Archive for November, 2006

New Platforms Are Exponentially Expensive

An interview with Microsoft’s Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president for Consumer Media Technology, provides a glimpse into Microsoft’s vision and strategy for digital media.

There’s a bit of corporate apparatchik speak(“the great strength, quality, and flexibility of Windows Media should not be limited to PCs only”), but Majidimehr speaks openly about the challenges that Microsoft has faced in moving Windows Media from PCs to home, mobile, and other devices.

One thing that’s often lost on web-biased technologists is that each platform on which you want to support your media ecosystem adds exponentially greater complexity, in both technical and business challenges.

When technology companies talk about where media goes, you’ll hear the phrase: “One Foot, Three Foot, Ten Foot.” This represents the triad of channels/windows through which the majority of people buy, view, and share media: One Foot is your mobile device; Three Foot is your PC; Ten Foot is the big(ger) screen in in your living room.

Solving Web video problems – the Three Foot challenge – is the easiest. As Majidimehr notes, media clients (decoders) can quickly be updated via always-on web connections, so you can rev your codec frequently. Hardware is relatively standardized and usually of good quality and recent manufacture. More cynically, expectations are low – if it “just works”, most end users will be content.

However, the other two arms of that triad are much more challenging.

Three Foot
Mobile video means a drastically different business model, working with carriers who control access to media and care about ARPU and little else, and device manufacturers who care about manufacturing and codec licensing costs, runtime footprints, and squeezing every last drop of performance out of a mobile processor. Not to mention that the carriers and device manufacturers get along as well as two Bettas sharing the same tank

Ten Foot
Move to the living room and face a huge installed base of legacy hardware that can’t decode or playback your video, MSOs/Telcos/Satellite who need full support for your protocols and codecs throughout their massive storage and delivery infrastructure before they’ll even think of deploying, and a dozen different Consumer Electronics manufacturers who need your codecs stable (i.e. frozen for years), widespread, and cheap.

In other words: there’s a lot more to bringing a codec to a new platform than just porting the player to a different OS, and I sympathize with the issues that Majidimehr talks about.

One other quote I found too provocative to let slide. In discussing the rise of Flash video, Majidimehr says:

“The biggest factor to that shift is installed market share—Flash is second only to Windows Media player in installed base for web video playback.”

Interesting statement. Is that all installed versions of WMP? Does that count multiple installations on the same PC? Are we counting back to the NetShow Player? I would love to see the statistics behind that claim.

There is a difference between “installed base” and “currently addressable base”. Argue all you want over Adobe’s published Flash Player penetration numbers, but you’d be hard pressed to find many folks doing PC-based streaming media who would not scratch their heads at Mr. Majidimehr’s statement above.

Amazing FMS Streaming Concert Archive: Wolfgang’s Vault

Rob Hall announced the launch of and FMS based project he worked on called Wolfgang’s Vault http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/

This is so great. Words (almost) fail me.

The content – original concert recordings of the pioneers of rock, R&B, soul, folk, jazz – is amazing, complete, and deep. Everything from David Bowie to Devo to Miles Davis.

I’m writing this while listening to Led Zeppelin live at the Fillmore West in 1969 visiting San Francisco during their first foray “across the pond”. The show, a good quality live recording from the sound board, begins with Robert Plant making small talk as Jimmy Page slowly replaces and tunes a busted string (he jokes: “Has anybody got a Les Paul?”). The lack of polish and showmanship is nearly stunning and reminder of how early they were in their legendary careers (Plant introduces the band members one by one); however, the music is pure energy and talent. Beautiful round bass tones, larynx shredding vocals, Bonham’s blistering drums – really a time capsule of a time and place in music history that I, in my relative youth, know only from posters and black and white photos.

Continue reading…

FMS Resource Center

Scott Morgan, FMS Support Engineer and jazz studies major, has created a pair of FMS tools to help get you started with or troubleshoot your FMS installation. In his words:

SimpleLive.zip is a demonstration of live publish/subscribe from FMS2. The .zip includes HTML, compiled SWF and FLA source file.

SimplePlayback.zip is a demonstation of streaming playback from FMS2. The zip includes everything you need (compiled Flash SWF and Spark encoded Flash FLV video file) to stream video from FMS and includes Flash FLA source code.

These tools are hosted in an Acrobat Connect meeting room. To download these tools, go to http://fms.adobe.acrobat.com/resources/ and log in as a guest (just put any name in the form field – it’s an open room).

If you have any questions or issues, please leave a note in the comments to this post.

Great job Scott, thanks.

Looking For A Site Using Fullscreen Flash Video

As we’re moving closer to the shipping release of the Flash Player 9.1 Beta, I’d like to find some customers who are using the fullscreen video feature and would like to be included in the “Customer Showcase” for the Flash Player product page (http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/).

If you are interested, please leave a note in the comments for this post.

FMS Event In Hollywood November 9th

I’ll be presenting a free seminar on FMS in Hollywood next week. Details here.

It’s from 10am – Noon, with a networking lunch afterwards. I’ll be talking about FMS and Flash Video, showing demos, and some tutorials on getting started with FMS. If you’re an FMS guru, it will be a bit basic, but did I mention it was free? Lunch, too!

If you’re in the LA area, please consider registering and stopping by.

Adobe Wins Emmy Award for Streaming Flash Video

Just a bit of self-promotion, pardon the indulgence.

Adobe Wins Emmy Award For Flash Video

Earlier today, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced that Adobe was awarded a Technical and Engineering Emmy in the category of “Streaming Media Architecture & Components” for Flash Video and FMS.

This is a great recognition for the amazingly talented FMS development and QA teams, as well as those in the Flash Player and Authoring groups.

I’ll see if we can get “Emmy Award Winning” on the FMS 3 box :-)

FMS 2.0.3 Brings Commercial Use of Free Developer Edition

At MAX, I formally announced a change to the FMS EULA that had previously been reported on several blogs: As of FMS 2.0.3, the free Developer Edition can now be used in commercial applications. We hope this helps people build new, innovative businesses around FMS.

The FMS 2.0.3 EULA is posted here for reference.

Please note that the Developer Edition is limited to 10 concurrent connections (unlimiited bandwidth), and the updated EULA prohibits clustering or load balancing groups of Developer Editions.

Enjoy!