Like many Hollywood actors longing to direct, Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE ) has its heart set on a bigger role in the "clip culture" moving picture. The company introduced the Adobe Media Player yesterday, jumping into the crowded platform battle that already stars Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK ) , and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) as marquee standards.
Adobe feels that it has a shot. When it acquired Macromedia two years ago, it took over the popular Flash architecture. Flash has been the conversion format of choice for multimedia websites, rich media ads, and video-sharing sites like Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) YouTube, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , and Microsoft's Soapbox.
Naturally, this raises the possibility that a challenged Microsoft may back off on its Flash support. The last thing it wants to do is give Adobe even more leverage. Mr. Softy also has its sights set on ultimately replacing the Adobe PDF publishing standard with its own homegrown solution, so this battle was going to intensify anyway. Surely enough, Microsoft also debuted Silverlight -- an alternative to Flash -- yesterday.
However, that same leverage is why we can't dismiss the chances of the Adobe Media Player. The new program offers higher-quality Flash playback (online and offline), full-screen playback, and viewer rating tools, as well as a TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) -like feature allowing it to automatically download new episodes of favorite television shows and podcasts.
On the publishing side, the player offers better opportunities for content tracking and monetization. Sure, it's a crowded field, but Adobe is a trusted brand with popular applications and a high-traffic downloading center.
In short, watching video on your computer is about to get even more interesting. And for those longing to see Microsoft and Adobe duke it out, we may be heading for a fight that could make the 300 battle scenes seem like an inconsequential sandlot skirmish.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if a sequel to 300 would be entitled Zero. He does own shares in TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.