The Flash video ecosystem has has become the most widely deployed platform for streaming video on the Web. Video sharing sites, news organizations, governments, institutions and many others use the platform. Most of Adobe’s installed base, some 80 percent, are using Flash 8 and/or 9.
Beginning this year, Flash 8 and 9 files will be transcoded for streaming video to mobile devices. News of this development was just announced at 3GSM World Congress, the huge wireless industry trade show in Barcelona.
The technology has been created by On2 Technologies, a video compression company based in the U.S. The company’s video compression technology is licensed to Adobe for use in Flash 8 and 9. The video compression software is also sold directly to content developers and video sharing sites.
The new system for wireless transcoding is called Flix Engine 3GPP. It will initially support the H.263 and AMR-NB 3GPP formats. On2 has an exclusive agreement with Adobe to transcode Flash files.
(2/15 Update: I wanted to clarify my use of the term "exclusive" in the preceding sentence. Adobe has granted On2 the right to transcode Flash files. On2 understands it is the only company currently marketing this technology.)
Content developers and carriers will have the ability to transcode Flash files and make them available directly to wireless users.
The system provides compression of video files, making them as little as one quarter the size of the original files. Making video files smaller is of crucial interest to wireless carriers, many who are daunted by the expected bandwidth demands of streaming video.
Bill Joll, On2’s CEO visited Beet.TV on Thursday to explain this and share a demo. Bill and his crew are now in Spain.
So, what is the significance of this? Perhaps it is an important step in unlocking the "walled garden" of proprietary video streaming systems of mobile phone carriers. I spoke with Engadget’s editor Peter Rojas on this topic a few weeks ago.
Note: YouTube uses Flash 7 and news of Verizon’s distribution of some YouTube clips to mobile devices is unrelated to this development.
Update on Monday: In a separate development, Adobe has just announced a mobile version of its Flash technology called Flash Lite.
Here’s the location of the 3GSM meeting in Barcelona. The giant trade show begins tomorrow. There’s already a torrent of news about wireless video from the show.
(Coming Clean: On2 Technologies is a client of Plesser Holland, the public relations firm that publishes Beet.TV)