Back in October, Abobe announced a really long list of new functionality that would be supported in Flash Player 10.1, due out sometime this year. One of those features would be the long awaited support for multicasting that is essential to the way many enterprise organizations deliver video. While music, movies and game content delivered over CDNs in a unicast model still gets all the press, many Fortune 500 corporations delivering video inside their firewall have been relying on multicasting for years to support really large audiences.
One of the main reasons Microsoft still dominates the enterprise and government markets is due to their long history of having multicasting functionality. Two years ago I wrote a post talking about how I was seeing Adobe trying to push into the enterprise market to displace Microsoft, but without multicasting support in Flash, their success in the enterprise market has been limited.
Last week, I had the chance to speak to a few content owners who have been testing the multicasting capabilities in Flash and from other industry people I have spoken to, Adobe pretty much has it ready to go. The exact date Adobe plans to announce multicasting support is still unknown, but since Flash Player 10.1 is expected to be out in the first half of this year, we should expect to see multicasting support available sometime in the next three months.
Once that happens, it will be interesting to see how Adobe targets the enterprise vertical and if they can take any share away from Microsoft. Multicasting support will be a big step for Adobe, but their success is also going to come to down to their server licensing model and whether or not they make it cheap enough for a company to deploy. If Adobe thinks they can keep the licensing costs high just because they are selling into a "enterprise" company, that would be a big mistake since all Fortune 500 corporations are trying to do more with less. Functionality and features are important, but Flash will only just be catching up to Microsoft, no surpassing them with multicasting, so customers won't pay more for functionality they have already had.