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Flash Video Takes a Front Seat

Macromedia announced a new kit that simplifies the way professional developers add video to their Web sites.

The addition is another attempt by the San Francisco-based Web graphics software maker to streamline its core Flash offerings and find new audiences of developers. With the increased number of broadband users, the company said it sees real momentum for its products, considering the video is viewable using a simple Flash player.

"We are seeing a real explosion of video on the Web," Greg Stern, Macromedia vice president of developer relations, said in a statement.

In a recent survey of Web professionals, Macromedia found the majority are already planning to add video to their sites: 70 percent want to use Dreamweaver to embed Flash video on the sites, and 74 percent want to build interactive video applications with Flash MX Professional 2004.

"The demand for streaming media on the web, including video, is growing by leaps and bounds, and companies or technologies that reduce the technical hurdles to implementation and distribution will have an ongoing advantage," AccuStream iMedia Research director Paul Paulumbo said.

The new kit includes four components: a Flash Video extension for Macromedia's Dreamweaver platform; a special version of Sorenson Squeeze that converts common video file formats into Flash Video format (FLV); a free 15-day trial of the Flash Video Streaming Service powered by content delivery provider VitalStream; and an introductory guide to deploying video online. Existing Studio MX 2004 with Flash Professional customers can purchase the upgrade with additional upgrade options also available.

Macromedia said it is also offering its Flash Video Streaming Service Lite powered by VitalStream as a subset of Macromedia's full Flash Video Streaming Service. The package also includes interactive real-time reports for monitoring audience viewing habits and media popularity. The Lite service is designed specifically for use with Dreamweaver.

Macromedia said the Flash video is gaining popularity with some very large players including athletic shoe maker Adidas, cable television station Discovery Channel, and hosted applications provider Salesforce.com.

"The immersive nature of Flash video means that prospective customers are watching more videos, staying on the site much longer, and most importantly getting much more information than they ever did with our HTML tour," Salesforce.com director of marketing services Matt Stodolnic said in a statement.