Microsoft is taking Adobe’s Flash head-on in a huge market where its animation/video software hasn’t caught on yet: Mobile phones.
Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK) said today that they’ll make Microsoft’s Flash rival, “Silverlight,” available for some Nokia/Symbian smartphones and Internet tablets later this year.
It’s a big catch for Microsoft: Symbian is the market-leading smartphone operating system, with some 77 million devices sold worldwide last year. And it’s just the beginning: A version of Silverlight for Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile smartphones will come later this year. We imagine Microsoft will court other phone manufacturers and carriers, too, both of which are eager to get more customers using the mobile Web and mobile multimedia content.
Meanwhile, Adobe’s (ADBE) mobile business sits in limbo. Flash has been a huge success on computers, but outside of Japan, it hasn’t had much success on mobile phones.
Why not? Money. While Adobe gives its Flash plugin away to consumers for free on computers — and Nokia smartphones, through a 2005 licensing deal — it’s tried to get mobile phone manufacturers and/or carriers to pay a licence fee for each phone it’s installed on. That’s limited its market share, and peoples’ interest in developing Flash content for phones — and could help Microsoft’s rival Silverlight catch on.