NEW YORK – Verizon Wireless is deploying a version of the Web media technology known as Flash to boost the visual sparkle of graphics, animation and video delivered to its cell phones — and hopefully spur more customers to buy that content.
The handset's software will be upgraded over-the-air with an automatic download when a customer accesses Flash-enabled content.
In tandem with the rollout, Verizon is introducing enhanced content, including new video games from Shockwave.com and graphic-rich applications from The Weather Channel and MovieGoer from Zingy.
Cell phone companies in Japan and South Korea have already introduced Flash-enhanced mobile content to their customers. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group PLC (VOD), says it is the first to do so in North America.
Adobe's Flash programming platform is best known as a tool for livening up Web pages with richer graphics and interactive features. It is also used to deliver video clips on the hugely popular YouTube service, which is being acquired by Google Inc. (GOOG)
Verizon said in a statement it expects to benefit from the large community of software developers already creating Flash-based media for the Internet: "Flash Lite for BREW utilizes the key features and benefits of the Flash authoring tool and the BREW platform, providing developers with a clear path to market for content distribution."
That means media developed for Web consumption can more easily be adapted for cell phone delivery. Still, a Verizon spokesman said media companies are looking to create more original material specifically for mobile devices and that the new Flash application will make that process easier.
Like most of the industry, Verizon Wireless has invested billions of dollars in network upgrades in a bid to boost revenue by selling non-voice services to its phone subscribers. So far, it's unclear how much demand there is for many of these mobile services, or how much extra customers are willing to pay to view such content on a tiny screen.