Planet Online has launched an Internet audio and video streaming service which, unlike Real Networks' Real Player and Apple's Quicktime, plays video within the browser without the need for plug-ins.
The UK-based subsidiary of Energis said anyone with at least a 33Kbps modem and recent Netscape or Microsoft Web browser will be able to watch and listen to streamed content. The system works on both Windows and Mac.
Planet's system uses the proprietary Emblaze technology designed by GEO Interactive Media, which has adapted software algorithms originally developed by the Israeli military. Planet has the rights to sell and market Emblaze in Europe.
Real Networks dominates the market for media players thanks to its early entry into the market. Earlier this year Apple attempted to catch up by hosting Quicktime-only previews of last summer's Star Wars sequel on its website. Planet believes it can bypass such battles.
Planet's sales and marketing director, Andy Irvine, said the system works by downloading a small Java applet media player from the server whenever a client clicks on a Web page icon for video content. "The applet takes 10 seconds maximum and usually around four seconds to download before it is ready to start receiving streamed content," he claimed.
Once a link has been clicked on to activate video content, a second window immediately appears to host the video, which typically appears in a box on screen which can be up to 4in by 4in.
According to Irvine, Planet's service has two main attractions: "Not only does a content provider not have to worry about whether their target market is using Real Networks or, say, Quicktime, but the client isn't discouraged from watching a video clip by the prospect of having to wait for a bulky download of a media player they don't already have installed."
As with Real Player clients can only watch streamed content. They can't download it for later use, unless given specific permission by the content provider.
Video samples using Emblaze technology can be accessed at the www.emblaze.com website.
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