Akamai is preparing the ground for what could emerge to be an avalanche of HD video content streamed directly to an iPhone, as it beefs up its international content delivery infrastructure for provision of HD video services.

We’re also wondering if support for iPhone will lead to easier access to live and on-demand online video content for other Apple devices, such as the Apple TV, which some say may proffer a Web browser designed to enable easy access to video content found online. But that’s just speculation.

What isn’t speculative is Akamai’s news. Apple and Akamai have held a relationship for close to a decade now, with the Web infrastructure firm enabling Apple’s Web properties to be internationally available without lag. Particularly iTunes.

The Akamai HD Network is a system for streaming high-definition live and on-demand video to a variety of devices. It will enable content and service providers offer online video that matches the traditional TV and DVR (digital video recorder) experience through buffering, adapting to network and processing speeds along with all-new features for navigating the content, Akamai said.

Video lovers will be able to watch HD Network content on computers in the Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight formats, but also on the iPhone, said Akamai President and CEO Paul Sagan.

Attempting to deliver high bitrate HD files can create long buffering delays, slow start-up times, and frequent interruptions. Because the Akamai HD Network chooses the optimal bitrate for delivery – it is faster and more consistent than any other network. With fully integrated DVR capabilities for live video across Flash, Silverlight, and the iPhone, the Akamai HD Network enables a personalized and interactive experience that matches HDTV.

As proof of concept, Akamai has made a live broadcast of its press announcement of the new service available in multiple formats, including Flash, Silverlight – and iPhone. Go test the iPhone stream right now, if you like…

The Akamai HD Network is a streaming platform that leverages the following functionalities:

– Adaptive Bitrate Streaming
Unique network and player streaming process that is designed to enable uninterrupted playback at HD bitrates that seamlessly adjusts to fluctuations in available bandwidth to provide the best quality possible for each user

– Instant Response
Immediate response to viewer interactions with the video player, including sub-second time-shifting (such as pause, rewind, seek and play commands) video startup times, and seamless stream switching
– HD Video Player
Open, standards-based video player for faster time to market
– HD Player Authentication
Authenticates player for all three environments ensuring only authorized players access content.

"Seeing is believing," said Paul Sagan, President and CEO, Akamai. "With the Akamai HD Network, we are revolutionizing the way content traverses the Internet with a new approach to bringing an HDTV-like experience online. We’re entering a different online world, where many content owners and publishers need to deliver HD-quality video to a much wider online audience, with a higher level of interactivity for consumers. Delivering ‘web-quality’ content to ‘web-sized’ audiences is one thing, but delivering HD-quality content to broadcast-scale audiences is another."

We’re wondering if the recent iPhone streamed live Underworld performance may have been a test of concept of Akamai’s new service for iPhone users? We also wonder if we may see live performances at iTunes events streamed live to iPhones in future, such as the coming Glasgow performance by legendary act, Echo and the Bunnymen. Though that’s just deeply idle speculation. Though with Akamai’s service, it is now possible, subject to the caveat of the ‘net neutrality’ debate…

About the Author