SPOTLIGHT: Innovation of the Week: HD video on the Web

This week's Innovation of the Week is an application innovation that focuses on a new strategic use of existing high-definition TV and video technology for Internet distribution. Telcos have long been keeping pace with the emergence of HDTV and the H.264/MPEG-4 industry standard. H.264/MPEG-4 gear is now becoming much more widely available, and to this point, it looked like HD video could be something of an edge for aggressive telcos offering IPTV. However, adoption of H.264/MPEG-4 by Web players--most recently by Adobe Systems for its Flash Player--means that HD video will become much more common on the Web, too. Also, content delivery network operators such as Akamai, Limelight Networks, CacheLogic, Pando and others are complying with MPEG-4 and other HD requirements, as well as upgrading their architectures with new mechanisms to support reliable delivery of HD video on the Web.

It remains to be seen how much of the Web-based video movement is fad, and how much some content and usage trends can translate to long-lived business models. But, regardless, the pressure is on content delivery networks and other Web video enablers to upgrade the online video experience to something closer to an HDTV experience. A quick payoff could come if major TV networks and studios already offering some programming online continue to increase their offerings and promote video quality as part of that. But a higher-quality video experience online also could compete with what telcos are offering via IPTV--unless telcos make more room for Web-based video in their services. This blog posting by an Adobe Flash Player engineer explains the company's announcement, as well as this story in Telephony.