Thursday, March 02, 2006

Flash Lite and Sony Ericsson

So recently over the last few weeks Sony Ericsson have announced a whole new range of phones. Some really nice ones too with some relatively unique designs. In the past I have been pretty keen to state how great it is to see Sony Ericsson phones with Flash Lite embedded. You would think that one of the most stylish mobile phone manufacturers combined with Flash Lite would be an awesome setup for some really cool content to be created. Well - to be blatant its the complete opposite.

Sony Ericsson have had some issues with the performance of the Flash Lite player on their handsets - this is true. But this is not the reason nobody creates Flash Lite content for Sony Ericsson phones. Heres a few reasons why Flash Lite is failing with SE:

First up there is no communication between Flash Lite developers and SE. Sure there is a lot of protection of information in the mobile OEM sphere but there are plenty of developers out that who have a really good understanding of how Flash Lite can be used to great effect within the SE setup.

Secondly there is no technical documentation on Flash Lite or ANY developer information. This gives absolutely no confidence that Flash Lite is actually a technology that is intended to be used.

Phone specification on the SE website is not always accurate. How do you begin to plan to target a phone if you know that well, it may say Flash Lite on the website but it wont have Flash Lite really.

Firmware upgrades have removed Flash Lite. I am only aware of this being happening with the W800 but the mere fact that it has happened once is enough to further fragment and destroy confidence.

There is no consistency in the actual implementation of Flash Lite. So from the W550 onwards Flash Lite is used for browser and UI only. The use of Wallpapers and Screensavers is disabled. Is this documented anywhere? Nope. Given the wide variety of Flash Lite developers out there fragmentation of functionality is not a big issue in itself but zero documentation is a massive issue.

I think I could probably go on and explain a few more areas that are key reasons why Flash Lite hasn't been taken advantage of on SE phones. But you get the picture :)

So what does the future hold for SE and Flash Lite. The website lists some 6 new 'coming soon' phones that have Flash Lite capabilities. I am not so sure that all those phones will actually have Flash Lite pre-installed. Especially all the UIQ phones. SE could make a real niche with Flash Lite and UIQ using the stand alone player.

More long term I think the Nokia implementation of Flash Lite will probably cause SE to rethink what they could really do with Flash Lite. I don't know why SE Flash Lite is where it is but I would guess that its because SE doesnt really understand how to address the massive pool of Flash Lite developers or how to classify Flash Lite. I don't think Nokia will make the same mistake and the newer licensees such as BenQ Siemens look like they will be taking full advantage of FL too.

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Sony Ericsson w800i joins the ranks

When this phone was first announced I was really disappointed to read the specs on the SE website and see that it didnt mention Flash Lite as a feature. It really is a nice phone and what better excuse to buy one than for development purposes.

The w800i is the first in the line of 'walkman' marketed mobile phones. I comes with a 512mb Memory Stick and has been hyped up over here in the UK like no other phone before it. Even to the extent that no one was allowed to sell it until today (12th August). It had its own psuedo launch party at 00 hrs today (or rather last night), accompanied by Jay Kay selling and signing some of the first Walkman™ phones sold at the Oxford Street Carphone Warehouse in London.

Well as fortune would have it, in this case at least, the SE specifications arent always that accurate. After a few investigations it turns out it does indeed have Flash Lite 1.1 installed. So loaded with a good excuse off I went to buy one.

It supports Flash Lite 1.1 as per most other SE devices in browser, screensaver and wallpaper modes. And unlike previous implementations by SE, with this version you can send a swf as a MMS message and receive and view in the message pane itself!

Having played around with it for a couple of hours I can see how this type of device can habour a really well defined market for Flash Lite developers. Its clearly aimed at music loving stylish people. The buttons, the design and subtle features make it a really interesting brand of phone. SE will make a big splash with the walkman line of phones. 10/10

launch video (bbc report)


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Monday, July 04, 2005

v600i and k600i released

Sony Ericsson's latest (Flash Lite enabled) 3g phones are now available. The v600 is available exclusively through Vodafone now and the k600i through other service providers including Orange imminently. I have opted to wait for the k600i as I actually prefer the silver finish and style. Expect a review shortly.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

lots more Sony Ericsson phones

The next batch of Sony Ericsson phones have been announced and once again there are a few models supporting Flash Lite 1.1.

In order, from left to right, the k608i,v600,w600 and s600i all support Flash Lite 1.1.

The k608i and the v600 are variants of the 3g k600 annouced a few months back. The v600 is a Vodafone exclusive, much the same as the v800 was. And the k608i is rumored to be an exclusive for another operator - possibly for Three? With the above addition to the Vodafone portfolio it means that 3 of Voda's 7 3g handsets will come with Flash Lite pre-installed. Of the other 4 handsets, both the series 60 Nokias support Flash Lite but dont have it pre-installed.

The other two SE phones (w600 and s600) are operator independent phones, at least that seems to be the case.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sony Ericsson to deliver Flash Lite

It looks like the above handsets will have Flash Lite pre-installed which makes them the first real set of operator independent Flash Lite phones. Flash Lite is mentioned in the developer world white papers for the k600i. I am pretty sure that the z800i will include Flash Lite as it is essentially the v800 with SE software rather than Vodafone branding.

Anyway you look at it this is great news for Flash Lite developers. In addition they look like really great phones, even if I cant afford to buy them all just yet :)

Heres a snippet from the k600i spec:

The Macromedia Flash Lite player is pre-installed in
the phone, allowing users to take advantage of the
features of Flash images. Flash images can be
embedded as moving objects on a Web page or
they can be available as stand-alone Web pages. It
is possible to interact with flash images using the
navigation key. Flash images can be included in
picture messages.

NOTE - I had mentioned the k750 and the d750 in this post but I have since learned that the whitepaper specified Flash in error. Unfortunately the k750i and the d750 do NOT support Flash Lite.

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