Adobe releases Media Player beta, boosts SaaS

Companies line up to offer content, but WMV, MOV files not supported

Both Adobe and Microsoft offer design and developer tools for building RIAs and are building those tools to make the relationship between designers and developers more seamless. They are also trying to create tools that lead to a similar user experience both offline and online.

With its Media Player, Adobe is entering a crowded field: Windows Media Player is the most popular, according to Chris Swenson, an analyst with NPD Group, though Apple's QuickTime and RealNetworks' RealPlayer also boast tens of millions of users.

Adobe's advantage is that while other players can play Flash videos, they generally require that users download and install special codec files.

On the other hand, Adobe has no plans at this time to enable its player to view non-Flash videos, such as Windows Media Video (WMV) or QuickTime Movie (MOV) files, Taylor said. Moreover, Adobe has inked no formal alliances with YouTube or its parent, Google. Nor does it yet have any agreements yet to bundle the Media Player onto smartphone or mobile phone handsets, Taylor said.

Swenson said that could hurt Adobe Media Player's uptake.

"Right now, it looks less like something that will take over the world right away, than a great proof-of-concept" for Adobe's rich Internet application toolset, Flex, he said.

Moreover, social features already previewed by Adobe such as tagging and rating of videos won't be in the player's first release, Taylor said.

Adobe is battling Microsoft on several fronts as it tries to move further into the market for worker collaboration tools, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses that don't have the budget or IT team to purchase and install complex collaboration software, Webster said.

Buzzword is a step forward in this strategy, joining tools like Adobe Acrobat Connect, a Web conferencing application. According to Rick Treitman, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Virtual Ubiquity, the software offers "page-perfect rendering" of documents, which are editable by multiple users and are stored in the firm's databases but can be exported today to rich-text format (RTF) or Word documents.

Support for Portable Document Format (PDF) and OpenDocument Format (ODF) standards are also on the horizon.

Buzzword and Share will both "always be free," Larson said. They represent Adobe's plan to provide more software as a service (SAAS), IDC's Webster said. This is another area where Adobe plans to gear up against not only Microsoft but Google. "I don't think we've seen the full Adobe footprint here," Webster said. "I think we'll see a growing portfolio of different services and capabilities. ...Right now it's just the beginning."

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