Adobe has today announced its new Flash Media Server 4.5 and Flash Access 3.0 products that allow content providers to repackage and stream Flash video to iOS devices on the fly without having to re-encode it manually. This doesn’t actually allow iOS devices to play flash content, but it should allow publishers that rely heavily on content delivered in a Flash wrapper to get it out to iPhone and iPad customers in a quicker, easier fashion.
The media server product will allow users to use the same media and streams to deliver content to the iPad and iPhone that they’re pushing out over the net via Flash. The server will deliver a variable bitrate stream seamlessly to an iOS device requesting the video from a Flash enabled media site. This means that content providers don’t have to trudge through a huge library of video content and encode it in three different formats just to reach their whole audience.
It’s actually a great solution to the issue of how to deliver Flash content to iOS devices without having the device do the battery-draining and processor intensive work of handling the Flash playback itself. All of the heavy-duty work happens server-side and all the device has to do is stream the video. This is what Adobe should have done years ago instead of fighting a lame he-said, she-said battle with Apple over Flash.
Content providers seem to be happy with the new features of the Media Server at least, “when your business is based on delivering live, broadcast-quality video streams for high-profile events to massive audiences across the world, having strong technology backing you is vital,” said Ben Rolling, vice president of development for AEG Digital Media,“Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5 improves the stability of our video streams, decreases load times, and helps us better manage encoding and bitrates for an improved end-user experience on mobile devices and online.”
For all of the other devices out there that aren’t iOS, Adobe also introduced a Flash Access 3.0 product that will allow Android tablets and others to take advantage of the same type of unified stream. This will leverage the server-side conversion process to conserve battery on devices that may already have Flash support built-in.
The Flash Access 3.0 software must be purchased on a per-unit basis by OEMs, while the Streaming Server 4.5 product is offered at a pretty cheap $995. This should provide a very easy way for providers with large libraries, those that have not already re-packaged them in an HTML 5 wrapper anyway, to offer their wares to iOS devices without too much hassle.