Flash media comes to Verizon Wireless phones

A version of Flash is embedded in downloadable applications such as games, giving mobile users a richer graphical experience.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Verizon Wireless said Wednesday that the multimedia Flash technology, which enhances graphics and enables rich video and animation on PCs, has been adapted to the mobile environment and will be embedded in applications made for Verizon Wireless cell phones.

The "Flash Lite for Brew" technology, developed by Adobe and Qualcomm, beefs up graphics and animation for Verizon's "Get It Now" downloads, which are based on Qualcomm's Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) development platform.

The "Get It Now" service includes games, ring tones and other applications such as news and weather. The technology will initially work on four Verizon Wireless phones: The V (LG VX9800), the Motorola Razr V3c and V3m, and the Samsung SCH-a950. Flash Lite will be available on additional handsets in the coming weeks, Verizon said.

Several companies offering applications as part of Verizon's "Get It Now" service, including The Weather Channel and video game maker Shockwave.com, also announced Wednesday that their applications will use the Flash Lite technology.

"We've been delivering millions of BREW applications to our users over the last several years," said Ray Taylor, executive director of the data multimedia service group at Verizon Wireless. "But the Flash Lite for BREW technology enables us to offer a whole new level of richness to the graphics, animation and video."

Since it was developed in 1996, Flash technology has been a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to Web pages. But until now Flash has not been widely available on mobile handsets. A couple of carriers in Japan have started offering Flash-enabled content to their subscribers, but Verizon Wireless is the first carrier in the U.S. to offer it.

Because of this lack of Flash technology on mobile phones, the graphics and animation seen on these devices have been rudimentary at best.

"Up to this point, mobile content has been defined as unsatisfying on mobile devices," said Gary Kovacs, vice president of product management and marketing for Adobe. "Our objective has been to change that, and make mobile data services more engaging."

While Flash is often embedded in browsers and media players for PC users, Flash Lite is actually embedded in the individual BREW applications so that users don't have to download a separate browser or media player onto their phones.

Eventually, Kovacs said, Adobe could develop Flash technology for handset mini-browsers that would enable wireless application protocol, or WAP, site developers to enhance their mobile Web sites with rich graphics, video and animation.

"Right now we're working with Verizon to establish their presence using our technology," he said. "But there will likely be designers of off-deck content using Flash. We aren't active in this area now, but I think that will happen over time."