Adobe Offers Glimpse of Flash Media Server 3

Adobe Systems on Thursday offered a sneak preview of its upcoming Flash Media Server 3, which will be released in the first quarter of next year.

The new release will offer nearly double the performance of its predecessor, Adobe said, as it combines traditional streaming media capabilities with a flexible environment for creating and delivering interactive social media applications. Other highlights in the new version will be live event support, industry-standard H.264 video codec and AAC+ (advanced audio coding) audio codec support, and increased protection for streamed media via a new encrypted protocol.

“As video on the Web accelerates, audiences around the world expect more reliable, high-quality experiences that live up to and surpass television,” said Jim Guerard, vice president of Dynamic Media at Adobe.

“By utilizing the performance gains, increased content protection and a better out-of-the box experience in Flash Media Server 3, publishers can quickly and more securely integrate video into their Web sites and applications with more control over playback, interactivity, and branding,” he added.

Gearing Up for HD

Adobe Flash Media Server 3 is the foundation for delivering both recorded and live Adobe Flash Player-compatible video. It complements Adobe Flash Professional CS3, Adobe Flash Player 9, Adobe Media Player and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR).

H.264 is the standard deployed in Blu-ray and HD DVD high-definition video players for increased compression without quality degradation. Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects software already support the standard, and last month Adobe upgraded Flash Player to support it as well.

Television shows like “Last Comic Standing,” “Medium” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” are being delivered online via Adobe Flash Player video, and the technology also powers the video capabilities of social networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube. Microsoft’s Silverlight is Flash Player’s principal competitor.

“One of the key components to NBC Universal’s digital strategy is to provide viewers with access to our content whenever and wherever they want,” said Darren Feher, executive vice president and chief technology officer for NBC Universal. “I am excited by the possibilities of Adobe Flash Media Server 3. Its promise of faster performance and legitimate content protection will be a welcomed addition to the ease, flexibility and ubiquity NBC Universal currently enjoys with Flash video across our broad array of online platforms.”

Mobile Streaming

Adobe Flash Media Server 3 will also support live and recorded streaming to Adobe Flash Lite 3, the Flash Player runtime designed for mobile phones, enabling operators, handset manufacturers and developers to deliver more engaging experiences to mobile users. Adobe expects the first Flash Lite 3 enabled devices to be available by the end of this year, the company said.

Also on Thursday, Adobe and Cisco Systems announced that Cisco Systems’ Content Delivery System (CDS) will be the first of its kind to natively support Adobe Flash streaming capabilities. The Cisco CDS is a platform for content and rich-media service delivery including streaming intensive Web services, video on demand, time shifted television, video ad insertion and next-generation content delivery network (CDN) services.

“Cisco and Adobe share a common vision of delivering any content, anywhere, anytime, to any device,” said Paul Bosco, vice president of video and broadband initiatives for Cisco.

“Support for Adobe Flash Media Server 3 streaming on the CDS platform will greatly enhance our customers’ ability to deliver any stream to any of the wired, wireless and mobile devices in our connected lives — including an increasingly consistent user experience,” Bosco added. “The Cisco CDS platform provides an ideal foundation on which to build and scale the distribution and delivery of Adobe Flash Media Server 3 applications and streaming services.”

‘Player of Choice’

“Adobe is at the forefront of the online video phenomenon,” Harry Wang, a research analyst with Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld. “There is huge demand for streaming solutions with greater efficiency and lower costs, and Adobe is in the lead.”

Cisco’s implementation of Adobe Flash Media Server 3 is a “very logical step,” Wang added, and a natural extension of its CDN business.

“Flash has become the player of choice for computer video,” agreed Phil Leigh, senior analyst with Inside Digital Media.

The fact that Flash works on both Apple and Microsoft platforms and has a nearly instant-on capability are two reasons the technology is in the lead, he told TechNewsWorld.

“Adobe needs to continue to advance the state of art; otherwise, it will fall behind,” Leigh added. “Probably it’s hoping to prepare for the day where it can become an important player on the TV as well. If Flash can develop the kind of resolution that would look good on TV, that would put them in a very strong competitive position.”

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