- Verizon Wireless Quietly Launches Flash-Based Storefront

Tricia Duryee
Wednesday, September 17, 2008; 8:00 PM

Verizon Wireless ( NYSE: VZ) has quietly released Dashboard, a new storefront found on its phones using Adobe's ( NSDQ: ADBE) Flash technology, mocoNews has learned. So far, Dashboard has launched on the LG Chocolate 3, and more phones are expected by the end of the year, making it one of the largest mobile implementations of Flash in the U.S., both Verizon Wireless and Adobe confirmed. Todd Murphy, Verizon Wireless's director of digital media programming, explained to us the platform stands alongside the carrier's Get It Now platform, and is designed to be an easy place for consumers to find both content from Verizon's deck, but also links that take you to the mobile Web, "It's a dynamic real-time store. It's one click up on the Chocolate 3. We have a system on the back end that allows you to merchandise and change things every couple of hours."

The launch of Dashboard comes just before Adobe's CEO Shantanu Narayen keynoted at CTIA, where he pleaded for more standards in the industry, so that content can be developed once and published across many mobile devices and also the Internet and TV. However, operators in the U.S. have been slow to adopt Flash, even though it's embedded in a lot of handsets. Lack of Flash is a constant complaint about the iPhone. Verizon has been one of the more aggressive companies on that front, providing a Flash Lite extension to its Brew platform, which features content from game companies, such as Smashing Ideas and Mobitween, but also videos from MTV's Atom Entertainment. Anup Murarka, Adobe's director for technical marketing, who also appeared at CTIA, told us: "In terms of Flash Lite, Japan has been the first and foremost, and then Europe and now it is gaining in the U.S." For instance, little do people know that Flash is used on some of the popular phones, including the LG (SEO: 066570) Shine, Venus and Voyager. "We can enable these experiences to be richer, or more engaging, and the end-user doesn't even know it...You'll see additional examples over the next six to nine months."

More on Dashboard's specs after the jump?

What is Dashboard?: With one click, a user with the right handset can launch the Dashboard, which features a number of widgets or channels, such as news, entertainment, music, ESPN ( NYSE: DIS), Fox Sports, Weather, games and search. Each channel has an animated ticker that scrolls across the screen, detailing more information about the channel. Murphy said this will not replace anything they currently have, but will compliment both the browser and Get It Now. "Flash is a powerful programming language, but it's not as powerful as J2ME and Brew as a run-time development. You couldn't do a deep application?you couldn't build VZ Navigator."

Dashboard vs. Get It Now: Murphy said the key is the user interface. It provides one place where you can feature links to both Get It Now and links to the mobile Web, which "is a significant achievement for us...There's no more one-way streets." For example, when you click on the Comedy Central widget, a user might have the choice of Joke of the Day and other features, but then also links to wallpapers and other content for sale. "Now you can merchandise mobile Web stuff right next to Get It Now stuff." Dashboard also has a search feature where people can find content by keyword, or if Verizon is featuring a sponsorship with Lil' Wayne, for example, they can provide a link, which would return a list of results for everything Lil' Wayne, from news to wallpapers and to ringback tones. That service is being provided by Medio Systems, which will be part of Verizon's overall search strategy going forward with Google ( NSDQ: GOOG), but also has a downloadable search application on Get It Now.

Three-screen strategy: The ultimate strategy is to have a platform that can run across all of Verizon's three screens: mobile, TV (via FiOS) and Internet. "We are part of the Open Screen Project, and we are very dedicated to working with them on getting a consistent run-time of Flash across all of our technologies...We aren't at that point where there's consistent run-times?they are fairly different?but Adobe is starting to scale the production of the tools."


@ CTIA: Keynote: Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen Stresses Need For Standards

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