Thursday, April 1, 2010

The iPad Cometh - The Online Video Industry Gears Up for the Launch

Over the last several months HTML5 and H.264 video have been gaining momentum as an emerging standard for online video, spurred on by the announcement earlier this year of Apple's new iPad. The device will be available to those who pre-ordered early later this week on April 3rd, and new orders will ship in two weeks. It has been touted by Apple as the future model for online publishers, even though like its predecessors the iPod touch and iPhone, it doesn't support Flash. Apple pre-sold 120,000 units on the first day, with 51,000 of them purchased in the first two hours on sale, and analysts predict that 10 million will be sold in 2010.

There has been a great deal of discussion on why Apple chose to exclude Flash, which has been the dominant format for video on the web with Flash Video having approximately 75% market-share for online video. But according to Steve Jobs, Flash is a "CPU Hog" that would drain the iPad's battery and it's "full of security holes". In speaking with the Wall Street Journal he reportedly said, "We don't spend a lot of energy on old technology," and suggested the WSJ to abandon Flash for the H.264 codec.

Jan Ozer though recently disputed the "CPU Hog" comment, and ran a series of tests and found that Flash actually was not a CPU Hog. He noted that Apple blocks Flash from accessing hardware acceleration which helps with efficient video playback. Fair or not, the turf wars wage on with all the big players Apple, Google, Adobe and Microsoft taking sides and looking to expand their market-share. See Tim Siglin's post, Commentary: Working Around the Web, where he provides some great commentary on Apple's "pure HTML" approach vs. Adobe "standards-based" plug-in approach. While Flash is not going away for the foreseeable future, up and down the stack the online video industry is adapting to HTML5 as an emerging standard, and the opportunity that the iPad brings, with a number of announcements made in the last few days.

Brightcove unveiled its new Brightcove Experience for HTML5 -- a framework for publishing and delivering interactive and advertising-supported Web video for HTML5-compatible devices. The platform is available free to Brightcove's more than 1,000 customers and provides support for intelligent device detection, playlist rendering, and transcoding and playback of H.264 video content from Adobe Flash video, analytics tracking, social sharing controls, advertising insertion, and other capabilities. Customers who are using Brightcove's HTML5 solution include Time Inc. and the New York Times (a Brightcove investor).Brightcove says it's platform agnostic and has been supporting HTML5 and H.264 since 2008.

Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove chairman and chief executive officer said:
"The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 fills the gap between the current playback capabilities of the emerging standard and what our customers need to operate successful online video businesses."
A few days prior, Brightcove rival Ooyala announced that it will support full video delivery to iPad when it launches on April 3rd. For over a year, Ooyala has had iPhone support in the form of an intelligent video embed lets the Ooyala player automatically recognize each device and adjust video quality and format for the best possible viewing experience.

According to Bismarck Lepe, President of Product:
"The iPad is more than just another connected device. It's an innovation that will drive new ideas in portability and personalized media."
Kyte announced an iPad SDK and HTML5 support for developing Kyte-powered iPad apps for distribution through the Apple iTunes App Store, as well as web-based support for the iPad through a new, universal embed code that outputs HTML5 video. The new SDK and HTML5 support provides customers with the flexibility and choice to build native iPad applications, or extend compatibility of their new or existing Kyte-powered websites to the iPad.

Gannon Hall, COO, Kyte said:
"Representing the next phase in media delivery and Internet connected devices, the iPad is a platform every video publisher needs to plan for," "Kyte has long been focused on delivering innovative, forward looking functionality that gives video publishers the ability to reach and engage audiences no matter where they are. Our support for HTML5 and our release of an SDK for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch is the next step in this progression."
Like Ooyala and Kyte, Delve Networks announced that it too will support full video delivery to iPad when the tablet device launches. Customers will be able to content for their iPad readers using the same easy-to-use Delve video platform where they currently manage their website videos., one of the companies in particular best suited to cash-in on the need for HTML5 video transcoding services. today announced support for HTTP Live Streaming for Apple's iPhone, iPod touch, and the soon to be released iPad mobile devices. HTTP streaming enables publishers to provide users with a better video experience by continuously adapting the video stream in real-time to match the user's available bandwidth. President Jeff Malkin told FierceOnlineVideo:
"The Codec format war that's been brewing between apple, Google, and Flash and all of that together has created a perfect storm for a business like ours where we're automating a very complex process and taking it off the plates of our clients. We're making it simple for our customers and, timing-wise, our new service couldn't be better situated
Limelight Networks announced it will support rich media content delivery to the iPad on day one of the product availability. Customers of the Limelight REACH and Limelight ADS services will automatically have their mobile distribution and monetization services updated for the new device, enabling them to present a brilliant and properly formatted media experience to purchasers of the widely anticipated tablet.
"We will be formatting content for the best playback experience on those shiny new Apple toys. And the best part? We’re not reinventing the wheel here or coming up with a new application just for the iPad launch. Our existing technology and infrastructure is specifically designed to adapt content for delivery to any new devices that pop up. Our targeted delivery profiles change, but the process stays the same. Which means we’ve got you covered not only for the Apple iPad, but also for whatever product launch event comes next." - Apple iPad – We’ve Got You Covered, The Limelight blog
Rounding out the announcements is MeFeedia with its HTML5 video pre-roll solution. Currenty, the All Player™ platform powers over 50 million monthly video ads across web and mobile devices (including where flash is not supported) and can show video ads to any browser that supports HTML5 natively.

Look for more announcements in the days to come as well as more on the format wars. In particular, the tensions have also been building between Apple and Google, and Google fired back the other day with the announcement that their Chrome browser will ship with an integrated Flash Player plug-in.