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Streaming Media West Keynote: Adobe Advances Consistency Across Devices with Flash 10.1

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LOS ANGELES-Jennifer Taylor, Adobe's senior director of product management for rich media solutions, kicked off the second day of Streaming Media West 2010 with a Flash player overview

Taylor showcased the ways that Flash Player 10.1 is providing a consistent user experiences across a variety of devices.

"High-quality video and high-quality media experiences have become the norm on the web, thanks to Flash," said Taylor. "Yet, as the world moves quickly into a fragmented device landscape, we feel it's imperative to deliver a consistent run-time experience."

Taylor noted that Flash Player 10.1 has achieved remarkable penetration in just a few months.

"Flash player 10.1 penetration in three months has exceeded 74% of our user base," said Taylor, "which is the fastest ever for rapid adoption of a Flash player."

Taylor said that path to consistent quality and user experience across a variety of devices has been a long one, running in parallel between technology and content partners.

"There is a path to innovation for technology partners, and a path to secure delivery for the content partners," said Taylor. "With consistency as a key, how do we achieve consistency?"

"While it may sound confusing, we achieve consistency by using consistency," Taylor added.

She then proceeded to talk about consistency in codecs, protection, and protocols. Combined together, all create a consistent user experience.

Using mobile delivery as an example, Taylor talked about the consistency in codecs and protocols, using H.264 and AAC codecs as well as peer-assisted and HTTP delivery protocols as examples. In addition, she talked about content protection through SWF V.

"We also work across a number of device technology partners, tying together mobile hardware acceleration and consistent encode/decode scenarios across these disparate devices," Taylor said.

To provide the consistency, Taylor also said there was a need for dynamic delivery, allowing a video's bitrate to be dialed up or dialed down based on network variations.

"With Adobe Dynamic Streaming, we can ramp up mobile video delivery to the highest available quality experience," said Taylor, "and then, if the network becomes congested or inconsistent, ramp down to a slightly lower quality. We can then rapidly ramp back up when the network conditions improve."

User expectations is another reason that quality delivery is key on the mobile device, as users have come to expect a certain level of quality for desktop or laptop-based video.

Consumers are interested in watching premium content in what ever screen they have handy, so Taylor said that the parallel technology and premium content paths will continue.

"We're working with Broadcom, with chipset and with TV manufacturers," said Taylor, "to drive forward the digital living room."

Taylor then spent time showing off the Logitech Revue for GoogleTV, including HBO GO, a new service that HBO provides for seamless HD playback of HBO content.

"The seamless playback was based on Stage video, a technology first showed at Adobe MAX 2010," said Taylor, "which takes full advantage of hardware acceleration in the set-top box."

Finally, Taylor also showed how the typical workflow scenario for the average content publisher includes transcoding to 30 different video files, in anticipation of different viewers from a variety of devices.

"In essence, we find that the workflows are set up to create all these files, regardless of whether users actually watch these," said Taylor. "So we want to do something about that."

In addition to a few upcoming Flash Media Server technologies alluded to at Adobe MAX, Taylor also showed how Adobe is trimming those 30 files down to 7 streams.

"We've released a set of profiles, to generate seven streams from one file," said Taylor. "Based on Adobe Media Encoder CS5, from a single source file, we recommend three mobile or tablet encode outputs, two desktop/TV standard-definition outputs and two desktop/TV high-definition outputs."

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