Serving the Public: Kevin Towes

Jun 19, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Kevin Towes, product manager for Adobe Systems’ Flash Media Server
The play: Mr. Towes helped develop Flash Media Server 3, which was released to the public last December. The server is the first of its type that online-video producers can use to distribute and encrypt high-definition equivalent videos to customers whose computers are equipped with the most recent update of Adobe’s Flash Player 9. That version, which was also released in December and is also the first to be able to play HD-equivalent videos, is used by almost two-thirds of the Internet-enabled computers in North America. “We were basically able to update the Internet in about three months, which is an incredible achievement,” said Mr. Towes.
The pitch: With a U.S. audience that watches about 11 billion online videos a month, according to ComScore Networks, more people are trying to duplicate the television-watching experience by watching videos in HD. “We saw a lot more interest in the delivery of a wider-screen experience,” Mr. Towes said. “This allows us to deliver a much higher-quality video to a much bigger screen.” Flash Media Server 3 helped Adobe boost its earnings for the quarter ended May 31 by 41% from a year earlier to $214.9 million while increasing sales 19% to $886.9 million, the company said this week.
The challenges: The typical U.S. customer has Internet bandwidth that lags that of countries such as Japan and Korea, limiting the speed large files such as HD videos can be downloaded or streamed. Mr. Towes said Adobe software helps surmount this problem by compressing the files without compromising the video quality.
Backstory: Mr. Towes had been consulting Adobe Media Server customers for about six years before joining the company last February, and even wrote a book on the product. He’d previously been with consultant New Toronto Group and prior to that had his own company, Tangaea. Raised outside of Toronto, Mr. Towes studied film and photography at Ryerson University in Toronto while delving into the nascent computer-graphics industry of the early 1990s. “I have a pretty intrinsic knowledge how film and computer graphics work. A lot of my research and studies were about how film and photography could find a new way to tell a story,” Mr. Towes said. “The job I’m doing today is really the execution on where I started back in 1992.”


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