Brightcove is introducing a new product this morning called Brightcove App Cloud, a platform which allows content publishers to build and manage apps and "touch" web sites for iOS and Android devices. The move is the first product expansion beyond video since Brightcove's inception. Brightcove is also announcing that it has changed the name of its video platform to Brightcove Video Cloud and that it is positioning the company as a "cloud content services company." Brightcove's SVP of Marketing Jeff Whatcott brought me up to speed on all the moves late yesterday.
The App Cloud initiative is based on feedback from content customers that it is becoming increasingly necessary for them to develop content experiences for smartphones, tablets, connected devices and social media sites like Facebook, all of which go beyond traditional web sites. However, these requirements have introduced massive complexity and cost to content publishers, forcing companies to choose between creating low-end apps using "app factory" tools (as Jeff described), or more custom experiences leveraging native SDKs. This tradeoff between the former's strong affordability and reach vs. the latter's flexibility and power has created what Brightcove sees as a gap in the market for a robust "app platform."
App Cloud seeks to address this need by bridging the creation and management of apps and web experiences, enabling content publishers to affordably deploy experiences across all these new environments. And Jeff said Brightcove sees the problem persisting and even intensifying as the smartphone/tablet market remains fragmented between iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry, all of which have their own development environments. Jeff also described App Cloud as consistent with founder Jeremy Allaire's original vision of helping publish various types of premium content, not just video.
With App Cloud, content publishers use standard web development tools plus the new App Cloud SDK to create their own templates, populate them with content feeds and add specific functionality (e.g. ads, mapping, camera, location, etc.). App Cloud then compiles everything for iOS and Android devices. App Cloud can submit the apps for approval, or the content publisher can do itself. Once submitted and live, App Cloud offers ongoing analytics, management and optimization services (e.g. transcoding, caching, synchronizing). Brightcove is showing initial apps from A&E and the State Department as examples of what's possible with App Cloud.
While Brightcove's Video Cloud is integrated, Jeff noted that App Cloud is an independent product, and that if customers wanted to pull in video from non-Brightcove platforms, they could do so as well. With App Cloud, Brightcove is diversifying its bets beyond video, seeking to leverage some of the same company "DNA" to solve the growing app/device challenge.
Jeff stressed that the video market is still growing strongly and the move into apps is another growth opportunity for the company. To the extent that the app market does remain fragmented, content publishers feel a strong need to build apps and Brightcove's tools can offer incremental advantages over existing alternatives, it seems like a pretty smart move.
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