November 9, 2008


Original Post from September 28th 2007.

I've been investigating the possibility of the delivery of electronic content for reading (not audio or video) using mobile networks or broadcast technologies. This includes the various mobile phone networks, Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) and it's international equivalents, Wi-Fi, WiMax and some digital radio technologies.

I'm far from done, but I plan to document here what I find along the way. Comments and contributions are welcome.

I start by taking a look at FlashCast from Adobe, and BuzzCast.

Apparently FlashCast is deployed on the Verizon network in North America.

  • Any end-user experience out there from US or Canadian viewers?

From the Adobe web I also see it has been deployed by KDDI (Japan), NTT DoCoMo (Japan) and SoftBank (Japan).

Here is a description of FlashCast, gleaned from the Adobe web on the subject:

"Adobe® Flash® Cast™ enables you to provide easily discoverable, engaging, and personalized data services—virtually anytime, anywhere. Differentiate and protect your brand, increase data revenues, and leverage existing network investments."

Off course this leverages the Adobe (ex-Macromedia) Flash format and Adobe's associated creation tools and user base although focused for mobile devices such as phones etc and is part of their "Mobile Experience Suite".

Adobe state there are over 250Million Flash-enabled devices shipped and 300 Flash-enabled device models

"Flash Cast enables consumers to subscribe to the "channels" of their choice, such as news, sports, music, and more. Content is delivered proactively so it is always available on the device regardless of network coverage."

Key Features include:
* Data-enabled channels of engaging content
* Multiplatform support across open and closed operating system platforms
* On-device catalog for easy discovery and management of content and services
* Support for rich media, including inline video, and native codecs
* Over-the-air updates of branded user interfaces
* Powerful mobile authoring capabilities

They push heavily on the message of its ability to protect your brand (by rendering it well I assume, and maybe with similar graphics to those seen on web and tv?).

It's not clear to me to what extent this adapts to the capabilities (screen size, resolution, color depth in particular) of the end device, and if that is done intelligently or you have to design multiple versions for different viewing devices. They do provide an emulator for mobile devices and update it with profiles when new devices are releases - so at least you can try out your content without buying heaps of mobile phones.

As always, Flash is designed to provide literally "Flashy" moving, colorful graphics (and includes a video player) and so that limits the types of screen that a device can have to really take advantage of it. But there's nothing to prevent you designing slower moving, purely textual, or greyscale graphical content with it.

There's not much information on the mechanisms for delivery of the content

Download the PDF datasheet on FlashCast here:

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