The Boy Genius Report says that it is “pretty much confirmed” that Research In Motion will integrate full Flash and Silverlight run time support into its BlackBerry Web browser. If true, that would be a significant step in the transformation of smart phones into functional mini computers.
Flash and Silverlight are not just about games and streaming videos; the run times power Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). Adobe is promoting Flash to be used as a front end for business applications, and Microsoft is positioning Silverlight for business apps.
At SD Times, I have covered component makers that are releasing Silverlight controls (data grids, charts, UI controls) for line of business applications. After all, Silverlight is a subset of the .NET Framework, which is used for business applications.
With HTML 5, Web applications will become even more common, because it will have a built-in application container. Other techniques such as AJAX will also enable Web applications to run within a phone’s browser. (Nokia is betting that standard AJAX Web applications will become popular across its entire portfolio of S60 devices.)
Supporting Flash and Silverlight, assuming it happens, will bring a greater variety of applications to BlackBerry devices. Developers will be able to run their applications on Blackberries using the skills that they have today –without having to learn any specialized RIM technologies. That’s the way it should be; skills should be portable.
By embracing Flash and Silverlight, RIM would break out of the walled garden that smartphones have existed in, making itself more attractive and accessible to application makers. Consumers will win by being able to do more with their devices.