Rob Abbott tells me that he would train for the Boston Marathon differently than he did for the 2007 Miami Marathon. Why you ask? Because, the conditions are different and require totally different preparations for the runner. The Boston one is obviously/usually colder, while the Miami race is almost completely flat.
In reading the amazing account of Silverlight on Techrunch today, it became a little easier for me to grasp what Microsoft’s new media player really is. I really liked what I read. It confirmed a suspicion I had that Microsoft with Silverlight may actually be traveling a different, and somewhat opposite path to that of Adobe.
Let’s dispense first with the commonalities. The streaming media capability is something both players share. Flash dominates with video, and no one can deny that this seemingly accidental Trojan horse feature of Flash has probably increased the distribution of the player more than anything else. When Adobe bought Macromedia, I knew video was probably the biggest asset from the Macromedia/Flash side. Looking at the details for CS3 Production Premium, seeing Premiere, AfterEffects and Flash bundled together, I see the reality of the merger.
Microsoft wants and needs to be in this market. Video on the web, and more specifically within the browser, is a key (as in one of the most important) piece of the present and future of advertising. That’s why, with Silverlight, they’ve switched the batting order around a bit. Their Barry Bonds-of-a-feature, this free media/video hosting service, is brilliant. It competes with Flash Video and Google’s YouTube in a single swing.
Reality has to start setting in here. Flash Player 9 lives and breathes (as of March 2007) on 84% of desktops. And while you may argue that if FP9 can spread that fast by 9 months, won’t Silverlight do the same? NO. Flash Player 9 spread that quickly because 80%+ of desktops already had Flash Player 8, and 90%+ of desktops already had Flash Player 7, and so on, and so on. That’s more than just browser plug-in legacy, that’s immortality.
Here’s my prediction: Look for Adobe to survive and thrive by buddy-ing up further with Firefox and making more than just friends with Apple. And as for Microsoft, I can tell you that readers of this blog are still using IE about 2-to-1 over Firefox. If Microsoft ever flicks their magic switch and includes Silverlight in IE, there could be some actual competition here.
(That reminds me, to the one visitor of this blog reading it from a Playstation Portable browser, remember to wear two pairs of gloves when you’re in the Rockies.)