It was a metaphorical swing and a miss that evidently gave Adobe a win over Microsoft this week.
No, it’s not the boys of summer playing exhibition games in the off season. Instead, Major League Baseball’s online technology arm, MLB Advanced Media, announced Monday that it is dropping the use of Microsoft’s Silverlight in favor of Adobe’s Flash player for streaming games and on-demand content via the Web.
The move is a setback for Microsoft’s Silverlight, which the company hopes will displace Flash on users’ desktops. In this case, Flash has won a two-year contract (albeit non-exclusive) to provide streaming of baseball content beginning with 2009 spring training – a gig that Silverlight had but lost.
Both Flash and Silverlight provide platforms for streaming media content across the Web. However, Flash has been the dominant player for years, while Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been running hard to play catch up since Silverlight’s introduction in April 2007.
Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) estimates that Flash player is installed on 98 percent of all network connected PCs in the world.
Meanwhile, in April 2007, Microsoft announced its own deal with MLB Advanced Media to use Silverlight for streaming games and other content. It was a big win for Microsoft’s then-brand new media player to be able to use America’s sport as the springboard for Silverlight’s debut.
The competition may be a crucial one for both companies. There is much at stake, particularly as all U.S. television broadcasts are scheduled to go digital in February.
The switch up comes just a month after Microsoft began shipping Silverlight 2.0 which, among other features, adds the ability for .NET programmers to write applications on the platform using Visual Studio languages.
Microsoft corporate vice president of the .NET developers group, Scott Guthrie, claimed in a blog post on Sunday that users have already downloaded more than 100 million copies of the final Silverlight 2 code. However, the post does not mention Major League Baseball, or the loss of the contract.
“I think it’s a really good example of the competition that’s getting teed up for customers,” Peter O’Kelly, principal analyst at O’Kelly Consulting, told InternetNews.com. “But I don’t think this is any indication that Silverlight is going to stall.”