Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM, news, filings) had promised an announcement today regarding a new strategic direction for video delivery. And what did it turn out to be? Why the Akamai HD Network of course! The new platform is billed as "the first platform to deliver HD video online to viewers using Adobe Flash technology, Microsoft Silverlight, and to the iPhone, at broadcast-level audience scale." In other words, they've rolled out the infrastructure to support HD streaming across most of their worldwide network of some 50,000 servers.
It raises the stakes for smaller CDNs still looking for scale and profits, and it emphasizes the never-ending treadmill of upgrades and new platforms they may need to keep up with to stay in the game. However, not to minimize the next generation platform which appears to be ultra-cool (waiting for the demo at 1pm though), but I guess I was expecting a "new strategic direction" to be a bit more - shall we say - dramatic? It's not as if we haven't been watching video roll onto the internet steadily and mercilessly for some time... We've been building toward this point for how many years? Ah well, the more bandwidth the better!
Err, at least if you're not sitting on the wrong end of the proposed network neutrality rules, in which case maybe all that potential over-the-top HD video makes you feel a bit queasy. If this month the FCC passes something similar to what has been proposed, which seems rather likely, I do wonder whether we may see a large surge in announcements of similar bandwidth burning plans from the content and CDN sphere. The possibility of having one's traffic shaped may have kept some plans in stealth mode that now the coast may be clear.
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