Adobe, which celebrated its 25th birthday over the weekend, today announced the release of Flash Media Server 3, the delivery platform for its near ubiquitous Flash technology. Perhaps the most striking change to Flash Media Server is the drastically reduced price.
Because in the past Flash Media Server has cost so much (upwards of $45,000 per license), streaming flash media has long been a very cost-prohibitive endeavor. The high price, commonly referred to as the "Flash tax," led many to seek out alternative media servers like the open source Red 5. The latest version of Flash Media Sever, which will ship in January 2008, will be come in three versions, ranging from free to $4,500 -- a price drop of 90%.
The Flash Media Interactive Server 3, the most expensive of the offerings, will provide more scalability and a robust new plugin architecture that its lower priced counterparts don't offer. But for single server deployments, the $995 Flash Media Streaming Server, should be sufficient and could be attractive for smaller media publishers. Adobe will also offer a developer version for free that supports up to 10 concurrent users.
Other important developments in Flash Media Server 3: the debut of streaming HD video. FMS3 will offer H.264 video streaming, as well as support for High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio that can be streamed to Flash player, AIR applications, or Adobe's Media Player app. The new version of the software also includes support for advanced seeking, meaning you can skip to any part of a streamed video and start streaming again almost instantly. FMS3 also includes significant performance increases over the previous version. Internal Adobe benchmarks show that at 20% CPU usage, Flash Media Server 3 can support more than double the number of streams as version 2.0.4. At 95% CPU usage, the performance gains become even more pronounced.
Image via Adobe.
Flash Media Server 3 also brings improved content encryption in the form of an enhanced Real Time Messaging Protocol and SWF verification. One final addition of note: FMS3 will offer streaming of Flash video content to Flash Lite 3 enabled mobile phones. As we reported earlier today, over a third of the world's population is now connected using some sort of mobile device. 2008 could end up being a huge year for the expansion of the mobile web and the delivery of high quality media over mobile networks. Flash Media Server 3 supports both prerecorded and live streaming to mobile devices and comes with features that help overcome the specific constraints of streaming to mobile platforms, such as limited memory and bandwidth.
As we said earlier, probably the most significant thing Adobe has done with Flash Media Sever 3 is make it more cost effective for small media producers to stream Flash video content. "By offering the Flash Media Server 3 product line coupled with new pricing options, Adobe is reducing the barrier to entry for content owners who want to deliver streaming video or real-time communications online," said John Loiacono, senior vice president of Creative Solutions at Adobe in a press release.
More information on the additions to Flash Media Server 3 can be found at Adobe's FMS3 FAQ.