Flash support on TVs will mean Hollywood will need only one format for digital mediums

Adobe may be better known as the company that makes photo and video editing software, but its most widely used product is something that the company gives to consumers for free -- Flash technology. Flash technology is widely used today and is the tech working behind the scenes on may web servers and websites that allow users to enjoy online video.

The New York Times reports that Adobe will announced at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas that Flash is being extended to the TV screen. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen says that he expects TVs and set top boxes supporting the Flash format to be on the market later in 2009. The big benefit of Flash technology coming to the TV screen is that users will be able to watch the same videos on phones, the PC, and on TV screens. For content makers, that means that only one format is needed to be viewed on the majority of mediums.

Disney is one of the backers of Flash on the TV. Disney CTO Bud Albers said in a statement, "Coming generations of consumers clearly expect to get their content wherever they want on it, on any device, when they want it. This gets us where we want to go."

Adobe is enjoying great success, thanks in part to Flash. Adobe reported income of $871.8 million on revenue of $3.6 billion last year. Flash is now installed on 98% of all computers and 80% of web videos viewed use Flash technology. The firm makes money by selling software that allows media creators to build Flash applications and video.

Adobe also says that Flash was installed on 40% of all phones shipped last year, with a notable hold out being Apple. Apple says that Flash requires too much processing power and reduces battery life too much. Adobe plans to increase that 40% figure on phones and recently removed licensing fees associated with using Flash. Intel and Adobe are working together to bring Flash to Blu-ray players already.

With the proliferation of TVs on the market, adding support for Flash could be a way to differentiate TVs from other products for some manufacturers. Michael Gartenberg from Interpret LLC told the New York Times, "It’s hard to differentiate TVs these days. They’ve gotten about as big and thin as you can get them. This idea of being able to standardize on Flash-based content across devices and platforms will be something TV vendors can get excited about because it will distinguish their products."

Microsoft is pushing a Flash alternative called Silverlight that it claims has better support for HD 1080p video content. Microsoft believes that HD capability is paramount for a format that is standard for video on TV. Microsoft's Brad Becker said, "I can’t imagine what could be more important on a television than high video quality." Becker is a former Adobe executive.

Analyst Josh Martin from the Yankee Group said, "There hasn’t been a true competitor to Adobe for quite some time and Microsoft could potentially start bridging the gap between the PC and the TV even more effectively. Maybe they could start putting out some of the fire that Adobe has long held."

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