Flash Media Server 4.5

Worst headline of the day has to be this one at BGR: “Adobe Finally Brings Flash to iPhone and iPad”. That’s completely backwards. What Adobe announced:

With Adobe Flash Media Server 4.5, media publishers now have a single, simple workflow for delivering content using the same stream to Flash-enabled devices or to the Apple iPhone and iPad,” Adobe said in a statement. Flash Media Server 4.5 allows publishers to stream Flash content to iOS devices, which means support within the iOS Safari browser is not required. Instead of relying on a device’s processor to render the stream, which often degrades battery life and slows a device down, Adobe’s Flash Media Server 4.5 does all the legwork.

Translation: FMS 4.5 will send HTML5 video to iOS devices, and send Flash Player-wrapped video to other devices. This is Adobe blinking, acknowledging that iOS will never support Flash Player, and is too big a market for video publishers to ignore.

This is the wrong approach for video publishers to take, though. They should be sending HTML5/H.264 video to any user agent that supports it, and only falling back to Flash Player for user agents that don’t support HTML5 and H.264. Flash Player should be the fallback exception, not the other way around. E.g., a factory-fresh Mac running Safari could be supported the same way iOS devices are, but instead, FMS will insist on using Flash Player, and instead of being shown video, the user will be told to go install Flash Player.

Friday, 9 September 2011