Adobe Showcases Media Player (with DRM)

Adobe will unveil Monday its business plan for a desktop Flash media player still in development. The product, due for beta release “this spring,” will be a free platform monetized through licensing DRM and analytics tools.

Adobe Media Player, which has been called “Philo” both internally and in early demos, looks like it could be an able competitor to internet TV efforts like Joost and video aggregation tools like Democracy. However, Adobe is not going that direction. The company is being careful not to set up its own proprietary platform, store, or even serial video index.

That’s because Adobe doesn’t want to cause conflicts with its partners and customers, said Craig Barberich, group product manager for Adobe Dynamic Media Organization, in a call last week. “The media companies have a lot of questions about the other technology providers – are they becoming media companies or becoming providers… We are not a media company,” he explained.

Adobe Media Player, in both Windows and Mac versions, will be distributed through Adobe’s own site as well as in branded form by media company customers. It is essentially a video RSS reader, with episodic content being brought in through feeds. Here’s a screenshot, including some sample content, though Adobe cautions that it is not yet ready to announce any partnerships.

Another business Adobe is not getting into is advertising, though the player will include tools for a wide variety of ad insertions, said Barberich: animation, pre-/post-mid-roll, overlay, and banner, all both offline and online. All content on the platform will be ad-supported; Adobe does not plan to include support for content sales, according to Barberich.

Through the player, Adobe will be launching its first effort at Flash DRM, something a third-party vendor, Widevine, had been the first to announce just last week. The timing suggests Widevine forced Adobe to show its hand, as one NTV commenter posits.

Barberich said Adobe’s DRM will come in two flavors: content integrity protection, where the company ensures advertising stays attached to content, and identity-based content protection, where the company disallows playing content outside of the computers on which it’s approved. Adobe will also sell a cookie-based reporting system for installation on customers’ servers.