Brightcove Attempts to Straddle Front Line in Mobile Video Wars

2/18/10Follow @wroush

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the iPhone, in other words—with all of the advertising, navigation, and others options users would see on a desktop Web browser still intact.

Of course, the Flash experience won’t work on Apple devices, but “we have another solution for that,” Whatcott says. It’s an early version of a player that will transcode Brightcove customers’ videos into the H.264 format for display on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad—but without the advertising or security features built into Brightcove’s flagship player. Whatcott admits it’s not an ideal solution, but he says Brightcove is aware that it can’t ride the Flash horse exclusively forever, and that it wants to be a “one-stop shop” for video publishers, despite the fragmented nature of the mobile device market.

Here’s an edited rundown of my conversation with Whatcott.

Xconomy: Walk me through the main points of your announcement about Brightcove support for Flash 10.1.

Jeff Whatcott: On the desktop, Flash is there, and not only can you play video, but the other details that go on behind the scenes are there to make it a great business—security, subtitling, advertising, analytics, social sharing, calls to action. But until recently, mobile devices had no support for Flash, so people [using phones] haven’t been able to see 75 percent of the videos on the Web. What we’re doing and Adobe is doing is making that rich video experience come to smartphone devices as well. We’re closing the gap between what customers expect and what the default experience might be right now.

If you go to a Web page today that has a Brightcove player in it, the encoding may be optimized for broadband, and the frame rate and the size of the video may be a lot larger than the screen [of your mobile device] can show. The button to play the video may be so small that you can’t even press it without zooming in. With the new solution in place, those problems are solved. The Mobile Experience with Flash Player 10.1 includes three things: a mobile-optimized player template that is specially designed for mobile screen sizes and interaction models; the ability to automatically detect which devices the consumer is accessing with; and mobile-ready transcoding of the video itself, so that the size and the dimensions of the video are optimized for the device.

X: You’re saying that if somebody is browsing the Web from a mobile device, Flash-based videos will be optimized on the fly for whatever type of phone they have?

JW: Exactly. When you browse to a page, what’s going to happen is that you are going to come to a page with a Brightcove embedded video, and the embed logic of that page is going to be intelligent, so that when the page is loaded, it can say, … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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