Thursday, 10 April 2008

Adobe has its finger on the pulse

For a while now, ever since I first bought a PVR, I realised that the way we consume live content will change. The PVR lets me record TV to a hard drive and watch it later at my leisure, by picking items from the electronic program guide. It's a really easy way to record things to watch later and a benefit of this is that you can fast forward the adverts. Then I discovered podcasts, and later video podcasts and I could see how TV would go from being broadcast live to a subscription "on demand" model. I think all TV will eventually end up being delivered in this way, where you might subscribe to a series and every episode is sent to you electronically as it is released. Very much like video pod casts are today.

For this vision to succeed, a good media player that supports this is needed. The obvious candidate is iTunes. iTunes tends to be more focussed around music libraries and digital players but definitely has this capability even today.

However, this article is about Adobe, who have just released a new media player that uses its Air technology. This media player's focus seems to be almost exclusively on subscribing to TV shows; they seem to have built this from the ground up to do this. So iTunes has a real competitor here and this could be the media player of the future - if it were built into set top boxes so you can watch all this stuff in your living room without having to load up hundreds of megs of code in a modern OS (i.e. windows, linux or mac OSX). I wonder if this will happen. If they are smart, they'll go down this route.

The other reason that this media player is noteworthy is that it is built using Actionscript. AS 3 is really powerful and in the next few years I think we'll start to see some proper heavy weight applications coming out that use it. Delivery using Air is interesting (use Actionscript to build desktop apps - it probably explains Silverlight as a response to this possible threat to Microsoft language dominance for desktop apps). Adobe eating its own dog food is interesting (see also the recently released Photoshop Express - another online application built using Actionscript 3 which the engineers who worked on Photoshop itself built).

Now, if only they would merge some of the best features of Director (Xtras, the 3D engine) into Flash, I'd be a happy developer ;)