Here comes the next format war
A TV-ready version of Adobe’s Flash is coming to TVs and mobile phones near you, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention in Las Vegas.
According to the New York Times, Flash already resides on a whopping 98% of computers and 80% of Web videos are viewed using it. Some 40% of mobile phones shipped last year came packaged with Flash.
If things were simple, everyone might just agree right now to standardize on Flash, so that content creators could just get on with the business of putting their content online, on mobile phones, on portable media devices and soon, on TVs. But things are never simple, so Flash doesn’t get to just, er, flash in and sweep up.
Apple isn’t thrilled about Flash, saying it’s too big and takes up too much battery and processing power. With the iPhone rapidly becoming the phone of choice, that’s one big naysayer.
And just as it does with most software/computer/Internet-related things, Microsoft also could stand in Adobe’s way. Microsoft’s been aggressive with its new video streaming standard, Silverlight, which has been used recently by Netflix, the BBC, CBS and NBC during the Olympics, reports the Times.
Microsoft says Silverlight 2.0 is on 300 million PCs, and that it better supports live, HD video in 1080 p resolution, which means it could easily be used to bring Internet video to HDTVs.
My advice to these companies is this: Fight about it if you must but don’t take too long. Disputes over formats – see VHS v. Beta and Blu-Ray v. HD Video – put off consumers, slow adoption and spending and thus hurt the industry.