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My new FOMA 900i Series phone has video capabilities. You can record video off the TV and watch it, or you can have video calls with other FOMA phones. This is not necessarily part of the i-mode service. It's more of a function of the phone. They say that by 2005 there will be HDTV broadcasts being made to the FOMA network so we'll be able to watch High Definition TV on these phones. (Vodaphone already has units that pick up regular TV broadcasts)
i-mode handsets can view normal web pages. Older phones had difficulty and relied on the cHTML a lot more. I can surf WebmasterWorld on the train now. The only shortcoming I see is that the browsers don't seem to work with CSS. XHTML sites work very well but styling doesn't come through. Older "best viewed with Netscape" type sites seem to retain a lot of their styling.
One of the new cool factors is the Macromedia FLASH capability. Not a lot of sites have taken advantage of this yet, but it's got a lot of potential. This is an area where I think FLASH can excel. I wouldn't use FLASH on one of my normal sites, but if I had a FOMA focused site I certainly would.
I agree with your assessment about Flash in other platforms. the only hairpulling issue I've had with Flash is with small fonts, which seem to randomly reposition themselves, migrating at will, even after I have repositioned them several times. I never know what to expect every time I open the %$#@! file! One problem is that the system default fonts in Flash are different than the system fonts in many mobile platforms. why Microsoft chose Tahoma for mobile, I'll never know! that font is not a default font in any other platform I know of. seems to me, it should have been Arial and Verdana. I've also purchased a number of pixel fonts created specifically for flash, and even one of the new so-called "super pixel fonts". in any event, I can't keep margins aligned, tame kerning or even maintain consistent leading among menu items in a dropdown menu. I have carefully made sure all of my fonts are whole, even numbers (since Microsoft seems to round font sizes up to even numbers in all their other applications).
other than that, Flash has been a breeze to scale or repurpose for other formats. The head scratcher to me is that Macromedia never developed a Flash Player for the Palm Pilot. There is one for the Sony Clie, which runs on the Palm O/S, but it uses an older player based on Flash 4! One tends to get spoiled using MX or MX 2004!
I am also trying to port a streaming media slideshow project using Real Networks technology (RealPix and Realtext) + SMIL. Unlike the Flash project, this has been a nightmare! There's plenty of info regarding the encoding of media for mobile streaming, but Real Networks has drop the ball and I'd rather not completely reengineer the code to adapt to the Windows Player, which has their own proprietary markup language called SMIL+TIME. In my experience, of the 3 players, Quicktime, Real and Windows, the Windows Media Player seems to be the least reliable and has the highest failure rate. Real seems to be the most reliable, which is why I selected that format in the first place.
After hours and hours of searching, I never did find an answer to a very simple but important question. CAN REALONE MOBILE PLAYER BE EMBEDDED? my two failures to do so thus far tell me the answer is NO because the RealOne player appears to be independent of any mobile browser. Yet Real Networks refers you to their RealOne production guide for the remaining processes necessary to prepare files for mobile. Heck, even the controls and widgets are different! And I can't imagine the 3-panel technology works in that clunky, space-hogging RealOne Mobile Player! have you seen it? it takes up half the screen space!
I have resized, reoptimized and recompressed all the images for this slideshow FOR THE THIRD TIME! (RealOne Mobile Player misleads you into believing it offers full-screen mode. when I tapped 'full-screen mode', nothing happened. I'm thinking that if this feature exists at all, it's only in the monthly subscription version). That lead to the second resizing, as I was led to believe in the Real Production guide that the player opened within the browser environment. so I resized according to the recommended viewing area of the Pocket IE browser. Still, nothing would render. So, I have resized, reoptimized, recompressed for the third time, hoping to squeeze this microscopic slideshow into the viewing area of the RealOne Mobile Player. My fear is that we will need the hubble telescope to view it, that is if it works AT ALL!
if anyone has any information at all that could help me, I'd be most grateful. Real Networks sure seems to have better things to do than support newbie mobile developers like me! they have not responded to any of my email.
well, gotta go to class. thanx in advance for any info anyone might share!
i-mode is NTT DoCoMo's strategy of creating a 'walled garden" containing well screened collection of content providers who will add value to the system. They then make it very simple for you to interact with these providers and to consolidate billing for their services. So, for example if I use my i-mode to buy a movie ticket from one of the providers on the i-Menu, then the charges are added to my phone bill. It's safe, secure, and convenient. That's i-mode.
As regards to i-Mode in the UK, i'd be the first to buy a handset. As you may know, the only 3G network in the UK is "3", who are owned by hutchinson. They aren't doing too well, allthough their price plans are by far the best around, there service reception and handsets absolutly suck...add to that the fact that the internet is heavily restricted to certain sites and you can see why they're not doing so well. "Three" also recently rejected to bring i-Mode (does anyone know why?) to the uk market, even though NTT DoCoMo has (or had) a 20% stake in there business. Rumours are that NTT will swap to another UK company owned by british telecom "O2". I see Vodaphone have just released a laptop card which features a 3G modem, so things here in the UK are hopefully catching the rest of the world up!