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Adobe lifts Flash and AIR development restrictions

Handsets go royalty free

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Adobe Systems is throwing open its Flash and AIR file formats to speed delivery of Rich Internet Applications to billions of mobile devices with its tools and players.

The company is expected to announce that - as of today - all restrictions on SWF for multi-media and vector graphics and FLV/F4V, for video on Flash, have been removed. Adobe is also publishing the device porting layer APIs for its Flash Player, the Flash Cast protocol and AMF protocol for the exchange data between a Flash application and database.

In addition, Adobe has pledged to eliminate all licensing fees for the next major releases of Flash Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime, which are due later this year.

Underlining its focus on mobile, Adobe has formed an alliance of 14 leading handset manufacturers, parts providers, and media companies behind the Open Screen Alliance that it said would "address potential fragmentation" and provide "seamless updates" for the software. Members include AMD, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, the BBC, MTV Networks and NBC Universal.

Don't go get too excited, though. Dave McAllister, Adobe's director of standards and open source, stressed Adobe is not open sourcing SWF and the rest. Adobe is making it easier to read the code and build applications - you just can't alter the code.

Adobe's Berlin Wall is coming down just as Microsoft and Sun Microsystems prepare to entice developers, OEMs and content provides with their own players and languages - Silverlight and JavaFX. Sun will next week demonstrate JavaFX for mobile devices at JavaOne in San Francisco.

Sun, though, is already behind in this game: JavaFX has been baking for 12 months but is still not ready. Neither does Sun enjoy public backing from any handset or service providers. Microsoft, meanwhile, has promised "big" deals with manufacturers porting Silverlight to their platforms and distributing Silverlight with Windows and non-Windows mobile devices.

That said, JavaFX and Silverlight do threaten the uptake of Flash and AIR on mobile devices. Nokia, for example, is already dabbling with Silverlight.

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