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« Some bets on mobile | Main | Dev.links »

January 17, 2010


John Dalziel

Many moons ago I worked at a company called Pogo. We'd built a mobile browser that ran at a reasonable speed over GSM. More importantly to this post was that the UI was built in Flash and we also supported it in the browser. Back in the early days of Flash 4 there was a SWF specification with no strings attached. Macromedia very quickly altered this to try and monetize players on devices.

Anyways, I took a prototype of the device to Flash Forward in Amsterdam - mainly to gauge developer interest. While I was there I also put it in front of some Macromedia evangelists. At the time they were very excited about their Flash Player for Comapaq so I figured they might help us promote the platform.

The chap I met was weirdly dismissive of what he saw but took all our contact details anyway. A few days later another chap from Macromedia arranged to meet us in London, but he wasn't there to discuss tech stuff or promotion, he was a lawyer sent to shake us down for money. As you said, 'batshit business models'.

"(e.g. compiling Flash into iPhone apps"

As I understand it they're doing just that with the next CS update - output to iPhone app.

John Dowdell

Hi, cross-device work actually preceded Flash... the Macromedia Director engine was actually ported to a variety of computers and consoles.

Biggest reason for the Flash Lite discrepancy was that the emerging class of pocket devices were dramatically underpowered compared to desktop computers. That's why an older SWF profile with fewer features worked for over a billion handsets.

Getting compensated for work is everyone's problem -- finding a business plan in a tumultuous high-growth environment isn't easy. ;-) (That's one of the things Apple did right with iPhone, by cutting out the operators and writing content developers a check.)

I'm still not sure how your title connects, but your final paragraph should be disproven within the year -- Flash's new mandate is to make it easy to deploy to any device, workstation, pocket, or wallscreen. The demand from manufacturers is enormous -- the engineering to *reconcile* those floating APIs is monumental, but proceeding. ;-)


Tom Hume

First off: thanks for commenting, it's great to hear something from the horses mouth to balance my remote gibberings.

Just to be clear: how is the new mandate for Flash (deploy to anywhere) different from the old mandate (run Flash anywhere)? When you say "deploy to any device", do you mean doing this by having a ubiquitous Flash player which plays the same Flash content on many devices? Or are you talking about going down the route that you seem to be going w/iPhone, of taking a great authoring environment and outputting platform-specific binaries?

The latter is what - as Alfie points out - you seem to be doing, but that's a markedly different strategy from the one you've been pursuing to date, and one which doesn't rely on monitising the Flash player (something you've tried and thus far failed to do in mobile). This is the point my last paragraph is trying to make.

John Dowdell

Hi Tom, the big change with Player work over the past year-plus has been in making a single engine which works across different devices. There will still be device capability differences (screensize, accelerometer, etc), but the logic and file formats will be consistent across form-factors.

(The "export to iPhone" tack is different, agreed... Apple restricts iPhone to a different runtime, requiring a different file. Adobe's goal in general is to make it easier for creatives to connect with their audiences, wherever they may be, whether the medium is print, film, video, HTML, interactive screen, whatever. Flash is a good means to that end (as most all manufacturers agree! ;-), but is not the only means.)


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