Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch reports that Microsoft Adopts Flash Lite For Windows Mobile As a Stopgap Measure. For those not keeping track of this, Adobe stopped supporting flash on Windows Mobile some time back. And now it looks like Microsoft has licensed the Flash Lite run time for Windows Mobile directly.
This is good news for Windows Mobile users, but Shonfeld is wrong about Microsoft’s reasons. He says,
… for Microsoft, this is just a stopgap measure until it can gain more traction for Silverlight, its Flash-competitor. The mobile version of Sliverlight 2.0 does not ship until the second quarter. Making WinMo more capable won’t detract from Silverlight’s appeal. There is a desperate need to get a full Flash-like experience on a mobile device. Flash itself is supposedly too slow on mobile phones. That leaves an opening for Microsoft win over converts to Silverlight by bringing video, animation, and other rich-media experiences to mobile. Nokia is already on board.
Does he really think that Microsoft would get into bed with Adobe Flash just because the Silverlight runtime doesn’t ship for one more quarter?
Microsoft is licensing Flash because they realize that they are losing to the iPhone. Simply put, Microsoft wants to make Windows Mobile better. Only running Silverlight would be a limitation, not an advantage. So they license Flash. My guess is that they’ll have a pre-installed Java runtime too.
On a related note, licensing ActiveSync to Apple has been much debated. Was is a good thing for Microsoft? Yes, and it is consistent with Microsoft licensing Flash Lite. Why?
- I think Microsoft has made the decision that Windows Mobile has to compete on its own merits (and not because it is a part of a greater lock-in with Microsoft Office).
- Microsoft also wants to protect their back-office Exchange licensing; what better way to do that than to make it easier for mobile handsets to support Exchange?
Adopting Flash is a step in the right direction. And licensing ActiveSync forces this point home.