News Flash (Lite)

A while ago, I blogged about a cool new site French company Mobitween had launched, namely on user-generated games. Now, the good folks are a bridgehead in mobile Flash (they had their fingers in the code more or less from day 1). So, where is Flash Lite today?

Here's the install base numbers as recently released:

From just over 14% to 23% in a year (yes, I know, this is based on a flat 2 bn handsets out there)... In any event, that is rather respectable, don't you think?

Flash has the great advantage that its graphics are vector-based and therefore scalable. This means that most of the porting nightmare that contributes to 30-50% of the cost of mobile games, etc would fall away. Nice thought... It would make the whole commercial model of mobile games dramatically rosier. And it appears to be gaining traction: e.g. does Adobe make Flash Lite available on Verizon phones (and I've been told - confidentially - of one publisher having recorded more than 2m Flash game downloads on there already).

Flash is particularly good for casual games, which is, as everyone close(-ish) to mobile games knows, all the hype for the (small) mobile screen, and rightly so, as it is normally easier to adapt a casual game to the screen limitations (not even starting to talk about processing power) that are inherent to mobile phones. A natural fit, huh? Just look what Mobitween and their users have come up with! And I don't even get started on Atom/Shockwave (read an interview here) and all the others out there...

Is it then that we only need to wait until Flash Lite (finally) reaches the mass market? On the web, Flash hurt Sun's Java badly. Will the same happen on mobile? Or will Sun be smarter this time, and make sure that its currently dominant position will be reinforced by making it easier for developers to publish on their platform? The jury is out...

The Sun rises on QR -- posh mobile bar codes, that is...

The UK's favourite, erm, newspaper, the Sun, records good numbers with a recently introduced QR (Quick Response) codes using 3GVision's i-nigma application. This is how it works:

"The barcode-based technology enables users to scan their mobile phone over pages of the newspaper, which in turn uploads relevant information onto the device. For example, a football fan could read a match report and use the technology to upload video highlights of the game."

The Sun, the above source reports, has acquired 11,000 users of this, and all this in just over a month. This is quite respectable one might say although it is only a tiny fraction of the Sun's daily readership of 7.9m (as we are informed here). The Sun freely admits that it needs to educate consumers on how to use this; it explains the service online and also plans to produce a pull-out to add to this. This would point to rather high expectations of what the service will do.

The paper's hopes are that the service will help it to boost printed editorial and advertising content in the publication, and help print to become a more profitable medium (they are apparently suffering currently).

The advantage of this is, of course, quite obvious: the advertiser benefits as it can directly measure the effectiveness of its (QR-enabled) print campaigns through the amount of traffic received. The codes can even be used as vouchers. The user could simply scan a code and present the resulting data at a retail outlet to receive discounts or special offers. No surprise then that it is reported that a number of advertisers, including Sky, Ladbrokes and 20th Century Fox (the first and the last belong to the same Rupert Murdoch's media empire as the Sun though).

The codes, alas, are not so new: It is said to be the most common form of bar code in Japan today.