HTML5 is the latest revision of the Internet language that I am pretty sure most of you all are familiar with in some way or another. One of the main talking points of HTML5 here at Flumotion is the introduction of the ‘video’ tag, which enables the embedding of video natively into web pages without the need to install any third party plug-ins. All that is needed is a compatible browser, although selecting a compatible browser can restrict which format you watch HTML5.
Firefox and Opera are currently supporting open formats OGG Theora while Safari and Microsoft’s upcoming IE9 support the H.264 codec and Chrome supports both OGG Theora and H.264. Only time will tell which format becomes the standard, or if we see a multi-format future – something that poses no problem for us at Flumotion as our Streaming Platform has always been multi-format. We believe in offering our clients and their end users with a choice that has no restrictions to formats, ensuring the maximum audience is reached. You can currently view our Demo Site to check our HTML5 in action, along with all the other popular formats.
There are a number of reasons why HTML5 is instantly providing an advantage over the plug-in based players Silverlight and Flash. Firstly, HTML5 is native to the browser, there is no plug-in requirement and it becomes completely user-friendly because of this. There are also faster loading times and smoother playback as a result – instantly proving to be a more appealing option over plug-in based players.
What gives HTML5 the biggest advantage is its compatibility with the iPhone. It is common knowledge that the iPhone, as well as numerous other Apple products currently do not support Flash. The reasons for this contribute to another argument altogether, but this could be a key to the success of HTML5. Video on the iPhone, as well as on mobile devices in general is ever increasing in popularity and importance and with HTML5 being compatible on the iPhone (and soon to be other mobile devices also,) it could be an important factor influencing the future of HTML5 and online video as a whole.
Even though HTML5 is currently having problems with browser compatibility, it looks like it’s making steps forward. With Microsoft’s recent announcement of HTML5 support for the upcoming Internet Explorer 9, it means Safari and Internet Explorer will now all support H.264 encoded HTML5 playback, with Firefox and Opera both supporting open Ogg Theora encoded playback and Chrome supporting both. Okay, there’s still the issue of there not being just one universal solution for all browsers, but at least this is progress and of course the Flumotion Platform is prepared as it supports multiple formats.
This leads to the most exciting thing about HTML5, which is that despite the advantages, it is far from the finished article. Yes, this can be perceived as a bad thing, but what it does mean is that there is a lot more to come from HTML5 and working with it in its early stages means we are prepared for whatever else it may offer down the line. Recently we streamed Lawrence Lessig’s WireSide chat live from Harvard Law School with the Open Video Alliance using HTML5 and OGG Theora to great success. Many online video sites are adopting this very approach, with YouTube being the biggest amongst these.