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Macromedia will develop a version of its popular Flash player for Qualcomm's BREW runtime, helping both companies dig deeper into the market for mobile application developers.

A version of Macromedia Flash Lite is due next year that extends Macromedia's relationship with Qualcomm, signed earlier this year, to develop a set of applications for Qualcomm's Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW). The agreement also means Flash will be available on BREW for the first time outside of Japan.

Flash opens the door to dynamic multimedia applications and user interfaces for BREW handsets, built using Macromedia's relatively simple application development environment - an environment that is popular among more graphically-oriented developers. Macromedia claims it is up to five times easier to use Flash than similar environments.

The deal is designed to help both companies expand their footprints in the mushrooming field of mobile applications and services.

BREW should help extend Flash's ubiquity on PCs to mobile devices. Macromedia estimates 98 per cent of internet-connected PCs are installed with Flash, compared to 40 million of the world's estimated 500 million mobile devices.

Flash is currently available pmly on BREW handsets in Japan from carrier KDDI. BREW, though, claims 56 commercial operators; and 37 device manufacturers offer BREW platforms and services in 29 countries.

Marcomedia's Anup Murarka, senior director of technical marketing, told The Register 40 million handsets is just a fraction of where Flash can go. Macromedia wants a mature ecosystem and distribution channel in place "that really gives" Flash developers a place to publish and charge for the content they build, he said.

A deal also helps Qualcomm not only helps to make BREW more attractive to new carriers, handset and service providers, but to existing CDMA partners who have chosen to deploy Sun Microsystems' rival Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) as the software platform instead.

J2ME has seen huge success in the mobile field, with 400 models of handset supplied by 32 manufacturers running games, ring tones, applications and services. Yankee Group expects Java to run on 60 per cent of the world's Java handsets that are shipped by the end of this year.

Tom Grieco, Qualcomm's senior director of BREW developer relations, said BREW provides better performance in map rendering and 3D games than J2ME and that the relationship with Macromedia would bring millions of new developers to the BREW platform. Macromedia claims more than two millions developers for Flash.

"Macromedia brings in technology that makes the applications more compelling and more interesting. It also brings into the fold Macromedia Flash developers who can start working with Qualcomm. It strengthens the ecosystem for the BREW solution and brings in a different, more graphical, developer," Grieco said. ®

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