From the PC to the TV, Adobe Systems wants to bring rich Web animation and video into consumers' living rooms.
The company will on Monday announce its latest version of its Flash multimedia platform that will essentially put its technology in Internet connected TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, and other digital home devices. The main purpose of the TV and consumer electronics optimized Flash is to allow viewers to see high-definition video, interactive applications and new user interfaces right on their TVs.
As part of the announcement, the company revealed a number of partners that plan to use the technology, including, Intel, Comcast, Disney Interactive, Netflix, Atlantic Records, and the New York Times Company.
Until now, Adobe's Flash Player has mainly been used on computers to make animation and video from Web sites like YouTube available in a Web browser. And the company has been very successful in this market. About 80 percent of online videos worldwide are viewed using Adobe Flash technology, according to comScrore.
The company has also adapted its technology to create a mobile version of Flash that is used on smartphones. The mobile version lets people watch Flash-enabled video on the go. Now Adobe is turning its attention to the living room and big screen HD TVs. This means that people could have full access to the entire YouTube library of video on their TVs instead of a subset that has been specially encoded for TV viewing.
"There are some products and services that offer a subset of online video for TVs," said Anup Murarka, director of technology strategy and partner development for Adobe's Flash Platform Business Unit. "But they don't provide all the content. For example, a lot of devices play back YouTube content. But they can't offer all the videos on YouTube."
Developers will also be able to create "widgets" for TVs to help bring Web content onto the TV screen. Widgets are specially designed Web applications that can easily be added to consumer electronics devices.
Yahoo is also offering widget technology for TVs, which it co-developed with Intel. The Yahoo Widget Channel provides access to Flickr, Yahoo News, Yahoo Weather and Yahoo Finance, USA Today, YouTube, eBay and Showtime Networks, among others. Motorola, Samsung, and Toshiba are all planning to add Yahoo Widgets on some of their new TVs.
Murarka said that Yahoo is not really competing with Adobe. He pointed out that both Adobe and Yahoo are working with Intel, and he said the Flash technology was actually complimentary to what Yahoo is doing with its Widget Channel.
"Yahoo supports Flash on desktops and our hope is that they will support Flash in TVs as well," he said. "We see Flash valuable in a number of new frame works."
Murarka wouldn't say which consumer electronics makers plan to use the new version of Flash, but the technology is available to device makers and application developers now. And Flash-enabled TVs and set-tops should be out later this year.
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