Microsoft will licence Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash Lite animation/video software for its Windows Mobile smartphones, Adobe said today. At first glance, this might seem counterintuitive: Microsoft is spending a lot of money developing a rival product called Silverlight, which, in theory, it should promote ahead of Adobe’s software. But today’s deal makes perfect sense.
In the short term, Microsoft must fight for whatever mindshare it can get for its Windows Mobile operating system, which is losing relevance to Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerries and Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, and will face more competition when Google’s (GOOG) Android smartphones roll out later this year.
Most phones don’t support Flash, so that’s one feature Microsoft (MSFT) can trumpet as a potential advantage over the iPhone. And while Microsoft is betting on its own app — Silverlight — it’s pretty useless right now, as very few publishers use it on their Web sites.
In the longer term, when Microsoft figures out how it will integrate its newly acquired Danger mobile platform and whatever mobile software it gets from Yahoo (YHOO) — and if more Web publishers like Major League Baseball adopt Silverlight over Flash — then it can worry about pushing Mobile Silverlight ahead of Flash Lite.