Macromedia Extends Flash Show

Macromedia is expanding the reach and impact of
its Flash empire with the help of Akamai Technologies .

The two companies launched an on-demand Flash streaming media service
this week based on Macromedia Flash Communication Server software and
Akamai’s EdgePlatform. The partnership is designed to help companies
liven up their Web sites with Flash-based content like product
demonstrations, corporate announcements and sales training.

Macromedia said it will market the new service to media
and ad-serving companies, as well as news agencies. Because video is
just another object in Flash, Macromedia said the content can be custom-branded, as well as synchronized with other elements on the Web page,
such as graphs, charts, text and other audio and video streams.

“Flash is designed to stimulate more engagement with the content
stream, which implies greater value,” Paul Palumbo, a research director
at AccuStream iMedia Research, said.

Macromedia claims Flash video is a better end-user
experience than other media formats, because it allows for interaction with the content and has the ability to synchronize the video to other site elements, as well as playback within a browser.

Akamai is Macromedia’s largest content delivery partner to date and
builds on Macromedia’s arsenal of contracts with Mirror Image, Speedera
and VitalStream. Akamai is also no stranger to delivering Flash content.
On any given day, the company said it serves several gigabits per second
of downloadable Flash content, including several hundreds of megabits
per second of Flash video traffic.

“Akamai experienced a more than 200 percent increase in total content
streamed across its global platform in 2004, and has seen significant
adoption in the industries of sports, news, music, and movies,” George
Khater, senior director of product management at Akamai, said in a
statement. “Adoption is only going to continue to increase with the
growth in these industries, and this service is an incredible tool to
bring reliable delivery of key events to these companies.”

Akamai said its progressive downloads require Flash Player 7 on the
desktop, whereas Flash streaming is supported by Flash Player 6 and 7.

“Since Flash Player 7 is only on 70 percent of desktops in the U.S.
as of September, as compared to the presence of Flash Player 6 on more
than 90 percent of desktops, Akamai’s streaming service for use with
Macromedia’s Flash service is supported by more end-users,” Akamai said
in its presentation materials.

However, the company points out that the advantage will eventually even out, as Flash Player 7 reaches similar adoption levels to Flash Player 6.

In addition to delivering the streaming services, Akamai said it is
also offering storage options for Flash media to improve the
availability of media to end users. The Boston-based content provider
said it can also offer customizable, Web-based reporting tools designed
to analyze both real-time and historical analysis of viewer usage and
behavior of the Flash user.

The Akamai/Macromedia on-demand Flash Streaming media service starts
at $2,000 with customizable packages available depending on how much
traffic travels over the network.

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