Adobe on Wednesday will launch Flash Player 10, the latest in its ubiquitous 13-year-old line of multimedia plug-ins. For online video watchers, one big improvement is dynamic streaming, which will automatically shift bitrates as media is being streamed, depending on changing bandwidth. Content owners will need to use an upcoming release of Adobe Media Server to implement this feature.
Other improvements include 3D effects and better support for sound, drawing and text. Adobe has also moved some visual processing tasks to the GPU to improve performance. Support for what’s called RTMFP (Real Time Media Flow Protocol) will turn the player into a managed peer-to-peer environment and should help enable things like multi-user games and online collaboration.
Additional new features will affect simpler implementations of Flash, like videos on YouTube, including the ability to input keyboard commands such as pause when in full-screen mode.
Despite new competition from Microsoft’s Silverlight, Adobe appears to be adding to its market share. Some 86 percent of online videos viewed in the U.S. in August used Adobe Flash, according to comScore. That’s up from 66 percent in November 2007. Adobe attributes its own growth to the expanding market and to new deals with power sites LIKE? DirectTV, MySpace Music, Disney, and Sunday Night Football. Meanwhile, when you combine its Windows Media and Silverlight products, Microsoft has apparently lost market share. It had 24 percent U.S. market share last November and now has 13 percent.
Adobe is also expanding its worldwide presence, powering the official Olympics video site in China and NHK in Japan, for example. According to comScore, Flash accounted for 80 percent of videos streamed worldwide in August.
In an obvious coincidence of timing, Microsoft this week introduced Silverlight 2 and named new customers such as CBS College Sports.