Adobe courts IPTV with media player

I've been playing around with the new Adobe Media Player (AMP), which made its way out of Adobe Labs to receive a formal 1.0 release Wednesday. It's an interesting entry into the fast-moving market for streaming digital media, and definitely something to watch (no pun intended).

My initial reaction was: Why do we need another media player now? We already have Windows Media Player, QuickTime Player, Real Player, and a host of freeware alternatives. What could Adobe possibly add to the mix that we don't have already? But AMP is different from any of these. To call it simply a media player belies the true nature of the product; rather, AMP is a full-fledged attempt to offer a kiosk-style interface for browsing and streaming digital TV to your PC desktop. With this product, Adobe is definitely thinking outside the cable box.

Our colleagues over at MacWorld took AMP through its paces on Wednesday, so I'll spare you the nitty-gritty details. Suffice it to say that AMP lets you browse through various "channels" of content and stream professional-looking video from a number of providers, from MTV, to the Food Network, to PBS. As others have noted, the selection is pretty slim so far, but you can expect Adobe to actively recruit new content partners as the product matures.

One interesting thing about AMP is that it's an Adobe AIR application. AIR is Adobe's runtime system that lets developers build slick-looking desktop applications using the same technologies they use to build Web applications – HTML, JavaScript, and Flash.

As a showcase for AIR, the AMP application is impressive. It definitely feels like desktop software, not a cobbled-together Flash gizmo. At the same time, this may be AMP's biggest weakness. Being Flash-based means AMP can only access video formats that are supported by Flash. You can add your own videos to the AMP catalogue, but only if they're FLV, MP4, or QuickTime format – your existing AVIs and XviD files won't work.

This could be a problem for Adobe, because more flexible alternatives already exist. Miro, for example, is a similar Internet TV application that is somewhat more flexible. It's open source, supports a wider range of video codecs than AMP, and allows you to browse video "channels" based on RSS feeds. What's more, because it's based on user interface code from Mozilla, Miro is actually more cross-platform than AMP. (Although an Alpha version of Adobe AIR is available for Linux, Adobe isn't letting Linux users download AMP at this time; presumably it wouldn't work if they did.)

The way I see it, AMP's success ultimately depends on two things. First, Adobe has to secure enough content to make downloading and using its Media Player worthwhile. That puts it in competition with Google, which arguably has the leading online video property right now in YouTube.

Second, Adobe is gambling that your average TV viewers will warm up to the idea of watching their favourite shows on their PCs. That's the part I'm not so sure about. In this age of giant-screen LCD TVs and high-definition video on the one hand, and video iPods on the other, I have a feeling that Adobe might be a little too late to the party. Most folks want to veg out on their couches, not at their desks. Convincing them otherwise may be Adobe's biggest challenge.

But who knows? I could be wrong.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Neil McAllister

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?