Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on September 14, 2009
If you would like to learn how Adobe plans to extend Flash Video’s market leadership on computers onto other Internet-connected devices such as mobile phones and consumer electronics appliances, this interview is for you.
About 80% of today’s Internet Video is streamed in Adobe’s Flash format. That’s because nearly all computer users installed a Flash player. Consumers also like that Flash provides an “instant-on” playback experience, thereby avoiding the wait for a download.
However, Apple’s iPhone does not support Flash. Even at YouTube, where Flash dominates, iPhone subscribers must use a special prepackaged application to watch the videos. When iPhone subscribers visit other websites streaming Flash, they simply cannot see the videos. As a concrete example, iPhone subscribers can watch Inside Digital Media video streams at our YouTube channel, but to get them directly from our website they must either subscribe to the podcast or click on the “download to iPod and iPhone” link.
Obviously, Adobe is worried about the iPhone’s avoidance of Flash. The situation creates a conflict that is, as Don Corleone might put it, forcing the two sides to “go to the mattresses”. Our guest today is Adrian Ludwig who is the Group Manager for marketing Flash. His objective is to get Flash as widely deployed on mobile phones and consumer electronics appliances as it is on computers.
In the marketplace, Adobe’s efforts are termed the “Open Screen Project” thereby stressing the fact that the Flash platform is open to independent developers. Thus, Adobe is giving developers more innovative freedom than enjoyed in the iPhone environment where applications can be rejected by Apple. Adobe hopes that the strategy will enable Flash to become a standard among the rapidly growing number of newer Internet-connected devices just as it did with computers.
Apparently there are two accepted explanations for why the iPhone fails to support Flash. One is that the AT&T wireless network is already overtaxed and cannot hope to accommodate all of the video demand that a Flash phone would induce. AT&T has mixed feeling about this explanation. On one hand it puts them at blame, but on another it gives them an argument to justify high subscription fees to finance capital investment. Our reflex reaction is to doubt the validity since travelers to Asia are able to make video phone calls in a number of countries where wireless Internet charges are often less than in the States.
The second explanation is that Apple wants to insure a good video experience for iPhone subscribers. Since Apple cannot know the bandwidth provided by each of the websites streaming Flash videos, they cannot predict how satisfactorily, or unsatisfactorily, they’ll work. Therefore, Apple prefers to have the video first downloaded to the iPhone and then played-back locally where bandwidth vagaries are eliminated.
In our interview, Adrian discusses how Flash has been deployed on a number of Internet-connected devices aside from computers. Among them is the HTC Hero cellular phone that uses Google’s Android operating system. Unfortunately, Adrian declines to discuss why the iPhone fails to support Flash. Thus we are left to connect the dots without the benefit of his perspective.