New TVs may make Flash the MP3 of digital video

Flash to hit lounge rooms with Flash-enabled televisions

Flash, the technology used by YouTube to stream video clips into your browser window, is now installed on 98 percent of all computers, according to Adobe Systems, which acquired the technology in 2005. The company also says that about 80 percent of Web videos are viewed using Flash. If those stats are accurate, they make a solid case for building Flash into living-room televisions. A New York Times report said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen was to announce the details on upcoming Flash-enabled televisions Monday at the high-profile National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.

A few years ago, it would have been hard to find a Web technologist who would predict that Flash would still be around in 2010. Flash was best known for its use in gratuitous website splash pages that flattered site owners' egos but made exasperated Web surfers reach for their back buttons. A Flash parody site, Skip Intro, captured the moment in time.

But when YouTube launched in early 2005, Flash browser add-ons suddenly went from an unwanted annoyance to a must-have accessory. The only way to watch YouTube was to install Flash. YouTube drove Flash adoption, which drove other online video creators to deliver their clips via Flash. Adobe makes its money selling software to create and serve Flash content.

Narayen told the Times that Adobe has set up partnerships with Intel, Comcast, Netflix and set-top box maker Broadcom to build and deliver Flash capability for home TV watchers. That lineup sounds impressive, but it doesn't include Sony and Samsung, two top TV makers.

Besides Flash TV sets, Narayen talked up Flash-enabled cellphones to the Times. Those would make it easy for video makers to serve the same content to computers, phones and living-room screens. Apple and other smartphone makers have balked at supporting Flash, in part because handsets still lack the processing power and battery life to handle it.

Still, it seems inevitable that Internet video will be watchable on any device with a screen. Companies that sell or deliver video won't want to support multiple formats. Competing technologies to Flash, such as Microsoft's Silverlight and Apple's QuickTime, claim better video quality and other advantages. But Flash's ubiquity may make it the MP3 of Internet video -- it's less than perfect, but it plays.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Boutin

The Industry Standard
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?