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Sorenson advances on video codec market

Big deal with Macromedia

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

While Sorenson Media Inc may not be the best-known video software company out there, pretty soon its codecs are likely to be playable on more desktops than those from Microsoft Corp and RealNetworks Inc.

When Macromedia Inc started shipping Flash Player 6 on Friday, it came with 70k of decompression code, custom-built by Sorenson for the company. Developers will be able to use Flash MX, also released Friday, to build streaming video directly into their Flash interfaces.

"We have actually hit paydirt with this deal," said Sorenson VP of sales and marketing Ed McGarr. "Pretty much the de facto standard video format is going to be Flash, and we're the video codec behind Flash."

Macromedia claims to have a 98% penetration of worldwide desktops for Flash, some 434 million potential users. This number is quite a lot larger than the 250 million worldwide desktops that have a RealNetworks media player installed.

For Sorenson, the instant audience is hoped to translate into sales of its development tools. Flash MX comes with basic video creation software, but encourages upgrading, for $299, to Sorenson's professional edition toolkit.

McGarr said that if only half of Flash's 1.2 million developers pay up for Sorenson's Squeeze, which allows contains extra video manipulation features including two-pass variable bit rate encoding and some high-end filters, he'll be quite happy.

Looking forward, Macromedia' expansion into post-PC devices could make Sorenson's codec even more widely used. Macromedia has spent the last year or so striking bundling deals for its player with set-top and handheld device manufacturers.

Last week, the company announced a deal to have Flash Player 5 bundled with all forthcoming Nokia Corp 9200-series PDA/phones, where, admittedly, RealNetworks's software will have a stronger presence, and hinted that the relationship could be expanded in future.

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