Adobe Systems plans to take its popular Flash Player technology to the next level Tuesday, unveiling an update codenamed "Moviestar" equipped with high-definition video technology.
Moviestar will support the H.264 codec video compression standard now available in Blu-ray systems, HD-DVD players, and TV set-top boxes. The company will offer Moviestar in a beta version Tuesday, with the intention of releasing the final product this fall. Moviestar adds to the existing Flash Player 9 platform.
With Moviestar, Adobe is taking note of the rising profile of video on computers.
"Video is really driving so much of the Internet now," particularly marketing and communications-related endeavors, said Mark Randall, chief strategist for dynamic media at Adobe.
"What [the announcement] means is that people are going to be able to have higher quality experiences," Randall said.
"[Enterprises will] be able to deliver better-quality experiences and do so more efficiently in terms of bit rate," said Randall.
Adobe's endeavor is one of considerable magnitude, according to Randall. He said his 25-year career has been about putting increasingly beautiful pixels on-screen and that the H.264 move probably "is going to exceed all that."
With H.264, Adobe is supporting hardware acceleration and playback. "People will see clearer images and smoother playback," Randall said.
With support for H.264 as well as for High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding in Moviestar, Adobe said it is enabling an expansion of Flash-based rich media experiences on the desktop and on H.264-ready consumer devices.
Adobe is on the right track by backing H.264, said analyst Melissa Webster, program vice president for content and digital media technologies at IDC.
"H.264 is a very widely supported standard, and it's one of the key standards for HD," Webster said. "This means Flash Player will be able to play all the content people are currently creating in H.264, no transcode required"
Adobe is now duking it out with Microsoft on the PC video front with Microsoft recently introducing its Silverlight technology. The two companies are supporting different formats, Webster said.
"The important battles today are all around formats and the standards that underpin them. Adobe and Microsoft are definitely battling for share on the video format side. Microsoft's VC-1 codec provides HD video and is a competitor to H.264. Adobe's move to support H.264 definitely gives H.264 an important boost," Webster said.
H.264 is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding), Adobe said. It was devised by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group together with the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), according to Adobe. H.264 also will be supported in the planned Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), for running rich Internet applications on the desktop.
The beta of Moviestar can be accessed on the Adobe Labs Web site some time on Tuesday.
Adobe already has announced support for H.264 in its Adobe Media Player, which is software for watching TV shows and movies on a desktop computer. This version of Adobe Media Player is due in the first quarter of 2008.