Adobe today announced the latest version of its near ubiquitous Web video software, Adobe Flash Player 9. It's codenamed Moviestar, because it includes H.264 standard video support Äì the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high definition video players. In other words, the quality of video has been substantially improved from the previous version of Flash Player 9. Also added to the mix is High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio support and "hardware accelerated, multi-core enhanced full screen video playback".
Adobe claims that these advancements will extend their leadership position in web video "by enabling the delivery of HD television quality and premium audio content".
The new Flash Player will be available later today as a beta at Adobe Labs - and the final release is slated to be available in the fall (September - November). The last big update to Flash Player was the launch of Flash 9 in June 2006.
Adobe: This is Tipping Point for H.264
I spoke to Mark Randall, Chief Strategist for Dynamic Media at Adobe, about the news. He told me there were three main points to the Moviestar release:
1) The H.264 support means superior video quality; it is also an open standard.
2) High Efficiency Advanced Audio is, says Mark Randall, a "successor to MP3". He said it is a higher quality audio, but at a lower bit rate.
3) It means "hardware acceleration" for Web video.
Randall also said that this represents a tipping point for the H.264 standard, because now Flash Player is supporting it as well Blu-Ray - two big industry players.
Richer Platform for Online Video Producers
As well as the consumer benefits, this also gives online video companies a platform to deliver richer Flash experiences on the desktop, Web and H.264 ready consumer devices. As well as the new Flash Player, H.264 playback will be supported by the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR - a platform to create rich Internet applications to the desktop) and applications developed with Adobe AIR software, including Adobe Media Player in late April.
Currently Adobe Flash Player is said to have 98.7% penetration in the Web, making it the most used media player:
Source: Adobe; Millward Brown survey, conducted March 2007
Higher quality online video is great news for consumers and producers alike - especially in a near ubiquitous media player like Flash Player, which is used on YouTube, MySpace and other major platforms. What do you think of this news?