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Adobe Joins Media Player War

The beta version of the Flash-based video playback includes a variety of social features such as the ability to comment on, tag, rate, and share videos with friends.

In the fight between Apple, Microsoft, and just about every other media company for control of online video distribution, Adobe aims to win by not competing.

"We're not trying to become a media company," said Craig Baberich, group product manager for Adobe's Dynamic Media Organization. "We're more a Switzerland."

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show on Monday, Adobe intends to make a more formal declaration of neutrality. It plans to announce its new Adobe Media Player, a Flash-based media player that works online and offline, without a Web browser.

"We wanted to extend the browser eco-system to the desktop and provide new tools to media companies and consumers, to be social with the content," said Baberich.

The Adobe Media Player, which is being previewed at NAB in preparation for a late spring beta release, offers Flash-based video playback in a desktop application. It includes a variety of social features such as the ability to comment on, tag, rate, and share videos with friends. The player also offers show discovery and RSS-based show subscriptions.

The Adobe Media Player is the first commercial application built using Adobe's Apollo rich Internet application (RIA) development platform. It works on Mac OS X and Windows. A Linux version is being developed.

As befits its platform agnosticism, Adobe is preaching brand neutrality. "We believe it should be an open system in which anyone can participate," said Baberich, who contrasts Adobe's approach with the tight control Apple maintains over iTunes. "This is about empowering the eco-system to be successful, not trying to create a proprietary system that controls the business."

Thus, Adobe Media Player lets content publishers determine how they want to "deliver, monetize, brand, track and protect" their content. Publishers can serve ads from ad networks like Atlas, Google, or Yahoo, for example, alongside their content if they choose. And they can control how their brand is presented in the player.

While Adobe doesn't have any media partnerships to announce at this time, Baberich insists 90% of the major media companies are testing Adobe Media Player.

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