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Picsel beats Macromedia to put Flash 7 onto mobile

But software giant unconcerned...

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Scottish file-viewing specialist Picsel was happily demonstrating its ability to publish books, cartoons, video, and now Macromedia Flash 7 - all on Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. It also finds itself on the new NTT DoCoMo FOMA phone, model SH901i.

The Picsel technology is derived from the company's heritage as BBC Micro geeks - all the top technologists were ARM experts before Acorn and Archimedes became obsolete. Now, with the ARM chip universal in mobile, they have a user interface which (to quote the head of development) is data based, not application based.

This means the phone owner doesn't need to know what application to run in order to view particular content. Instead, the file viewer shows all available resources, and invokes the correct technology to display it.

"We're seeing massive interest in Japan for the comic book viewer," marketing director Zubair Salim said. "Where kids carry huge bound volumes of books around in the streets, flicking through cartoons at high speed - and we can reproduce that experience on a smartphone."

Staff on the booth were more excited about the ability to display standard web pages in Flash - and also, to encapsulate other content in .SWF format - at a time when Macromedia itself is still offering Flash Lite in an older version.

Developers told NewsWireless they expected to use this technology not just to add features to phones, but also to provide the user interface for new phones.

"What we like about it is that it's much more data centric. The user can deal with data they've downloaded, without needing to know which application to use. This means we can get ourselves into the main menu, not tucked away in the Java collection," one developer said.

Salim said Macromedia was "not at all upset" and suggested that on the contrary, the Picsel development strengthened Flash's presence in the market. "They don't seem to mind people doing Acrobat readers, so I don't see them complaining," he said.

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