A lot of noise and fuss has come out of the HTML5 video debate. There are in fact (at least) two debates going on. The first is Flash vs. HTML5. Here, it’s an old-world vs. new-world debate. The PC-era was good to Flash, but as mobile devices take on more clout, things like battery life, security, and touch-interfaces are used as arguments to kill flash and move to something new. The second debate is from within the HTML5 camp itself, where the choice of video codec has become a prickly subject. That subject should be left for another post.
The big news last week was that Microsoft announced how their forthcoming Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) will NOT support plug-ins, including Flash. Actually, this isn’t entirely true. The “Metro-style” version of IE10 will not support these plug-ins. There will also be a desktop version, but it’s not where Microsoft is headed. Desktop applications are seen as legacy support. This blog describes the differences quite well. This was obviously a bold decision, but anchored in the same reasoning as what I mentioned above. IE10 will be part of Windows 8 which is promoting touch interfaces, and better integration with Windows Phone 7.
We saw the first inklings of trouble for Flash when Steve Jobs announced that iOS devices would offer no support for Flash or Flash video. They took a lot of heat for it, and we eventually saw some Android phones touting Flash support as an important differentiating feature! It’s obvious today that Apple will not change course, and with Microsoft following suit, a trend is forming.
Slowly but surely we’ve seen people taking sides in this debate. Content owners and video portals were coming down on either side of the fence. Hulu for example has gone on record saying that HTML5 does not “meet all of our customers’ needs” (See “An Aside on HTML5″). YouTube launched an HTML5 “experiment” but warns of many shortcomings, such as limitations with full screen viewing and poor support for ads. I’m sure YouTube’s viewers are ok with ad-free videos, but Google’s management won’t get behind HTML5 if it kills off their revenue streams!
James has more than 12 years of experience in telecommunications and is currently Director of Marketing for Octasic. He received is B. Eng from Concordia University in Montreal and has a strong background in ASIC design and system architecture for media processing over packet networks.
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