Brightcove Chats with TMO about HTML5

Brightcove’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire, chatted with TMO about their work with HTML5 and some high profile customers. Some of the revelations were real eye-openers about the future of HTML5 vs. Flash.

In a separate press release, covered earlier today at TMO, Brightcove announced that they are officially supporting HTML5 video and working with the New York Times and Time Magazine to support video content for iPad users.

On Friday, I had the opportunity to chat with Brightcove’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire and obtain some additional background. Previously, I had written about the “Technology and Politics of HTML5 vs. Flash,” so I was eager to hear about Brightcove’s initiatives.


Jeremy AllaireJeremy Allaire, CEO

For starters, because I had not heard much about the company, I was curious about the affiliation, if any, with Apple. Mr. Allaire assured me that, other than working with Apple as a ordinary developer, there is no other relationship, funding or executive migration between the two companies. The motivation for Brightcove is simply the perceived business opportunity presented by a Flash-free Apple iPhone and iPad.

Curious, I asked if CBS is (or will be) a customer, but Mr Allaire noted that while Brightcove has worked with over 1,300 companies, resulting in over 5,000 Websites, CBS is still planning to roll their own development of HTML5 support for the iPad.

What Brightcove does is to provide a video delivery infrastructure, be it Adobe Flash or HTML5, that Web developers can fold into their Websites. Brightcove doesn’t build the entire Website. Mr. Allaire showed me some slides that describe how more and more companies are depending on a rich video experience that also includes services such as advertising, bandwidth analysis, viewership reporting and so on.

Brightcove 1Emerging Video Services

In terms of comparison to Flash, Mr Allaire noted, “[Adobe] Flash is still a great platform, and we support it, but as the device landscape grows [meaning iPad], there will be a push towards the use of open standards. So HTML5 is simply a business reality for us.”

“In fact, Flash is hardly doomed because the PC world will continue to sustain it. On the Apple Web, however, it will be HTML5.”

Brightcove believes that HTML5 will have technological parity with Flash by the end of 2010 and showed me their Support Roadmap.



Brightcove 2 Brightcove Support Roadmap

Seeing the timeline, I asked if the roadmap might be out of sync with the needs and expectations of the New York Times and Time with regard to advertising needs. “Not at all,” Mr. Allaire said. “There will be a steady ramp up of iPad sales, and, right now, the initial limitations of HTML5 represent a very small percentage of the market for these companies. So they’re not worried about the timing of the roadmap.” I found that to be an eye-opener. Another issue that will need to be solved, in time, is that there is not yet a universally agreed upon and accepted open source protocol for DRM within HTML5.

Mr. Allaire added that Brightcove’s competitors are diverse and none are as big as Brightcove itself. Comcast has “The Platform” and at the entry level there are several smaller startups like Kit Digital and Altura. Mr. Allaire believes that Brightcove, located in Cambridge, MA, is larger than all its competitors combined.

Throughout the interview, I kept wondering how I had heard of Mr. Allaire before. Then Mr. Allaire mentioned his history and that he was the founder of Allaire, Inc, the developer of the Webserver backend database solution called Cold Fusion. That product still exists and is being sold by Adobe. I had used that product, with some affection, when I was at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory back in the early 1990s.

In summary, the expected business opportunities created by Apple, the expected sales of the Apple iPad, present a serious business opportunity for Brightcove to engage customers. I asked if CBS might come around some day. Mr. Allaire surmised that, at some point, CBS might recognize that it’s a major undertaking and expense to develop such expertise in-house. “Who knows? Maybe soon, they’ll come around.”

It’s likely that we’ll continue to hear about customers who decide to jump on the HTML5 and iPhone/iPad bandwagon and engage Brightcove. Market opportunities always seem to drive technology, and Apple has a knack for creating those opportunities.