Adobe announced its Flash Media Server 3 family of products on Tuesday, adding new features to its growing ecosystem of interactive and linear media tools.
As Flash continues to be a highly popular format for the Web-based video explosion, the company is promoting Server 3 as providing "a more efficient instant-on video experience virtually anytime, anywhere."
That ubiquity includes delivering to a wide variety of desktop and mobile devices, and the ability for Flash-based products to "work consistently across multiple browsers and operating systems."
Streaming and Interactive Servers
The new offering has two components -- the Flash Media Streaming Server 3, which is used for live and on-demand video streaming, and the Flash Media Interactive Server 3, for social media applications as well as "customized scalable video streaming services."
The company said new features include almost twice as many streams per server, support for higher-quality H.264 video and HE-AAC audio, upgrades for delivering copy-protected content, and better live video support.
With Streaming Server 3, both prerecorded and live video streaming can be sent to mobile devices that have Flash Lite 3, and there are no license restrictions on bandwidth or the total number of connections. Interactive Server 3 combines the capabilities of Flash Media Server 2, Professional, Edge, and Origin Editions.
Streaming Server 3 can stream to Adobe AIR, which is the cross-platform runtime that enables rich Internet applications to run on the desktop. In early 2008, Adobe is expected to release Adobe Media Player, which will be built on AIR. The company said that the Media Player will enable "high quality broadcast television both online and offline" in a customizable experience.
Competing with Microsoft
The positioning of this updated product family highlights Adobe's strategies as it tries to expand on its Flash empire. Broadcast-quality video, sent to any current-generation device, has emerged as one of the Web's key strengths as a distribution platform. On that front, the Media Server 3 family competes with Microsoft's Expression server for delivering streaming video, among others.
On another front, Microsoft is again a competitor because of its Silverlight platform. Adobe is similarly trying to develop an ecosystem for RIAs for combined online-desktop experiences. Built using the company's Flex framework, and run using AIR and its Flash player, RIAs could lead to an entirely new arena for interactive, multimedia applications.
That arena can be extended to include applications beyond the PDF- and media-based ones for which Adobe is known. Last month, for instance, Adobe announced it had acquired Virtual Ubiquity, a company that had developed an online word processor called Buzzword that runs on AIR.
Buzzword allows people to create word-processing documents that are both local to their machines and shared online. The chief advantages are that documents can be accessed from anywhere, and permission-setting can help facilitate version control. In short, RIAs could begin to compete with Microsoft's Office applications.