We all saw it coming and here it is. Adobe is to offer a DRM solution for Flash Video via its own Adobe Media Player, previously code named Philo. The Player was announced at NAB and it will achieve 2 major goals: consumers will be able to play FLV content right on their desktop (Adobe Media Player is an Apollo app under the hood and will run on Win and Mac, with Linux support to follow) and content owners will have the ability to restrict the content within it, either by simply making sure that ads show up where they should or by tieing the content to authorized computers. Click here for a screenshot.
I will spare you my thoughts on DRM (if you're a regular reader of this publication you will know my take on that) but I am nevertheless very excited about the Player itself - after all the DRM portion is optional. It appears to be much more than just another video Player, in fact it reminds me a little bit of an iTunes for video or an internet TV application. Some of the stuff you'll be able to do with this baby include:
- double click an FLV file to play it inside the Media Player, including HD footage, and do so cross platform
- stream, download and manage FLV content, watch it offline
- create Playlists
- automatically download your favourite shows
- protect FLV content both in downloadable and streaming format
- track your content
Wow, this is a lot to take in and the feature list here isn't even complete. This baby sounds a bit like the swiss army knife for online video, adding a ton of features for both content owners and consumers.
It should be noted however that the press release does not state if and how FLV content that's delivered traditionally (a la YouTube) can be protected - I presume it can't be. It may be the case that Adobe Media Player is required which in turn leads me to ask the question: how customizable will the experience be by developers? Custom branding is of course one of the main advantages of Flash video in-browser, besides the ubiquity of the format.
Adobe Media Player will be available as a free beta download in mid-2007.
Now let me digest this for a minute...