I was reading this article in BusinessWeek about the MIT Media Lab and it started me thinking about Flash and Rich Internet Applications in a different way. Flash has the potential to bring powerful, life-changing applications to all corners of the world.
The mobile world has been touted by Macromedia/Adobe for a long time. The press releases show FlashLite adoption in Asia (usually Japan) and Europe, where the cutting edge phones are being released is quite high. However as Flash enabled phones get cheaper and cheaper, they'll become available to a wider audience. In many parts of the world, mobile phone growth is expected to be astronomical. One study projected additional sales of 1 billion handsets if countries exempted mobile phones from value-added taxes and customs fees.
If FlashLite becomes economically viable for these phones, it opens up the Flash Platform to an unprecedented number of people. Developers all of a sudden have the potential to change the world. A well-written, easy to use Flash app could provide farmers in Kenya an online marketplace in which to sell their produce. It could provide students in Nepal an easy way to access information from an encyclopedia.
The possibilities are endless and they go beyond simply providing web access. Surfing the web on a mobile phone is an arduous task, but FlashLite can provide a user interface that takes the data and presents it in a useful way that's easy to consume on a small screen. That's the kind of added value that can really make a difference in remote, low-technology areas.
Sometimes it isn't about selling your Web 2.0 startup to Yahoo! Sometimes it's about repackaging information for the world. Because it has the potential to be everywhere, the Flash Platform provides a pretty good engine to do both.