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The Emergence of HTML 5 Video

HTML5 has entered the online video market, which is both exciting and challenging for developers in the industry. With both the HTML5 specification and the various browser implementations in constant flow, we should have enough time understanding the limitations of the technology, testing playback across various browsers and devices, and optimizing our own products for HTML5 playback.

First YouTube, then Vimeo, could HTML5 could finally kill Flash Video? Vimeo's new HTML5 system is just like YouTube's, in both execution and technical details, in that it'll only work with a few browsers—Safari and Chrome, for now—and that it's compatible with most, but not all, of the company's video libraries. It's something that most people won't bother to try at this point, and if they do, they're probably be underwhelmed, since HTML5 video playback is almost indistinguishable from Flash video playback.

The Current State of HTML5 video It is often difficult to get a solid take of this, due to the major discrepancies between the leading data sources, StatCounter and NetMarketShare specifically. Current market shares also vary greatly between different geographic locations. Not surprisingly there is still a need for Flash eventhough 2/3 of the market is already supporting HTML5. On the desktop, Internet Explorer 6/7/8 make up a large pecent of the market share (28%), and are here to stay for a few more years. Since they do not support HTML5, alternatives like Flash remain critical for video playback. As for the other browsers, their entire install base is already supporting HTML5 video. Mobile phones and tablets have emerged as a new category over the last few years. Currently, only the iOS and Android market shares are relevant. Both support HTML5 video. Android still supports Flash, but as announced recently, future phones will not have the plugin anymore Half of the browsers support MP4, the other half support WebM. One of the biggest challenges with HTML5 is the fragmented support for audio/video formats. MP4 support may drop dramatically when Chrome officially drops MP4. Although this was announced back in January 2011, it still not happened, which makes it hard to predict.Every browser supports the tag for loading multiple sources. Both iOS and Android only support MP4 video. This will remain the case for any mobile device, until WebM decoders are built into hardware and integrated in to phones. See the WebM blog for progress on that effort.

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Most of videos tag attributes are supported. The HTML5 video tag supports several attributes, and most are already supported to date across the various browsers and devices. Some mixed fullscreen options are available. Fullscreen video enhances the visual experience and increases viewer engagement. HTML5 support fullscreen playback is still in its infancy. While iOS remains as the only platform with adaptive streaming. Adaptive streaming is a core component of online video. It enables buffer control, mid-stream quality adjustments, live/dvr streaming and security through encryption and/or DRM. Adaptive streaming is not part of the HTML5 specification, but browsers can support it by loading manifests from an HTML5 <source> tag. When it comes to accessibility none of the browsers support fully-featured accessibility in HTML5. Since HTML5 is native to browsers, it can achieve a greater level of accessibility than plugins like Flash. In order to make a video accessible it must be controllable using the keyboard, and must render closed captions and audio descriptions. The latter are enabled through the HTML5 <track> element.

Benefits of HTML 5 Video Major video platforms like Youtube and Vimeo and some social media sites have had supported html5 video. But it's primed to be something that everyone ends up using, and that would be a great thing. Flash video performs terribly on Mac OS X and Linux, and on the few mobile devices that do support it, playback is uniformly terrible. And generally speaking, it's a plug-in. We whine about having to install Silverlight to use Bing Maps or watch some kinds of video, but it's a plugin the same way that Flash is. HTML5 allows certain types of video to be rendered in the browser natively, like JPEGs or GIFs are now. It's an objectively simpler, more efficient solution, and disregarding the massive infrastructure built up around Flash video, it would be the obvious choice. Luckily, YouTube accounts for a hefty chunk of said architecture, their catalog is rendered in HTML5-friendly h.264 format already—that's how you watch in on the iPhone and Android, by the way—and with help from smaller sites like Vimeo and other social media sites that accepts video, they could actually get the ball rolling on, murdering Flash video. In a world where everybody's browser fully supports h.264 HTML5 video — a world that's a few years away, at least — we wouldn't have to wait years for Flash support in our new phones, wouldn't have to settle of chugging video playback on near-new machines, and we wouldn't have to put up overladen, poorly-designed proprietary Flash players getting in the way of our content.

Why Your Business Needs to Start Using HTML5 Devon Copley, managing director for media and entertainment for Kaltura, the first open source video platform, is qouted here describing the audience that only HTML5 video can reach:

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“The HTML5 video universe is really characterized by mobile devices — by tablets and smartphones. In short, there’s a new breed of online video consumers: it’s not the desktop video user of yore; instead, it’s somebody sitting on the sofa with an iPad or on a train or a bus with an Android phone. It’s a different setting, it’s a different set of people, it’s a different consumption experience, and it requires a different approach,” said Copley. “This new breed of online video consumers, there are a number of ways to access this audience but they all have their drawbacks. Obviously, mobile apps are a particularly immersive and highquality way to reach out to this audience, but there’s an enormous barrier to actually get people to download an app and install it,” Copley advised. Copley also cited high app development costs, including the need to create apps for multiple devices and platforms, as a reason to turn to HTML5 video delivery instead. “Even if you’re selling premium, long-form content, your customers aren’t going to pay $4.99 to see it unless they can see a trailer first, and they’re not going to be able to see a trailer first unless you make that available in HTML5 video,” said Copley.

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The Emergence of HTML 5 Video