Flash Video Obsolete With HTML 5? Open Video Standards

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HTML 5 <video> tag – It’s the end of the world as we know it and Flash feels fine? No, probably not. with the prophesied coming of HTML 5 and the video tag, Flash could be on the very short end of a very long stick and the new messiah for online video could take the world by storm. In fact, without some severely significant reasons to continue using it I daresay that it could go the way of the Dodo in regards to online video. I mean seriously. Within a year or so we simply won’t need it (though Microsoft will probably either drag their feet or screw up the IE adoption of HTML 5 so maybe that’s 2-3 years).
Now, let’s not just automatically write off the old bird shall we? I mean it’s got a lot of things going for it, it’s the old flame we want to keep ignited, not just a Flash in the pan. We’ve been through a lot with her and well, some of us love her. Simply put, she’s everywhere. Everyone is using it, almost everyone has the plugin installed, and nearly every internet user has some idea of what it is so even if they don’t have it installed they’re more than happy to install it.

If the top ten video sharing platforms happened to instantly switch to HTML 5 when it’s ready and browsers are supporting it, will the average internet user even know? No, I highly doubt it.

Plus there is some stuff that Flash can do that the HTML 5 Video Tag cannot. Mainly – interactivity. Overlays, hot spots, etc. These are things that are built into Flash which will not be ready for HML 5’s launch. Sure, you’ll be able to click the video and go somewhere, but you won’t be able to click say a video overlay menu, a hot spot for a specific product (which is placed there purposely and paying you for it to be there and be clicked) and the like. In fact, the HTML 5 Video Tag could very well be a step backward for online video.

No, that’s an overstatement. There are multiple other benefits that are more intangible than that clickable video overlay but still as important. These are things like the iPhone. The iPhone has no flash at present for its safari. As soon as Safari supports HTML 5, it supports video in a page. Millions of potential viewers!

Another major intangible is the ease with which the video will be able to be indexed. Sure, you’ll still need good descriptions and keywords and the like so it won’t be any less work for those of us who create the content. But it will be immensely easier for those who view the content to in fact find it. That’s a bonus in itself isn’t it?

So what it’s going to come down to is this, the way I see it:

Do you want fancy interactions on your video or do you want ease of accessibility for the masses?

Theoretically, if I were the guy leading Adobe’s Flash Inititative, I would be talking to the guy that runs Google’s search services and say something along the lines of

“Hey man, we like our place in the market, we don’t want to lose any marketshare to this ‘upstart’ HTML 5 Video tag crap. Can’t we just play nice and build some way for you to index video served up through our player in a really awesome way so that no one cares that HTML 5 allows them to embed a video without Flash?”

Then to MSN for their new Bing program, and Yahoo and wash, rinse, repeat for every search engine on the planet. Whew, sounds like a lot of work. Maybe it would just be easier if we wait for HTML 5 to mature and build out the interactivity side of things huh?

Really it will boil down to what can be done with each platform. That will probably determine the final outcome of the fight. Firefox is relatively quick on the uptake of new stuff, Flash and HTML not so much. The major difference, the way I see it, is in the interactivity of the video. Other sites have said that everything in Flash can be done in HTML 5 and more. I don’t know that EVERYTHING that can be done in Flash, will instantly be available in HTML 5 in regards to video, but I’m willing to take a look at each.

Right now I’m installing the Firefox 3.5 beta so I can begin a deeper look into things. Hopefully I’ll have a better vision of the future when I’m done and can give you more accurate prognostications for the future. As for right now? I’m going to simply enjoy the Croatian seaside, and take Friday off.


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