Flash running on the Android operating system that’s powered by Google, and now we have also said that we are only going to focus on Flash 10 rather than Flash Lite, which is why it’s taking a little time. But we fully expect to see versions running for smartphones in the middle of next year.

(I’m pretty sure that $1 billion should just be 1 billion, as in, 1 billion devices shipped with Flash - no dollar sign, which I assume was inserted by the transcriber.)

(As an aside, I’m not sure it’s fair to include Japanese devices in the smartphone category, since they’re pretty locked-down. Going forward this may change, but at the moment they are no devices where you can upgrade the Flash Lite version if you want to.)

Flash 10 instead of Flash Lite is great for smartphones and other similar devices with the power to handle it, but I wonder how long it will be before devices in the feature phone category have similar capabilities. With a focus on Flash 10 for smartphones, there will probably continue to be a fair bit of fragmentation in the mobile Flash world until the feature phones catch up (if they ever do).