Monday, April 16, 2007

Adobe Gets It

Adobe has announced the release of a new version of its Flash Video Player. It contains important new features which will cement its position as the dominant video format on the web: it will allow downloading, including scheduled downloads in the podcast fashion; and it will also include support for advertising, including unremovability and feedback for advertisers.

The Flash Player already has an unbeatable installed base... better than 90%. Its file sizes are more economic than its competitors and while the quality doesn't match Quicktime, at higher quality settings it looks a lot better than what you're used to seeing on YouTube.

These two new features are important: with the bandwidth we currently have, we'll probably never be able to smoothly stream high-definition video, so scheduled downloads onto a hard drive are likely to be the winning strategy. Likewise, advertisers will probably always be more willing to pay for our eyeballs than we are willing to pay to be rid of their ads, so advertising, rather than pay-to-view or subscription, is likely to be the winning formula.

It is certain that Apple's AppleTV product will have competitors in the race to connect the TV in the living room to the computer in the den, the last step in the internet TV revolution. I no longer consider it likely that Apple's proprietary solutions will give it a dominant market share, although they will be a significant player. Proprietary solutions are getting political pushback, and the media companies will not be willing to have their content controlled by a single company. I think it's more likely that a very diverse market will arise, likely centered on Adobe's open format, and that is all for the better.

No comments: