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Video: Browsers vs. Apps for Content Delivery

In this excerpt from her presentation at Streaming Media East 2017, Frost & Sullivan Industry Principal, Digital Media Avni Rambhia explores the pros and cons of browser- and app-based content delivery, focusing on flexibility, complexity, control, user experience, security, and more.

Learn more about content delivery apps at Streaming Media West.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Avni Rambhia: Browsers have some immediate advantages. They're relatively simple to deploy. They are very favorable to discoverable services. In other words, if you go to a search engine and you look for a certain piece of content, if the service is available via the same browser, it's very likely to get clicked into and it's less likely to get clicked out of.

The reach and affordability is much higher. It's HTML5. How can you go wrong?

On the other hand, if you have an app, you have much more control over your road map. Simple things like, when certain streaming formats are switched in and out, how your screen real estate is used, what mouse clicks, what user interactivity, what other native device-specific features you can rope in, how you do authentication, how you save passwords, how you do two-factor, how you fail safe, how you force updates ...

You have much, much more control over the end to end experience with an app. You have much less need to worry about all those individual nitty-gritties if you're choosing the browser route.

The flexibility of DRM is very closely tied to the app approach. If you're using browsers, as we've seen before, pretty much you get the DRM as part of that ecosystem. Whereas if you're specific about wanting to choose a certain DRM system or wanting to integrate certain security features, right now, you more or less have to go the app route.

There is a middle ground here where you have an app that's using a browser framework underneath. At that point, you can choose whichever browser framework you want. That tends to be referred to as hosted web apps. When you're sending content out to a browser, pretty much the only thing you have control over is whether to send or whether to not send. That's pretty much the end of it.

You don't necessarily have insight in to what's happening with the content. You don't have a lot of control over how to manipulate the content once it's being sent across. And that's fine for many services. Again, you're going to be on a spectrum. But if you need fine grain control, if you need fine grain visibility, then browsers are not going to help.

The updates are also outside the control of the operator, and I want you to hold that thought for a second, because we're going to dive into it quite a bit in just a few slides.

The apps definitely have higher complexity upfront. I will say that it's getting easier with more and more DRM vendors understanding that the need to provide secure cross-platform playback. With a lot of new startups starting to understand that they have to do secure cross-platform playback, we're starting to see a convergence with the security expertise and the multi-platform playback expertise.

We're seeing costs come down very, very quickly. Where we were seeing the porting costs are a quarter million per device as recently as last year, we're seeing them start to come down to 150 per device, and they're continuing to fall.

The implementation times are also continuing to fall. You're going from a couple of months to a couple of weeks. We have some frameworks that are promising a couple of days, and that's without sacrificing any of the flexibility and the control.

So, it's getting better on the app side, but it's definitely simpler on the browser side.

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