FlashLite vs SVG

I had an interesting meeting during 3gsm with Ikivo CEO, Stefan Elmstedt and of Ikivo engineer, Sebastien Ruggeri. Ikivo provides some SVG implementation for mobile and some related tools. SVG was covering mainly the rendering part of vector graphics (or that was my understanding). So if you compare to Flash(Lite), it was just the vector graphics rendering part, and not the ActionScript part . Now TinySVG1.2 include some interactions and scripting capacities that can be embeeded into the file. In fact, it can contains a Jar file (and then interaction is done through JSR226) or some ECMA script. That’s quite interesting, and is a challenger for FlashLite. Unfortunatly, SVG content is quite poor yet, for two reasons in my view: lack of good tools (and I do not talk about Ikivo product, but of an equivalent of Flash), and lack of experimented designer with the technology. This still require some investigation (is scripting mandatory? thats unclear for me). But what if this happens, this is a great way to go into the path of integrating several component around J2me. So the SVG vs FlashLite battle is about to begin….

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UI thoughts


Mobiface is a great blog about evolution about UI. It has been quite silent for some weeks, but start to be more active now. So I encourage you to take a look at it. There are two great post about UI metaphor, especially regarding SonyEricsson phones approach. These phones haves in my view the most comprhensive approach, and yes, that’s evolution and not revolution. This allows users to keep their existing habits
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synchronisation or browsing? (Mobile 2.0 is not Mobile Web 2.0)

There was several interesting discussion, about what is equivalent of “Web2.0″. Some call it “Mobile Web2.0″. My perception is that it will be more “Mobile 2.0″, as the mobile does not imply the same approach as Web. Why? There are fundamental differences now between mobile and web (and mostly from a tech point of view approach):

  • User Interface on Mobile is Key: that’s one of the main difference between a PC and a mobile. On a PC, you have primary a keyboard, and a mouse. These are the two main input components, and a big screen to display user interface. On mobile, you have a very limited display, but much more input possibilities: audio, video, picture, movement, environment (Bluetooth), location, but very limited keyboard and mouse equivalent. So the best user experience will probably tightly link to the multimodal capacities of the phone.
  • Mobile is more about synchronisation than browsing. The trend now, on the web, is to provide you most of the user experience from a browser. This happens for two reasons: most of the people are now connected with high speed connection, and the emergence of high quality web browser. On mobile, we do not have these two components: connection is not always cheap, not always available, and not
    always fast. Browsers are very limited and not really full featured….

So what are the conclusions:

That Mobile2.0 will be in my view a smart mix between several components, able to

  • connect to a server to update local content, or to update server content from local data (synchronisation)
  • execute locally some complex task, mixing several inputs (local, web, etc…), and store this result locally (to be later synchronized)

From the end user perspective, this will be transparent (no need to care about installing an application). I think that technically speaking, it will be a combination of browsing based technology (typically XHTML) and some smart client like J2me, FlashLite, or just plain voice call or DTMF….

There won’t be any single technical answer to the frangmentation problem, as mobile is an innovative media, and then innovation generate fragmentation…


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3Gsm: First feedback

3gsm picture

Yesterday was last day of 3gsm. As usuall, it happens so quickly
that you have no time to see interesting things…. My original plans
of a daily report are gone now!

So, a few comments.
Big trends:

  • HSDPA. Seems to be the next big thing. More bandwidth (let’s see deployment) Planned, end of this year
  • “Rich Media Interfaces” Several provider, some entertainment oriented (like In-Fusio) some more general …
  • GPS based application. I did not see a lot of phone yet, but I
    clearely believe that we will see a lot of innovation here in the future.

I’ve seend a lot of interesting companies, with some great
technologies. Some of them includes RealEyes3D, Actimagine, Streamezzo,
YDreams….

More detailled report to come….

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WebToWireless game

The 3gsm will happens this week. I usually do not speak a lot about what we are doing here, at MobileScope or In-Fusio, especially in my team, the “advanced technology” one. I am doing an exception, as this will be publicly presented to the 3gsm. We will demonstrate our “ProjectX” technology.

ProjectX is a game and platform prototype, exploring three topics:

  • WebToWireless
  • Accelerated 3D on mobile
  • UMTS/3G data connections



The demo will show a racing car game, with a “Capture The Flag” concept; that can be played both from a Web Browser, from a mobile with a 2D version, or from a mobile with an accelerated 3D version.

The challenges are numerous: how to provide a reasonable consistent playability with both 3D and a 2D version. It helped us also to understand the expected latency with GPRS and UMTS on real networks. Finally, we started also to work on these new 3D accelerated chipset. Unfortunately, on this last topic, there is still some work to do…

So if you are interested, just come and see me at the 3Gsm, Hall2. I will be here mostly in the morning.

Also, thanks to Stephane De Luca, who was behind most of the achievement of this demo

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Another fragment in the puzzle?

This recent announce (see Games elite tackles fragmentation – thanks Ajit - ) is another (and new) effort to deal with fragmentation:

Fourteen of the industry’s biggest hitters have joined forces to address mobile gaming’s handset fragmentation nightmare.

The group, which includes EA, Digital Chocolate, Nokia, Texas Instruments
and Microsoft, has defined an open gaming architecture for native
mobile games for phones. The big idea? To make development quicker and
ultimately cheaper while providing a rich gaming experience for the
consumer.

Seems related but no similar to the OpenKod initiative, except that not all the participant are the same in both group. Well, sounds great on one hand (who could be against fragmentation reduction), but on the other hand, it create another fragmentation. We already had Java and his numerous JSRs, we had Brew, Symbian, Windows Mobile, than came FlashLite, and now another effort to “de-fragment”…. I love this space! So much fun in so little space!

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Face recognition: next step

Rya is a company providing face recognition to automatically tag photos…I have no clue if it works or not (I try to enroll into the beta!), but if it’s really works, this would have huge impacts on on-line photo sharing, including mobile, especially because it’s so complex to tag picture through a mobile. So with location, time stamp, and face recognitation taking a picture taking a picture from a mobile could provides a lot of meta informations (let’s call them tags! ;-) ) on a picture…

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Another barcode like techno….

ColorZip , is a new code reading technology. The novelty of this one is that it’s color based. Some interesting use is the ability to use it to capture such code from a TV screen….

Viewers will be able to simply point their camera phones at the screen to capture the codes and get directed to Internet sites where they can purchase goods or learn more about the programs they are watching. Content can be delivered as video, photos, music, text or a link to a website that automatically opens.

I’ve also discovered this nice blog genrally speaking about advertising MIT Advertising Lab.A lot of very interestnig info about new kind of advertising, not linked only to mobile. Check the entry about rethinking ads on plastic bags:

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Analysis of FlashLite

I am following Macromedia (and now Adobe) efforts in the mobile since several years, and FlashLite became more interesting recently. Not due to the introduction of FlashLite2.0, which I do not think is the key point, but due to the support -even partial- of SonyEricsson after Nokia.

That’s why, in this entry, I will try to analyze what could the key success factor (and of course, weaknesses) of FlashLite.

Strengths of FlashLite:

  • Good development environment. The Flash authoring tool is a good tool for designer, and allows them to create quickly great animation, very hard to achieve in a non vector graphic based environment.
  • Good graphical performance: easy development of UI, etc… A Flash Based UI is easy to do, with great features, fun feedback, especially for mobile phone. I usually do not like Flash based UI on the web, as designer tends to recreate their own metaphor, but one the mobile, there is still a lot of room for UI creativity.
  • Proprietary technology. That’s the good side of being proprietary: you can do what you want, include feature without asking the community, making mistake, solve them, choose to support something, etc… very quickly. But there is a downside!


What could slow down or eventually kill FlashLite:

  • Macromedia/Adobe just start to really experiment the issues of platform interoperability. For instance, reading the notes from FlashLite1.1 documentation , and from the experimentation I have on my phone, I have realized that even in the Flash world, things are not so easy…
  • On most of the phone, player CAN NOT be updated! So if shipped with million of phones, then it will remains for some time. No nice screen asking you to update to FlashLitex.x if a feature is not present.. That’s the same problem with MIDP* Proprietary technology! And operators do not like this. If the choose Flash, and then it became a market request, than they are stuck with Macromedia.
  • FlashLite, in my view, is still a Designer technology. I recently do another attempt to do something useful using FlashLite, and no doubt, development environment is still designer oriented, and not developer oriented. No doubt that’s a clear choice, and one of the strength of Flash, but this means also that this will restrict general usage of the technology. Learning curve will probably be bigger for developers.
  • A success of SVG/J2me…SVG just manages the animation part, and the spirit is that J2ME manage the behaviour. On the paper good, but there are several issue: first, there is not yet a good environment development (like Flash) to enable this. Then, J2me app must be downloaded and installed. Then can not add downloaded code on the flight. This limits a lot the possibilities. I guess that something like a SVG+a scripting language (with a J2ME based interpreter) might solve the solution.


Don’t take me wrong. I think that 2006 will be a big year for Flash, and I will try to investigate more the technology, as it provide many great advantages today, compared to alternative.

My ideal whish is to see the emergence of a better “cross technology” compatibility/communication, between the major ones: JavaMe, which is the clear leader, FlashLite, a true challenger, and the new generation of mobile HTML (the Opera Mini trends, Mobile Ajax, etc….). This does not happens yet…..

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