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Macromedia hires former Microsoft VP

The software maker hires Juha Christensen, former head of Microsoft's mobile devices unit, to head the effort to expand use of Macromedia's Flash format by cell phone makers and carriers.

Software maker Macromedia announced Tuesday that it has hired the former head of Microsoft's mobile phone division.

Juha Christensen, who announced his plans to leave Microsoft late last year, will serve as president of Macromedia's new mobile and devices business unit, which is primarily focused on expanding use of Macromedia's Flash format by cell phone makers and carriers.

Christensen, one of the founding figures behind the Symbian operating system for mobile devices, joined Microsoft in 2000 to drive the software giant's push into mobile phones. He most recently served as corporate vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Devices Marketing Group.

Christensen had originally planned to join a mobile device start-up, but the opportunity to guide Flash's expansion into mobile devices was too good to pass up, he said.

"Most mobile phones today are predominantly used for voice and a little bit of text messaging, even though it's possible to create a much more compelling experience," Christensen said. "The big thing that's missing is exciting content, and Flash is a great foundation for that."

Macromedia is in the middle of an ambitious effort to expand the use of Flash--once seen mainly as a format for blinking Web ads--into a broad foundation for delivering Internet applications and building interactive Web sites. Mobile phones have become an increasingly important part of the Flash drive, with Japanese telecommunications giant NTT DoCoMo signing on last year as the first major carrier to offer Flash content.

Macromedia now has licensing agreements with more than 70 mobile device manufacturers and wireless carriers. Key motivators for them have been the small file size of the Flash Player client and its ability to deliver sophisticated visual presentations over low-bandwidth connections, Macromedia CEO Rob Burgess said.

"The efficiency of Flash that originally made it the standard in the PC world is a big plus with phones," Burgess said. "People always ask whether narrowband or broadband is the future for Flash, and the true answer is that it's great for both."