Adobe this morning slashed the price of its Flash Media Server, making the system compatible with additional movie codecs and potentially opening the floodgates to making more video content available online.

Adobe announced that its latest Adobe Flash Media Server 3 family of products will ship in January, and made the latest version of the client software, Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3, available with immediate effect.

Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3 software, previously code named Moviestar now includes H.264 standard video support, the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high definition video players, and HE-AAC audio capabilities.

Since H.264 and HE-AAC are open industry standards and already integrated into existing authoring and publishing workflows, content producers can use their existing H.264 material for playback in Adobe Flash Player.

The latest update to Flash Player also features hardware accelerated, multi-core enhanced, full-screen video playback for high-resolution viewing across major operating systems and browsers.

Adobe Flash Media Server 3 offers streaming media and real-time communication capabilities to a variety of computer platforms. New codecs include support for the industry standard H.264 (potentially meaning Flash will be made available for the iPhone and Apple TV, which also both support H.264) and High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio support.

In keeping with the desire for a secure manner in which to distribute media assets, Adobe Flash Media Server 3 also offers content owners increased protection for streaming high quality video and allows for the delivery of interactive media applications that work consistently across multiple browsers and operating systems.

The new Flash Media Server range comprises: Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3 for live and on- demand video streaming and Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server 3 for customized scalable video streaming services, plus multi-way social media applications.

“Adobe’s award-winning Flash technology is driving the shift from traditional media consumption to engaging interactive experiences,” said John Loiacono, senior vice president of Creative Solutions at Adobe. “By offering the Flash Media Server 3 product line coupled with new pricing options, Adobe is reducing the barrier to entry for content owners who want to deliver streaming video or real-time communications online.”

Both the live streaming and video streaming on-demand products deliver new features for media publishers, including: nearly double the amount of streams per server; support for industry standard codecs; upgrades to Adobe’s patented protocol for delivering protected content; and enhanced live video support for news, concerts, sporting events and social media services. In addition, Adobe Flash Media Server 3 supports both pre-recorded and live streaming to Adobe Flash Lite 3 which ensures the same video experience on mobile devices.

"With a complete end-to-end workflow, Adobe's video solutions have transformed our creation to delivery model," said Erik Huggers, BBC future media and technology group controller. "With advancements in performance and protection, Flash Media Server 3 provides the BBC with flexible new ways to deliver streaming media on as many platforms as possible. We're delighted to collaborate with Adobe and deliver more secure instant-on programming to our audience, via BBC iPlayer."

“Adobe Flash technology has been a major force behind Internet TV as we know it, bringing viewers instant-on, engaging experiences,” said Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect for Adobe. “The inclusion of industry standard H.264 support ... brings new HD capabilities to millions of Flash developers and a new generation of viewers who are turning to the web as the place to find their favourite shows and video content.”

Adobe Flash Media Server 3 is expected to be available in January 2008 and will ship with special pre-built services making it easier to stream Flash Player compatible video. Adobe Flash Media Interactive Server 3 will be offered at $4,500. For single-server deployments, Adobe Flash Media Streaming Server 3 will be available at $995.

Adobe Flash Player 9 Update 3 is available now for free download.