Adobe Systems has developed its first desktop media player and plans to give the industry an early peek at it at the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show in Las Vegas this week.

The company is already a major player in the exploding market for online video with its ubiquitous Flash player and accompanying authoring and streaming products. Adobe hopes to extend its presence with Adobe Media Player: a desktop application that will let content owners embed ads in clips that users can play back offline.

The ability to let consumers "download and carry" ad-supported videos and play them back offline makes the product an important one for media companies, which already use Flash to distribute 80% to 90% of their content, an analyst said. "It provides a way to share media and make money, which until now has been a scary proposition for most media companies," said James McQuivey, a principal analyst of television and media technology at Forrester Research.

However, as a player that only supports Flash video, the product isn't as revolutionary for end users, who still need to have multiple applications for various media, such as songs, videos, and photos, he said. "That means we're not done yet. This is a great step forward. But it's not the end of the world," McQuivey said.

If Adobe managed to turn the media player into a product that allows users to unify their media needs, then the product would truly change the game for end users, he said.

Adobe Media Player will be available at an unspecified time this year as a free download in its beta version, while general availability is expected before the end of the year. It was built using Adobe's new Apollo application runtime.

Among its features are a high-quality Flash playback, full screen playback, viewer ratings and a "favourites" feature that automatically downloads content of users' liking.

Video delivery options for content owners include on-demand streaming, live streaming, progressive download and protected download-and-play. The player also supports various ad formats and content protection options.