Flash: Here, There, and Everywhere

Adobe’s move into AIR is a risky gamble, as current developer thinking revolves around an intentional disconnecting of web and desktop apps, based primarily on security and intermittent connectivity issues.

"We find that our customers want desktop apps that are robust," said Rajesh Radhakrishnan, VP of Business Development with Vritti, a Mumbai-based technology solution provider during an interview at Streaming Media Europe in London yesterday. "They use web applications as client access to content, but keep the two applications separated due to security concerns and difficulty in creating rich web applications. Putting the core application on the web raises several security concerns that clients would need to be educated on."

Adobe execs see AIR as a way, though, to leverage a legion of developers who have cut their teeth on RIAs that include database integration and significant dynamic data hooks, but don’t have C/C++ programming skills to turn these net apps into desktop apps.

"RIAs may look rather sophisticated, but you don't need to be an expert Flex, Flash, or Adobe AIR developer to build one," a recent blog posting on Adobe’s OnAir site says. "You can build RIAs using a variety of tools, techniques, and technologies, such as Java, Ajax or even HTML. In essence, you can build and deploy your RIAs to the desktop using the tools, technologies, and development models you employ today when developing for the browser."

The biggest benefit that AIR possesses, though, for the streaming media crowd, is the ability to push video content down to the desktop; as Adobe demonstrated, using its Adobe Media Player—AMP—as an example, Flash Video content can be streamed or downloaded the desktop, the latter being a first for content owners seeking to tap into an offline market for Flash Video playback.

On top of that, the Moviestar version of Flash Player will also support H.264 and AAC, plus an additional update to the Flash Video 8 codec from On2 that’s being called VP6-S. The original Flash Video 8 codec, now called VP6-E, was not capable of handling high definition playback; the new VP6-S simple profile, though, allows playback of HD content in the Flash Player.

"The news of VP6-S—an extension of the original VP6 codec—was overshadowed by the announcement of H.264 and AAC inclusion in Movie Star," said Mike Savello, Senior VP of Flash business at On2 during the MAX conference. "We’re actually pushing the processing requirements for HD playback down to machines with processors as low as a Pentium 4 at 1.8 gHz, which is something that H.264 can’t do since it has significant decode processor requirements. This allows Flash Video HD playback in almost any situation."

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