With the recent release of the iPad, there has been a lot of conversation about HTML5 and what it means for the future of video. This post will serve as a brief introduction to HTML, and discuss how it is changing video delivery.
What is HTML5?
HTML5 is the next major revision of the HTML markup language that aims to reduce our reliance on third-party plug-ins (Flash, Silverlight, etc…) by enhancing the core features with rich-internet application capabilities such as: vector graphics and embedded video. For now, let’s focus on the video.
Traditionally, websites have delivered video through a third-party technology such as Quicktime, Windows Media Player, or Adobe Flash. The widespread availability and adoption of these tools made this a viable solution for many years, but there is now a better option. HTML5 includes built-in support for video through the use of a <video> tag. This will allow users to add video to their site just as easily as they add text or links.
So…what’s the catch?
The Codec Problem
HTML5 is designed to be the new standard in online video, but there is a heated debate between the major browsers over which format(s) should be supported. Take a look at the following chart (which is an abbreviated version of this chart:
As you can see, Chrome is the only one that supports both formats, with Firefox and Safari on opposing sides of the coin, and Internet Explorer providing little support for either. I won’t get into the driving factors behind the debate (mainly patent issues), but you can see that this is no way for a “standard” to move forward.
iPad Launches Using H.264, Internet Follows Suit
With the release of the iPad this month, several high-profile websites created HTML5-ready version of their content to ensure their video could be delivered to the estimated 1 million units already in use. Since iPad uses Safari, these sites are all encoding their video in H.264 format.
HTML5 is still in development, and the debate on video codecs will need to be resolved for it to become an “official” standard. The success of H.264 on the iPad may help that conversation along, since so many sites are already serving video in this format.
Regardless of what codes is chosen, the advent of HTML5 will likely bring about a major decline in use of Flash / Silverlight for both embedded video players and rich-internet applications, along with an increase in standards-based sites that use the new built-in features of HTML5.
Stay tuned for the next few posts, as I will be expanding on the topic of video delivery on the web.
Photo credit: bioxid